REG 05.25.05 - Faculty Discharge Hearing Procedures

Authority:  Chancellor

History:  First Issued: September 6, 2011.

Related Policies:
UNC Code Section 603 - Due Process Before Discharge or the Imposition of Serious Sanctions
NCSU POL05.20.01 - Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion and Permanent Tenure

NCSU POL05.25.01 – Faculty Grievance and Non-Reappointment Review Policy

Contact Info:  Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (919-513-7741)


1.  INTRODUCTION

Section 603 of the Code of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors (The Code) establishes procedures covering the discharge or imposition of serious sanctions of tenured faculty and faculty serving under term appointments prior to the expiration of their term appointment.  This regulation establishes the procedures to be followed after a faculty member has requested a hearing pursuant to Section 603 of the Code.

2.  THE 603 COMMITTEE

The 603 Committee is a standing university committee that is authorized to hear cases involving the discharge for cause or imposition of serious sanctions of tenured faculty and faculty serving under term appointments prior to the expiration of their term appointment.

2.1  Membership

Each college shall elect a number of faculty members to serve on the 603 Committee; the number from each college is equal to one-half of the number of Faculty Senators from that college, rounded down when necessary, plus one.

2.2  Eligibility

Individuals eligible to vote in Faculty Senate elections are eligible to vote for members of the 603 Committee.  Eligibility for membership on the 603 Committee is the same as for serving on the Faculty Senate with the exclusion of:  retired faculty (or faculty who would be retiring prior to the conclusion of a 603 hearing), faculty who are on phased retirement, faculty without permanent tenure, and faculty who are currently on a work plan for failure to meet expectations in a post-tenure or annual review.

2.3 Term

Faculty members will be elected to serve a four-year term on the 603 Committee.  Members of the 603 Committee are ineligible for immediate re-election, but may become re-eligible for election after the passage of two (2) years.

2.4  Elections

Elections will be held annually and the terms of the members shall be staggered.  The timing of and procedures for elections shall coincide with the elections of the Faculty Senate.

2.5  Training

All members of the 603 Committee shall be trained annually to serve as both members and chairs of Hearing Panels.  A member of the 603 Committee must have attended training as a pre-requisite to serve on a Hearing Panel.

3.  FACULTY HEARING PANEL SELECTION

If a faculty member requests a hearing pursuant to Section 603 of the Code, the Provost shall forward a copy of the specifications for discharge or other serious sanctions (i.e. suspension or demotion in rank) to the Chair of the Faculty with a request that a 603 Faculty Hearing Panel (“Hearing Panel”) be selected to hear the case.

3.1  Selection of Hearing Panel Members

Upon receipt from the Provost of the specifications for discharge or other serious sanction of a tenured faculty member or a faculty member serving under term appointments prior to the expiration of their term appointment, the Chair of the Faculty shall begin the process of selecting the Hearing Panel.  The Chair of the Faculty, in the presence of three of the following individuals--Secretary of the Faculty Senate, past Chair of the Faculty or Chair Elect of the Faculty and Faculty Senate Executive Assistant--will randomly select five (5) members of the 603 Committee after excluding (a) those elected from the college of the faculty member (in cases where a faculty member has an appointment in more than one college, the exclusion will be for the college of the faculty member’s primary or “home” department); (b) those currently serving on a Hearing Panel; and (c) those who have served on a Hearing Panel within that academic year.  The Chair of the Faculty will then contact the proposed Hearing Panel members to determine whether any should be excluded for good cause, including but not limited to, conflict of interest such that the proposed Panel member would be unable to decide the case in an objective manner, solely on the basis of the evidence presented and arguments made at the hearing.  If a proposed member is disqualified, the Chair of the Faculty shall employ the procedure outlined above to select a new proposed member.  The Hearing Panel selection process should typically take no more than two weeks from the date the Chair of the Faculty receives the written request from the Provost to form a Hearing Panel.

3.2  Notification to Parties of Proposed Panel Members

The Chair of the Faculty shall notify the Provost and the faculty member in writing of the proposed members of the Hearing Panel.

3.3  Response to Proposed Hearing Panel

Upon receipt of notification of the proposed Panel members, each party shall have five (5) business days to notify the Chair of the Faculty in writing whether the party requests the removal of any proposed member(s) from the Hearing Panel.

3.4  Challenges to Proposed Hearing Panel

Any request to remove a proposed Panel member shall be presented in writing to the Chair of the Faculty, who shall be responsible for granting peremptory challenges and for judging the validity of any challenges for cause.

3.4.1  Peremptory Challenge

Each party shall have one (1) peremptory challenge (challenge for any or no reason) to the proposed Hearing Panel.

3.4.2  Challenges for Cause

Each party shall have an unlimited number of challenges for cause.  If a party requests removal of a proposed Panel member for cause, the party must specify the reasons for removal.

