5.06 / Resolution of Internal Disputes for Faculty



The collegial atmosphere of the University community is best served through informal resolution of disputes. To resolve internal disputes, to assure careful consideration of personnel actions and complaints, and to safeguard academic freedom, Wichita State University provides for the review of grievances filed by faculty members of the University. Faculty members should turn to the grievance process only after the normal methods of administrative remedy have been tried. The term "faculty member" refers to persons who, at the time the grievance is filed, are full-time members of the faculty or who hold a fractional time appointment of .5 or more, and who are tenured, temporary, probationary, or instructors with faculty status.

Any faculty member who has a grievance must first make a bona fide effort to resolve the matter through University channels at the most immediate level. In most instances this should involve the chair, and if appropriate, the dean. If discrimination is alleged, the faculty member shall seek resolution by contacting the Executive Director of Equal Employment Opportunity. In the event that the complaint is directed against the Provost and Senior Vice President, the faculty member is encouraged to seek resolution of the dispute with the President of the University. If a faculty member appeals to agencies outside the University before the internal grievance procedure has been completed, the President of the University may tell the Faculty Senate Rules Committee to stop the review.

Right of Consultation

A faculty member may invite a colleague to attend a discussion or meeting with his or her chair, dean, or other supervisory administrator at which the faculty member's professional activity or performance will be discussed, and should notify the administrator accordingly.

The invited colleague may act as an advisor or witness, and may participate in the discussion if invited to do so by any of the others present.

The invited colleague is not a representative of the faculty member and shall not be nor serve as legal counsel. His or her role is that of colleague and advisor, with a responsibility to assist in the consultations to produce a satisfactory resolution of the dispute. Responsibility for any decisions or actions taken remains with the parties to the dispute. Any other administrative officer invited to such a meeting or discussion has the same limited responsibilities as an invited faculty colleague, unless he/she has regular, pre-existing administrative responsibilities for the issues being discussed.

When a faculty member invites a colleague to attend such a meeting or discussion, he or she assumes responsibility for any loss of confidentiality that results from that colleague's actions. The presence of an invited colleague does not imply that a written record of the meeting must be kept; it does not preclude any participant from submitting a summary memorandum to others who were present for their authentication.

Faculty Senate Ombudsperson

Faculty Senate Ombudspersons are available to provide assistance to faculty members in the identification or articulation of internal disputes that arise within the University. The Ombudsperson's role is to resolve concerns and disputes that arise within the University, and as such, may facilitate a satisfactory settlement of the dispute without necessitating the filing of a grievance. The decision whether to file a grievance is, however, the prerogative of the individual. A list of the current Ombudspersons shall be posted on the Faculty Senate's website. Faculty members are encouraged to contact an Ombudsperson before filing a grievance. The president-elect of the Faculty Senate shall assist the faculty member in connecting with an Ombudsperson if necessary.

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee shall nominate three tenured faculty members, from a pool of previous faculty senate presidents, to serve as Ombudspersons for three-year staggered terms. The appointments will be confirmed by a vote of the Faculty Senate. By virtue of their prior service, those chosen to serve as Ombudspersons will possess significant knowledge of University structure and operations.

A person may not be in the grievance pool during the time of service as Ombudsperson. Administrators, as defined in the Faculty Senate Constitution, shall not be eligible for appointment. Administrators include those persons holding the title of President, Provost, Vice President, Associate Vice President, Assistant Vice President, Dean, Associate Dean, Assistant Dean, and Directors of all non-academic programs including, but not limited to, the Director of the Computer Center, Director of the Office of Institutional Research, Director of Physical Plant, the Registrar, and Director of Cooperative Education.
Policies and Procedures for Processing Grievances for Faculty

I. Grievance General Information

A. Filing the Complaint
If the dispute is not settled through informal means, the faculty member may invoke the University's grievance policy by contacting the Chair of the Rules Committee and submitting a formal complaint. In discrimination grievances, if contacted first, the Rules Committee Chairperson will direct the faculty member to the Executive Director of Equal Employment Opportunity.

B. Complaints Excluded from the Grievance Procedure

Complaints based on the following are excluded from this grievance procedure:

Tenure and Promotion
Hiring Decisions
Traffic Fines
Library Fines
Dismissal for Cause
Sexual Harassment
Complaints of Unlawful Discrimination

C. Time Limits

The complaint form should be filed within three months from the date on which the act/s which are the basis of the grievance occurred or the date on which the act/s became known. All grievance procedures, including but not limited to grievance hearings, are suspended from May 18 to August 18. Grievances filed during that period will be processed as if filed on August 18.

