Special Provisions (associate status, release from contract, termination of appt)
SPECIAL PROVISIONS OF APPOINTMENT
a. Associate Appointment
Appointment with associate status is designed to allow particular individuals to reduce their teaching responsibilities at the College for limited periods without interrupting their normal employment. The reasons for requesting associate status may include, for example, the need to fulfill familial obligations, the wish to engage more fully in scholarly or artistic projects (or other forms of professional development), or the wish to reduce one's teaching obligations for a few years before retirement.
With the exception of colleagues nearing retirement (that is, those colleagues who have passed their 60th birthday), faculty on associate status are normally expected to be in residence at the College for the entire academic year and to fulfill normal advising and service responsibilities. Colleagues on associate status who have passed their 60th birthday by September 1 of the academic year in question are required to be in residence during either the fall or spring term. Other faculty members who wish to be excused from normal advising and service responsibilities must apply for a regular leave of absence through the Educational Affairs Committee.
(a) Requests for associate status for purposes of professional development will, if granted, be treated as leaves of absence. Handbook guidelines will govern the eligibility of colleagues granted associate status for future leaves of absence. Tenure-track faculty normally will not be eligible to request associate status for the purpose of professional development until they have undergone a review for tenure. They may request associate status before the tenure review for personal reasons (e.g., familial obligations), however. In the event that a tenure-track faculty's request is approved, the tenure review schedule may be extended one semester for each year on associate status.
(b) Associate status may be requested for a maximum of three consecutive years and, normally, for no more than a total of six years during the period prior to the faculty member's 60th birthday. After the 60th birthday, faculty may remain on associate status for up to five years preceding retirement.
(c) Colleagues on associate status are expected to teach three courses per academic year, maintaining contact hours and enrollment numbers consonant with a 0.6 FTE appointment. Those courses normally will be spread out over the entire academic year, but the administration also will consider requests for associate status that call for teaching two courses in either the fall or spring term and one course taught in Winter Term. If it is beneficial to the department or program curriculum, colleagues may be permitted to teach three courses solely in either the fall or spring term. Normally, a colleague who is on associate status will receive 60% of his or her full-time salary.
(d) Colleagues on associate status will be eligible for travel and research support from the FPDF.
(e) Requests for associate status of whatever sort will be governed by a goal of maintaining from year to year, and over the years, a student/faculty ratio of 9:1. It should be understood that commitment to a multi-year associate status arrangement may affect the leave patterns of other full-time faculty, both within and beyond the department directly affected by the request.
iii. Appointment Procedures
A faculty member on regular appointment at any rank may request associate appointment for limited periods of time ranging from a year to a maximum of three years before resuming regular teaching responsibilities. Such requests will be made to the vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty (VPAA/DOF). The deadline for requesting associate appointment in any given academic year is September 1 of the year prior.
(a) Those requests that seek time off for purposes of professional development will be considered by the Educational Affairs Committee as requests for leave without pay. A letter from the department chair and the chairs of any affected programs must accompany each request. This letter should comment upon the proposal and present a strategy for replacing the colleague making the request. Time off or reduced teaching in order to complete a terminal degree will not be considered professional development.
(b) Those requests that seek time off for purposes other than professional development will be considered by the VPAA/DOF or designee, in consultation with the Promotions Committee, and a recommendation will be advanced by them to the president. The Educational Affairs Committee will be consulted where staffing implications are involved. A letter from the department chair and the chair of any affected program must accompany each request. This letter should comment upon the proposal and present a strategy for replacing the colleague making the request.
(c) The president, after appropriate consultation with the faculty member's department, the Promotions Committee, and the Educational Affairs Committee, will decide on the request. If associate appointment is agreed to, a formal letter of understanding setting forth the conditions of the appointment will be sent by the president (or designate) to the individual faculty member and the department chair. Instructors and assistant professors who move to associate appointment retain the term of appointment current at the time that change is granted. A faculty member who moves to associate appointment after the fourth year of appointment but prior to the review for tenure, and who subsequently fails to be given a tenured appointment, is normally not eligible for continuation as an assistant professor beyond the one-year terminal appointment stated in General Provisions 1.e.iv. Tenured faculty who move to associate appointment retain tenure and are reviewed on the normal schedule.
b. Release from Contractual Obligations
i. The contract of appointment of a member of the faculty of Middlebury College may not be terminated by the College prior to the expiration of the period of appointment except for adequate cause as specified in section c. below or under extraordinary circumstances because of serious financial emergency.
ii. The contract of appointment of a member of the faculty may be terminated if the faculty member himself or herself requests release. In order to receive consideration, the request must be presented in writing to the president, and it should call for an effective date coinciding with the concluding date of the academic year so as to avoid disruption of the work of the College. The request should be dispatched early enough to be in the president's hand no later than the July 1 preceding the effective date if the faculty member concerned is a professor or associate professor; no later than August 1 if he or she is an assistant professor or instructor or lecturer. Waiver of these dates may be granted by the president upon specific request in writing if, in his or her judgment, compliance with them would impose hardship upon the faculty member.
c. Termination of Appointment
i. Termination for Cause
Faculty on appointment for any term, including tenure, may have their appointment terminated prior to the terms of the appointment by special action of designated and appropriate College authorities for sufficient reason and according to the procedures outlined below.