3.4.3  Chair of the Faculty Decision on Challenges

Within ten (10) business days of receipt of any party’s request to remove a proposed Panel member, the Chair of the Faculty shall grant any peremptory challenges and determine whether the proposed member should be removed for cause.  The Chair’s decision regarding removal, along with the written request, will be made a part of the Official Record.  The Chair of the Faculty shall replace a proposed Hearing Panel member who has been removed for any reason by utilizing the selection process outlined in section 3.1.

3.4.4  Exhaustion of 603 Committee Pool

Should the pool of eligible prospective members from the 603 Committee become exhausted, the parties may agree to proceed with fewer than five (5) members on the Hearing Panel, or, in the alternative, the Chair of the Faculty may select, at random, a member of the Faculty Senate’s 604/607 Committee to serve on the Hearing Panel.  Any proposed member of the Hearing Panel selected from the 604/607 Committee must fulfill the requirements as delineated in sections 2.2 and 2.5.

4.  INITIAL MEETING

After the Hearing Panel has been finalized, the Chair of the Faculty shall provide the Panel members with a copy of the specifications for discharge and shall contact the Office of General Counsel to request that counsel be assigned to assist the Hearing Panel.  The Chair of the Faculty shall schedule an initial meeting of the Panel and its legal counsel.  At that point, the Chair of the Faculty’s responsibilities with respect to the 603 Hearing process will conclude.  The purpose of the initial meeting of the Panel shall be to select a Panel chairperson, set a date for the pre-hearing meeting, consult with legal counsel as needed and address any other items required to prepare for the hearing process.

4.1  Selection of Panel Chair

The Panel members shall select a Panel chairperson (Chair).  The Chair shall oversee the proceedings and, at a minimum, shall be responsible for convening and chairing all Panel meetings; handling all logistics related to the hearing process; scheduling the hearing dates and notifying the Panel members, the Panel’s legal counsel, and the parties (and their counsel) of the hearing dates and locations; drafting all correspondence on behalf of the Panel; ensuring the timely and orderly process of the hearing (with the expectation of completing the hearing no later than eight (8) weeks after the Panel’s initial meeting); making all procedural rulings; keeping a record of all meetings held and correspondence with Panel members; preparing a written report of the Panel’s findings and recommendations to the Chancellor; compiling the official record and transmitting it as specified by procedure; and convening and chairing any meetings or supplemental proceedings required by any remand to the Panel.

4.2  Hearing Schedule

The Chair of the Hearing Panel shall consult with the Hearing Panel members at the initial meeting to set a date, time, and location for the pre-hearing meeting.  At that time, the Chair may also want to identify several potential dates and times for the hearing that may be presented to the respective parties and their counsel (if applicable) at the pre-hearing meeting.

4.3  Representatives of the Parties

The Panel Chair shall contact the faculty member to ascertain whether he or she is represented by legal counsel and, if so, will obtain the contact information for the legal counsel.  The Chair shall provide such information to the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.  In the event that the faculty member is not represented by legal counsel, but obtains legal counsel at a later date, the faculty member shall report the information in a timely manner to the Chair, who shall in turn notify the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.

4.4  Notification of Pre-hearing Meeting

The Chair shall notify the parties of the date, time and location of the pre-hearing meeting and will instruct the parties as to what to bring to the pre-hearing meeting (i.e. calendar for scheduling purposes, proposed witness list for the hearing--including a brief description as to what each witness will be expected to testify to and estimated time for each witness’s testimony--proposed stipulations, etc. and any other information that will assist in facilitating preparation for the hearing).

5.  PRE-HEARING MEETING

The Chair of the Hearing Panel presides over the pre-hearing meeting, which is a meeting that includes the Panel members, the parties and their legal counsel (if applicable).  The pre-hearing meeting is intended generally to handle preliminary matters and to establish expectations for the hearing.  The Panel does not hear evidence or arguments about the merits of the matter at the pre-hearing meeting.

5.1  Schedule for Hearing

The Panel Chair, after consulting with the Panel members and the parties, should set at least three to five firm hearing dates (or more, if the matter is anticipated to go longer) sufficiently in advance of the commencement of the actual hearing in order to facilitate the ability of the parties to schedule the appearance of witnesses.  If the hearing is completed sooner than planned, the Chair may release the additional scheduled hearing dates.

5.2  Contact Information

The Chair should confirm contact information (telephone numbers, FAX numbers, e-mail addresses and mailing addresses) of the parties and respective legal counsel, if applicable.  Any information or communication sent to the Provost or the faculty member and their respective legal counsel must be sent to the other party.

5.3  General Matters

The Panel Chair may make procedural rulings with respect to the hearing such as the number of witnesses that may be called by a party, the length of opening statements/closing arguments, sequestration of witnesses, etc.

