Two Annual Reports of the Faculty Grievance Commission

From the 1996-1997 Committee

During its 1996-97 term, the Faculty Grievance Commission handled a variety of potential grievances, one of which went to a full hearing, and several of which continued into the 1997-98 term. The grievances raised covered a number of serious issues, including denial of due process in a scientific misconduct hearing, the role of School Committees on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, employment conditions, the process of salary determination and age discrimination.

As noted, only one of the cases went to a full hearing. Two others were close to a full hearing, but ended short of that with a satisfactory remedy agreed by all parties. The remaining cases (six in total) were either rejected by the Commission or were ultimately settled, typically through a negotiation process between the faculty member, the Commission and appropriate members of the administration.

The 1996-97 term emphasized the key role of the Faculty Grievance Commission as an instrument to encourage discussion and compromise between potential grievants and the University administration. In several instances, responsible administrators had simply not taken the time to understand the issues surrounding a potential grievance. Once they did understand them, remedies were easily found. Unfortunately, however, not all cases were that simple.

Faculty members who participated in panels, or prepared themselves to do so, are gratefully acknowledged. Their role is ultimately the foundation of the faculty grievance process to assure that the voice of reason will govern our affairs.

The members of the 1996-97 Faculty Grievance Commission were Paul R. Kleindorfer, chair, Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, chair-elect, and Seymour J. Mandelbaum, past chair.

--Paul R. Kleindorfer, Chair

From the 1997-1998 Committee

During its 1997-98 term, the Faculty Grievance Commission handled six potential grievances on different topics. The grievances were extremely varied, and many of them involved substantial issues of governance and/or due process. They were raised by faculty from different schools, both male and female, at different levels of seniority.

Of the matters brought before the Commission during 1997-98, two were still pending at the conclusion of the term on June 30, 1998. In addition, after exploring the facts behind several grievances, the Faculty Grievance Commission concluded they were not within its jurisdiction.

The matters complained of included failures of due process in tenure and promotion proceedings, lack of due process or unfair treatment in internal decisions of schools and departments, application of inappropriate standards for compensation, teaching assignments and promotion decisions, and allegations of race and gender discrimination.

The Commission worked diligently to resolve matters informally, if possible, as required by its rules. During the period of this report, only one grievance reached the stage of forwarding to the Provost and impaneling a panel, and no hearings were held or decisions rendered by panels. This was made possible by the collective efforts of deans of schools, department chairs, Provost and potential grievants who were willing to work constructively with the Commission. Their efforts enabled settlement in all but two of the potential or pending grievances in a manner satisfactory to all parties, either before filing of a formal grievance or before a formal hearing began. The University community as a whole benefited from the time and effort dedicated by all parties to overcoming communications gaps and achieving constructive outcomes in a non-adversarial spirit.

--Barbara Bennett Woodhouse, Chair

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 11, November 10, 1998