4.32 / Substance Abuse

  1. Purpose

    This policy for dealing with faculty members with substance abuse problems is intended to enhance and encourage a cooperative effort between faculty and the University and to serve and protect the interests of both. The policy recognizes that professional assistance can often return an individual to full productivity and is based on the premise that it is the faculty member's right and responsibility to seek professional assistance for a substance abuse problem.

  2. Scope

    A faculty member with a possible substance abuse problem, even in its early stages, is encouraged to seek diagnosis and treatment. The faculty member should be assured that seeking assistance, pursuant to this policy, for an actual or potential substance problem, will not interfere with job status, promotional opportunities or other privileges. A substance abuse problem is defined as one in which a faculty member's use or misuse of alcohol or drugs is reasonably believed to be affecting the faculty member's job performance.

  3. Policy overview

    The goal of this policy is to assist individuals in seeking professional help so they may return to full productivity. All faculty members, especially department chairpersons, should work to engender a University-wide enlightened attitude and a realistic recognition of the nature of substance abuse problems.

  4. Responsibility

    1. Responsibility for implementing this policy rests with faculty. Care must be taken to follow procedures so that no faculty member with a substance abuse problem will be penalized for implementing the policy.

    2. Supervisors will seek to do everything reasonably possible, consistent with applicable laws and University procedures, to make certain that information revealed by the faculty member receiving professional assistance relating to an actual or potential substance abuse problem will remain confidential.

    3. Implementing this policy will not require, or result in, any special treatment, privileges, or exemption from the standard administrative practices applicable to job performance requirements.

  5. Action Guidelines

    The steps listed below are suggested guidelines only. Department chairpersons, deans, and other faculty supervisors should not attempt diagnosis, even if they have professional qualifications to judge that a faculty member's work has been affected by a substance abuse problem.

    1. Before attempting intervention in a situation involving a faculty member with a substance abuse problem, the concerned supervisor should discuss with his/her supervisor and the Associate Vice President and University Title IX Coordinator the pertinent rules and requirements concerning protection of rights of the person believed to be suffering from a substance abuse problem. It may also be helpful for the supervisor to consult with a professional in substance abuse treatment without identifying the concerned faculty member before meeting with him or her. The University's Counseling Center is staffed with professional counselors who may be able to assist supervisors.

    2. The supervisor should meet with the faculty member informally and discuss the observed job performance problems. Supervisors should not attempt diagnosis. If the faculty member references a substance abuse problem as a causative factor for the job performance problems, the supervisor should advise the faculty member of this substance abuse policy, activate the policy and encourage the faculty member to seek professional counseling for the problem. In this discussion, a date will be set by which improvement in job performance will be assessed. A list of professional agencies will be available to supervisors. This list may be obtained by contacting the Office of Human Resources.

    3. The supervisor and the faculty member may also wish to consider the following options which may be pursued in connection with or in addition to professional counseling:

      1. A faculty member with accrued sick leave may take sick leave. This option would allow the faculty member to enter an inpatient treatment center and adopt a treatment program.
      2. A faculty member may request, pursuant to applicable University and Board of Regents policies, to be placed on leave of absence without pay.
    4. It is the responsibility of the faculty member to follow up the suggested professional counseling, to cooperate with prescribed treatment, and to assume financial responsibility for the cost of the treatment. The University, while concerned for the well-being of the faculty member, also expects the faculty member to address the job performance problems presented at the informal meeting.

    5. Between the initial meeting wherein this policy is activated and the date agreed upon in the second action guideline to assess improvement in job performance, the supervisor will continue to monitor job performance but will in all other respects leave the initiative for further discussions to the faculty member. However, progress reports and continuing dialogue between the supervisor and faculty member are encouraged.

    6. If the faculty member's job performance has improved to an acceptable level by the date prescribed by the supervisor, and as agreed to by the faculty member, the member should be so informed and no further action is required or necessary. On the other hand, if the faculty member's job performance remains below acceptable standards, the supervisor and the University will follow normal procedures with regard to unacceptable job performance, including, but not necessarily limited to, non-reappointment or dismissal.

    This policy is supplemental to and subject to all existing University policies, Board of Regents policies, and applicable state and federal laws.

  6. Revision Dates

    1. April 9, 2018
    2. August 22, 2023 (maintenance updates only)