5.4  Proposed Stipulations

At the pre-hearing meeting, the Chair should inquiry as to whether the parties have any proposed stipulations relating to relevant matters of fact or admissibility of evidence.  Any final stipulations shall be reduced to writing and signed by both parties and the Chair prior to the start of the hearing and accepted into the record at the hearing.

5.5  Exchange of Proposed Exhibits and Final Witness List

The Chair of the Hearing Panel shall instruct the parties to exchange proposed exhibits and a final witness list a certain amount of time prior to the hearing (the exchange should be at least three (3) business days before the hearing).  On the specified date, one hard copy of a party’s proposed exhibits must be exchanged with the other party, with a copy provided to the Panel Chair.  The parties and the Chair may agree to another format (i.e. e-mail with pdf attachments, thumb drive, disk, etc.) for the exchange.  Proposed exhibits should be marked sequentially by each party on the front page (i.e. Provost Exh. 1, Respondent Exh. 1) and the pages of each exhibit should be numbered for easy reference.  The Chair may not share the exhibits with the other members of the Panel at this stage.

5.6  Pre-hearing Meeting Recorded

The pre-hearing meeting shall be transcribed by a court reporter and the transcript shall become part of the official record of the proceedings.  The faculty member may request a copy of the transcript of the pre-hearing meeting and a copy thereof shall be furnished to the faculty member at NC State’s expense.

6.  HEARING

6.1  Burden of Proof

The Provost, as the chief academic officer and charging party, has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the reasons for discharge have a reasonable basis in fact and are consistent with state and federal law, the Code and NC State policies/regulations/rules.

6.2  Hearing Closed to the Public

The hearing shall be closed to the public unless the faculty member and the hearing committee agree that it may be open.  If closed to the public, the proceedings shall remain confidential unless and until the matter must be disclosed as a matter of law.

6.3  Responsibilities of Panel Chair

The Chair of the Hearing Panel shall oversee the hearing and rule on any procedural issues that arise during the hearing, so long as such rulings do not conflict with Section 603 of the Code, NC State policies/regulations/rules and/or law.  All procedural issues shall be directed to the Panel Chair.

6.4  Ex Parte Communications Prohibited

There may be no communications between Panel members and other persons involved in the hearing (i.e. parties, legal counsel, witnesses, etc.) regarding the subject matter of the hearing except (1) in the hearing or in written documents copied to all parties or (2) after the Chancellor has rendered the final decision in the case.

6.5  Hearing Recorded

The hearing shall be transcribed by a court reporter and the transcript shall become part of the official record of the proceedings.  The faculty member may request a copy of the transcript of the hearing and a copy thereof shall be furnished to the faculty member at NC State’s expense.

6.6  Evidence

6.6.1  Hearsay

The rules of evidence shall not strictly apply.  Accordingly, hearsay evidence may be admitted at the Panel Chair’s discretion, if deemed to be reliable, although testimony from a witness with direct knowledge is preferred.

6.6.2  Alternatives to Live Testimony

Though live testimony is preferred, the Panel Chair may allow a witness to testify telephonically in extraordinary circumstances (i.e. out of the country on scholarly leave,  no longer a resident of North Carolina, at home on maternity leave, etc.).  The Panel Chair may also accept testimony from depositions or affidavits into the record and the Panel may accord them appropriate weight.

6.6.3  Documents

All documents introduced into evidence shall be labeled with exhibit numbers and identified as either the Provost’s exhibit or the Faculty Member’s exhibit.  Exhibit pages should also be numbered.

6.6.4  Evidence Not Considered

No statements or documents may be considered by the Hearing Panel in making a recommendation to the Chancellor unless accepted into the record as evidence.  If the Panel determines that certain evidence should be excluded, the decision to exclude and the underlying rationale should be noted in the record.  The excluded information should be kept as part of the official record but segregated from the information that was accepted into evidence.

6.7  Order of Hearing Proceedings

6.7.1  Reading of Charges

The Chair of the Hearing Panel shall begin the hearing by reading the specification of charges into the record.

6.7.2  Opening Statements

The Panel Chair, in his/her discretion, may allow opening statements by the parties limited to a preview of what each party expects to present to the Panel through testimony and documentary evidence.  The Chair may set a time limit for each party to present an opening statement.  The parties shall have the option to waive opening statements.

6.7.3  Provost’s Evidence

The Provost, or Provost’s legal counsel, shall present evidence to support the charges.  The faculty member, or faculty member’s legal counsel, shall have the right to cross-examine all witnesses at the conclusion of their testimony.  Following cross-examination, the Hearing Panel shall have the opportunity to ask the witnesses any questions.

