Policy Number: 133
Termination of faculty members
- Date Reviewed:
- August 2015
- Responsible Office:
- Office of Academic and Research Affairs
- Responsible Executive:
- Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
Termination of the employment of a faculty member of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) who has been granted tenure or termination of all other types of faculty members before the expiration of the stated period of appointment, except as is otherwise provided in Rule 31007, Section 5 of The University of Texas System Board of Regents’ Rules and Regulations, or Texas Education Code Section 51.943, or by resignation or retirement, will only be for good cause shown. In cases of incompetence or gross immorality where the facts are admitted, or in cases of a felony conviction, the hearing procedures described below shall not apply, and the dismissal of the faculty member by the President will follow.
In cases of termination as a result of academic program closure or abandonment, refer to HOOP Policy 120 Abandonment of Academic Positions or Programs.
A. Review of Allegations and Recommendation to the President
1. The relevant dean will notify the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs (“EVPARA”) of the charges against an accused faculty member. The EVPARA will, in turn, notify the President.
2. If the President determines that the nature of the charges and evidence are such that it is in the best interest of the university, he or she may suspend an accused faculty member with pay pending the completion of the hearing and a final decision.
3. The EVPARA will review all allegations against a faculty member that involve the potential for termination. In cases of alleged incompetence, the EVPARA will review the allegations to ensure they are based on job performance and job-related conduct.
4. The accused individual will be informed in writing of the charges against him or her. The faculty member who is the subject of the allegations shall be given an opportunity to be interviewed and shall have the right to present a grievance, in person or through a representative, to the EVPARA on an issue or subject related to the allegations under review. This grievance shall be considered to be filed under this policy rather than under HOOP 127, Faculty Grievances.
5. The EVPARA, or another individual designated by the President if the allegations pertain to the EVPARA, shall take the grievance, if any, into consideration prior to making a determination whether the allegations are supported by evidence that justifies the initiation of the termination for cause process.
a. Failure to present a grievance to the EVPARA prior to his or her recommendation shall not preclude a faculty member from presenting an issue or subject to the special hearing tribunal in defense of charges for termination that may result from the review.
b. A faculty member under review for matters that may result in termination may only file a grievance pursuant to HOOP Policy 127 Faculty Grievances if the subject of the grievance is not involved in the review. A pending grievance may proceed only if it does not involve a subject under such review.
6. The EVPARA will recommend to the President whether to proceed with termination for cause.
7. If the President determines the allegations are supported by evidence that justifies the initiation of the termination for cause process, he or she will meet with the faculty member, explain the allegations and supporting evidence, and give the faculty member a reasonable amount of time, as determined by the President, to respond either orally or in writing. After receiving the faculty member’s response, the President may decide not to move forward with the termination for cause process. If he or she decides to proceed:
a. A tenured faculty member who is recommended for termination on the basis of periodic evaluation must be given the opportunity for referral of the matter to nonbinding alternative dispute resolution, as required by Texas Education Code Section 51.942 and in compliance with applicable UT System and university policies and procedures for alternative dispute resolution, prior to referral of the charges to a hearing tribunal.
b. Except in cases of incompetence or gross immorality where the facts are admitted, or in cases of a felony conviction, the hearing procedures described below shall be initiated.
The President will appoint a tribunal of at least three faculty members to hear the accusation, giving reasonable notice to the individual concerned.
Members of the tribunal for individual hearings will be selected by the President from a standing panel. The membership of this panel will be composed of nine tenured faculty members, with six chosen by the Interfaculty Council ("IFC") and three by the President.
1. Composition of the Standing Panel
The nine tenured faculty members shall be selected as follows:
- Six elected by the IFC: two per year for three-year terms (initially assign two for one year, two for two years, and two for three years).
- Three by the President: one per year for three-year terms (initially one for one year, one for two years, and one for three years).
2. Selection of the Tribunal
The President will select at least one appointee from those chosen by the IFC for membership on each tribunal. The academic rank of each of the tribunal's members will be at least equal to that of the accused individual. Members of the tribunal will select one member to serve as chair of the tribunal.
No person who accuses the faculty member may be included in the tribunal's membership.
The accused faculty member will be notified of the names of the faculty members selected for the tribunal and of the date, time and place for the hearing. Such notification shall be made at least eight business days prior to the hearing. The accused may challenge the ability of any member or members to serve fairly or objectively. The challenge from the faculty member must be made in writing to the tribunal at least three business days prior to the first scheduled meeting of the tribunal.
Each appointee who is challenged in this way must determine whether he or she can serve with fairness and objectivity. If a member voluntarily disqualifies himself or herself, the President will appoint a substitute member from the panel. The accused has no right to disqualify anyone from serving on the tribunal.
The President may request counsel from the UT System Office of General Counsel to advise the hearing tribunal.
The accused has the right to appear in person at each hearing and is entitled to the selection and use of counsel at the accused's expense. If the accused is represented by counsel, the university is entitled to representation by counsel from the UT System Administration's Office of General Counsel or by a university attorney.
The accused has the right to confront and to cross-examine witnesses who may appear; the right to testify, though he or she may not be required to do so; and the right to introduce all evidence, written or oral, that is relevant and material to the defense.
A representative of the university may appear before the tribunal to present witnesses and evidence against the accused and in support of the charge. This representative has the right to cross-examine the accused (should the accused exercise the right to testify) and the witnesses offered on behalf of the accused.
The university has the burden to prove good cause for termination by the greater weight of the credible evidence.
A transcript or verbatim electronic recording of the proceedings will be kept by the university and will also be filed with the UT System Board of Regents (“Board”). The record will be made accessible to the accused.
The tribunal is charged with generating the following information (by a majority decision of its total membership) for consideration by the President:
- written findings on the material facts,
- recommendations on the continuation or the termination of the faculty member's appointment, and
- supplementary suggestions relevant to the disposition of the case, if any.
The President will receive the original documentation of all the above-mentioned materials, and the accused will receive a copy. Any minority findings, recommendations, or suggestions generated by the tribunal will be delivered in similar fashion. The original record of the proceedings, including testimony and exhibits, shall also be forwarded to the President.
Within fourteen business days after receipt of the findings and recommendations of the hearing tribunal, the President will make one of the following decisions based solely on the evidence in the record of the proceedings and shall report that decision in writing to the accused faculty member. The President may:
- Decide to dismiss the matter or impose sanctions short of termination. In this case, the President's decision is final, and the Board will not review the matter.
- Decide to recommend termination to the Board, if the allegations are supported by evidence that constitutes good cause for termination. If so, the President shall forward the findings and recommendations of the hearing tribunal, the original transcript of the testimony, the exhibits and the President’s report to the Board for its review. If the President's recommendation is not the same as the majority recommendation of the hearing tribunal, the President shall state the reasons for the President's decision to recommend termination in his or her report. The accused faculty member may, within seven business days after receiving the President's report, submit a written response to the Board. The response must be based solely on the evidence of record in the proceeding.
The Board, by a majority of its total membership, will approve, reject, or amend such findings, recommendations, and suggestions, if any, or will recommit the report to the same tribunal to hear additional evidence and reconsider its findings, recommendations, and suggestions. Reasons for approval, rejection, or amendment will be stated in writing and communicated to the accused. The decision of the Board is final.
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