Termination of a tenured appointment for any reason may be undertaken only in the most exceptional circumstances and only for the most compelling reasons. Tenure is a primary protection for academic freedom and contributes to the stability necessary for the development of the College. At the same time, however, tenure is not simply a guarantee of life-time appointment to retirement. Specific serious offenses may result in termination for cause. A continued pattern of teaching performance which is judged to be below minimally acceptable standards may also result in termination. In all instances of a consideration of dismissal for cause, the faculty member will be secure in his or her right to a fair and impartial hearing.
The Promotions Committee may review the appointment of any faculty member for cause at any time. Review for cause is initiated by recommendation of the vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the faculty (VPAA/DOF) to the president. Review for cause is undertaken only when termination of employment is contemplated.
The president, if he or she deems it advisable, may designate an individual other than the VPAA/DOF to carry out the functions of that office, as set forth below.
ii. Grounds for Termination for Cause
(a) Flagrant and deliberate violations of the rules and procedures of the Middlebury College faculty; persistent failure to carry out specified teaching assignments as these are determined by a department or by the Curriculum Committee of the College. Action cannot be taken under the latter clause against a faculty member whose academic directions have not changed but who is a member of a department which has undertaken new directions and therefore has developed new needs.
(b) Abuse of authority as a teacher; actions that intimidate others or constitute a "chilling effect" on the freedom of thought necessary in an academic community; behavior which fundamentally corrupts scholarship or teaching.
(c) Actions that are willfully destructive of College facilities; serious criminal behavior.
(d) Teaching ineffectiveness. (Procedures defined below in subsection iii.)
iii. Grounds for Termination for Teaching Ineffectiveness
Tenure cannot be an impregnable barrier against sanctions for general teaching performance that is judged by competent authorities to be below a minimally acceptable level for the College. The chairs of departments, and the VPAA/DOF all bear direct responsibility to take steps to correct seriously defective teaching. If a chair has reason to believe that a faculty member's teaching performance is seriously defective, the faculty member must be directly approached on this matter and be given a written statement outlining the problems. This statement will be prepared by the chair after appropriate consultation with other members of the faculty, professionals outside the College, current students, and alumni. The chair also will consult with the VPAA/DOF in all such matters and a copy of all correspondence with the faculty member will be filed in the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty.
When there is reason to believe that a faculty member's teaching is seriously defective, the chair will not only advise the faculty member of this judgment, but will meet with him or her to see if a program can be developed which will correct the problems as perceived. The College will attempt to assist in this program.
If serious problems persist over a period of years and it is the judgment of the chair in consultation with appropriate colleagues that the faculty member has made no successful effort to correct the situation, he or she may recommend to the VPAA/DOF that action be initiated for termination for cause as set forth below in iv. (b)-(f). (In this instance, the VPAA/DOF cannot act without departmental recommendation.)
iv. Procedures in Termination for Cause
(a) When an allegation of severe professional misconduct has been made, the VPAA/DOF shall make a preliminary inquiry and shall discuss the matter with those administrative officers he or she deems appropriate. If the VPAA/DOF concludes that further inquiry is warranted, then he or she will meet in confidence with the faculty member to discuss the alleged violation. The faculty member and the VPAA/DOF may each invite a faculty adviser to attend these meetings.
If, after such discussions and meeting with the faculty member, the VPAA/DOF determines that there is no basis for a formal review of contract, the matter will be dropped with no penalty to the faculty member. If, however, the VPAA/DOF determines that a formal review of contract should be conducted, he or she will recommend to the president a review for termination for cause. If the president chooses not to accept the recommendation, the matter will be dropped with no penalty to the faculty member, contingent on final approval of the Board of Trustees. In any case in which the VPAA/DOF makes a determination that a formal review of contract should be conducted and the president thereafter recommends that the case be dismissed, the president will inform the Board of Trustees of such recommendation. If the president accepts the recommendation, the matter will be turned over to the Promotions Committee for a full review. The VPAA/DOF will inform the complainant(s) in writing whether or not a review of contract will be pursued.
(b) If the case is turned over to the Promotions Committee, the VPAA/DOF will promptly inform the faculty member, in writing, of the identity of the person or persons initiating the charge, the grounds upon which termination for cause is being considered, and the sources of any information about the case. The statement given to the faculty member will be framed with due concern for the rights of the parties involved. The VPAA/DOF will not participate in the Promotions Committee's proceedings or deliberations.
Once the Promotions Committee has begun the review, the VPAA/DOF will make available to the committee all information pertaining to the matter that he or she possesses. The president and the VPAA/DOF will cooperate with the committee in any inquiries it deems necessary. The faculty member will be given fair opportunity to prepare and present his or her defense and will be permitted to call upon a faculty adviser of his or her choice to assist him or her, or to act as counsel. In the course of the review, the faculty member will have an opportunity to confront witnesses against him or her.