6.7.4  Faculty Member’s Evidence

The faculty member, or faculty member’s legal counsel, shall present evidence to refute the charges.  The Provost, or Provost’s legal counsel, shall have the right to cross-examine all witnesses at the conclusion of their testimony.  Following cross-examination, the Panel shall have the opportunity to ask the witnesses any questions.

6.7.5  Rebuttal Evidence

At the conclusion of the faculty member’s presentation of evidence, the Provost, or Provost’s legal counsel, may present rebuttal evidence limited to matters brought forth by the faculty member.  The Chair, in his/her discretion, may allow the faculty member, or faculty member’s legal counsel, to present surrebuttal evidence limited to matters brought forth by the Provost or Provost’s counsel on rebuttal.

6.7.6  Closing Arguments

The parties shall be allowed to present closing arguments to the Panel.  The Provost, as the party with the burden of proof, has the option to present closing argument first or last.  The closing argument provides the parties with the opportunity to present their respective positions based upon the evidence presented.  The closing argument may not be used to introduce new evidence.  The Panel Chair may set a time limit for each party to present a closing argument.

7.  PANEL DELIBERATIONS/CLOSED SESSION

The Panel’s deliberations take place in closed session after the evidentiary hearing has been completed.  The Panel should review the charges, evaluate the competent evidence presented, and make a finding as to whether the charges have been substantiated.  A finding that one or more of the charges has been substantiated shall establish cause for discharge (or imposition of other serious sanction as indicated in the specification of charges).

8.  HEARING PANEL REPORT

8.1  Written Report

The Hearing Panel’s findings and recommendation shall be put into a written report addressed and delivered to the Chancellor within fourteen (14) calendar days after the hearing concludes or after the official transcript of the hearing is delivered to the Chair, whichever is preferable to the Panel.  If additional time is needed, the Panel may request that the Chancellor grant an extension of time to complete its report.  The report shall be signed by the Panel members subscribing to the report and shall note any dissenting votes.  Any Panel member may file a minority report that shall be attached to the Panel’s report.  Any Panel members subscribing to the minority report shall sign the report.

9.  OFFICIAL RECORD

The official record of the case shall include the following items: the transcript from the pre-hearing meeting; the transcript from the hearing; any stipulations by the parties; a copy of all documents accepted into evidence; a copy of all (segregated) documents or summaries of witness testimony submitted as an offer of proof that were excluded from evidence and not considered by the Hearing Panel; all correspondence to/from the Panel Chair and/or the Panel to/from the parties or to the Panel.  The official record should contain a table of contents and should be arranged in a logical and organized fashion.  The official record shall be forwarded to the Chancellor when the Panel’s final report is submitted.

10.  RELEASE OF HEARING PANEL/FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

10.1  If the Chancellor accepts the Hearing Panel’s findings and recommendation without the need for any further clarifying information or additional evidence, the Chancellor shall formally release the Hearing Panel from any further responsibility pertaining to the proceeding.

10.2  If the Chancellor determines that additional proceedings are necessary, the matter will be remanded with instructions to the Hearing Panel for further action.  For example, the Panel may be asked to hear additional evidence and to re-evaluate the recommendation or to clarify portions of the Panel’s findings and/or recommendation.  Once the Panel has completed any additional action upon remand, the Chancellor shall formally release the Panel from any further responsibility pertaining to the proceeding.

11.  CHANCELLOR’S DECISION

11.1  If the Chancellor concurs in a recommendation of the Hearing Panel that is favorable to the faculty member, the Chancellor’s decision shall be final.

11.2  If the Chancellor either declines to accept a Hearing Panel recommendation that is favorable to the faculty member or concurs in a Panel recommendation that is unfavorable to the faculty member, the faculty member may appeal the Chancellor’s decision to the Board of Trustees.

11.3  The Chancellor’s decision shall be sent to the faculty member by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by other method of delivery requiring a signature upon receipt.  A copy of the decision shall also be sent to the Provost and the Chair of the Hearing Panel.

12.  APPEAL TO BOARD OF TRUSTEES

12.1  An appeal, if any, of the Chancellor’s decision shall be filed within fourteen (14) calendar days after the faculty member receives notice of the Chancellor’s decision.  The appeal shall be addressed to the Board of Trustees (Board) but shall be submitted to the Chancellor’s Office.

12.2  The appeal to the Board of Trustees shall be decided by the full Board.  However, the Board may delegate the duty of reviewing the appeal to a standing or ad hoc committee of at least three (3) members.  The Board, or its committee, shall consider the appeal based upon the written record.

12.3  The Board’s decision shall typically be made at the next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting following receipt of the faculty member’s request for an appeal to the Board.

12.4  The Board’s decision shall be final except that the faculty member may file an appeal to the Board of Governors pursuant to Section 603 of the Code.