The faculty ombudsperson will attend all proceedings of the Promotions Committee that incorporate interviews or testimony in the case. The Promotions Committee will also keep the ombudsperson informed of the committee's work. The ombudsperson will keep the president informed of the committee's work. A professional reporter will transcribe any interviews and testimony heard by the committee. All parties must agree to the content of the transcript before it becomes the official record of the proceedings. The faculty member and the president will each have full access to all records of interviews and testimony at the committee's proceedings as these records become available.
(c) After a full review of the case, the Promotions Committee will inform the faculty member in writing of its findings and recommendations, specifically including whether it has found cause for termination. The Promotions Committee will also present in writing its findings and recommendation to the president. If the Promotions Committee finds that there is no cause for dismissal, it will recommend either that the case be dropped, or that the faculty member be given a penalty less severe than dismissal. If the Promotions Committee recommends a penalty less severe than dismissal, it will specify the penalty that it recommends.
The president will consider the recommendation of the Promotions Committee. Within 14 days of receiving this recommendation, except where exigent circumstances require otherwise, the president will present his or her own recommendation, orally and in writing, to the faculty member and to the Promotions Committee. The written findings of the Promotions Committee and the president will be provided to the Board of Trustees. These reports will not divulge the names of the faculty member or of any individuals who participated in the review.
If the Promotions Committee recommends that the case be dropped and the president and Board of Trustees accept this recommendation, then the case will be dropped. If the Promotions Committee recommends dismissal or a penalty short of dismissal, and the president accepts the recommendation, the faculty member may appeal the decision to the Board of Trustees. If the president does not accept the Promotions Committee's recommendation, the case will go to the Board of Trustees for review. In the event of any appeal by the faculty member or any disagreement by the president with the Promotions Committee's findings and recommendation, the Board of Trustees will conduct a hearing of the case. When a case is referred to the Board of Trustees, the Board will have full access to all records of the prior proceedings in the case. The Board of Trustees will also conduct a hearing if it rejects any recommendation to which both the Promotions Committee and the president agree.
In circumstances that require the Board of Trustees to conduct a hearing, the Board will establish a Hearing Panel of at least three of its members to conduct a full review of the case. The work of the Hearing Panel will include: a review of all of the documentation of the case; a meeting with the faculty member who was charged; an interview with the Promotions Committee; an interview with the president; and all further investigations and interviews that the Hearing Panel deems necessary. The faculty member will be given fair opportunity to prepare and present his or her defense, and will be permitted to call upon a member of the College community as an adviser. A professional reporter will produce a verbatim transcript of the proceedings of the Hearing Panel. The faculty member will have full access to all records of the proceedings of the Hearing Panel. The work of the Hearing Panel must be completed within 60 days except where exigent circumstances require otherwise.
If, after a full review, the Board of Trustees disagrees with the findings or recommendation of the Promotions Committee, the Promotions Committee will have the option to respond within seven days to the Board's objections. Similarly, if after a full review, the Board of Trustees disagrees with the recommendation of the president, the president will have the option to respond to the Board's objections within seven days.
In all instances, the Board of Trustees will make the final decision whether to drop the case, impose a penalty less than dismissal, or dismiss the faculty member. The president will carry out the final decision of the Board of Trustees. If the Board of Trustees determines that the faculty member should be dismissed, the faculty member will not be offered any subsequent employment at the College.
(d) From the moment the VPAA/DOF determines that a review for termination for cause should be undertaken until the time when the Board of Trustees reaches its final decision, the faculty member may end the proceedings by resigning. When the charge against the faculty member is based in whole or in part on abuse of authority involving intentional or deliberate harm to others (e.g., harassment), however, the faculty member will not be permitted to take early retirement or resign effective at a later date in exchange for the charges being dropped. If the faculty member chooses to resign, the resignation must take effect immediately.
(e) Whenever the Promotions Committee has conducted a review for termination for cause, it will, at the last faculty meeting of the semester in which the review has taken place, report to the voting members of the faculty: (1) the general category (according to Termination of Appointment ii. (a)-(d) above) of the allegations brought, and (2) whether the committee advised the Board of Trustees that there appeared to be adequate cause for dismissal. This report will not divulge the names of the faculty member or of any individuals having participated in the review and will be entered into the records of the faculty. If a faculty member ends a review for termination for cause by resigning, the termination of the review and the reason for the termination will be reported to all individuals having participated in the review, and to the faculty, in the manner described above.
v. Institutional Restrictions on Termination
Changes in status or termination may be undertaken only on the most serious grounds. These grounds must be specific and concrete. Considerations of political opinions, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or legally recognized forms of disability are absolutely prohibited, except to the extent that they affect teaching ability. Economic considerations relating to the individual's salary level, length of contract, etc., are positively excluded.