The time requirements in this grievance policy shall be followed to the extent reasonably possible. When used, the term "class days" refers to weekdays, when classes are in session.

D. Suspension of Faculty Member During the Proceedings

A faculty member may be suspended during a grievance if, in the judgment of the President, immediate harm to the faculty member or to others is threatened by continued service. This suspension occurs without prejudice and, except in extremely unusual circumstances, without loss of compensation until the grievance procedures herein are concluded and the action of the Vice President for Academic Affairs is taken pursuant to Section IV of this policy.

E. Complaint Form

The complaint form requires the faculty member to describe the nature of the complaint, the date on which the act/s which is/are the basis of the grievance occurred, and shall state the alleged improper action and explain the desired redress. This statement will serve as a petition requesting the Rules Committee to call together a Review Committee to review the matter. Submission of a petition does not automatically entail investigation or a detailed consideration of the problem.

F. Review by the Rules Committee

The Rules Committee must decide whether the faculty member has made a bona fide effort to resolve the problem. The Rules Committee will decide within ten class days whether the grievance should be processed and a Review Committee formed. A decision not to process the grievance may be appealed to the Faculty Senate President who will decide within five class days of receiving the appeal whether to overrule the decision. If the petition is accepted, the Rules Committee Chair shall appoint a Convener from the Panel of Conveners (See Section VII below) and a Review Committee from the faculty members who are on the Grievance Board (See Section VIII below).

G. Convener

The Convener is not a voting member of the Grievance Review Committee. The Convener's role is that of an administrator and executive secretary.The Convener shall have the following responsibilities:

Send a copy of the complaint form and supporting documents to all parties to the action, to the dean, and to the Provost and Senior Vice President .
Schedule all meetings of the Review Committee.
The first hearing meeting is to be scheduled no later than 15 class days after the appointment of the Review Committee.
Chair all meetings of the Review Committee.
Keep all parties informed.
Ensure that fair and proper procedures are followed.
File the final report with the office of the Provost and Senior Vice President and with the Chair of the Rules Committee.
Act as secretary for all appeals of the grievance.

H. The Review Committee

A Review Committee of five will be chosen from the Grievance Board by the Chair of the Rules Committee. Faculty may remove themselves from the case for bias or conflict of interest. In addition, each party to the grievance will have a total of two challenges. If any member of the Review Committee is unable to continue because of illness or for other good and sufficient reasons, the hearing shall proceed with fewer members unless one or more of the parties has a compelling reason for requesting that another person from the Grievance Board be selected to replace the Review Committee member who is unable to continue, in which case the Convener shall request the Chair of the Rules Committee to select a replacement.

The Review Committee has the following responsibilities:

To attend all meetings called by the Convener.
To ensure that fair, proper, and confidential procedures are followed.
To consider all pertinent and relevant evidence in the case.
To decide whether the allegations have been sustained by the evidence, determine whether a wrong has occurred, and to make recommendations concerning possible relief.

II. Pre-Hearing Procedures

A. Meeting of the Convener and the Parties

The parties to the dispute will submit written summaries of the major issues to be decided to the Convener, and the Convener will then schedule a meeting with the parties to:

Clarify and, where possible, simplify the issues.
Stipulate to the facts, if possible.
Arrange for the exchange by the parties of all documents which each party intends to present to the Review Committee, and establish a deadline for that exchange which shall be no later than five class days before the formal hearing. A party to the grievance may not present any documents to the Review Committee at the grievance hearing unless they have been provided to the other parties to the grievance by the foregoing deadline.
Identify the witnesses whom each party intends to call at the grievance hearing.
Discuss the participation of advisors to the parties who are not and shall not act nor serve as legal counsel.
To notify either or both parties of specific material/information requested by the Review Committee.

B. Meeting of the Convener and the Review Committee

The Convener will call the Review Committee to its first meeting to review the procedures and responsibilities of the Review Committee.

C. Cooperation of the Parties

All parties should make every effort to cooperate with the Convener and each other during these preliminary activities. If there are unjustifiable delays in the proceedings, the Convener may so advise the Review Committee. At its discretion the Review Committee may determine that one or more of the parties are not cooperating, report this fact to the Rules Committee, and adjourn. If the adjournment is accepted by the Rules Committee, the Convener will declare the proceedings closed and the grievance process shall be terminated.

III. Hearing Procedures

The faculty member may elect to submit the grievance to a hearing before the Review Committee or to waive a hearing. If a hearing is waived, the Review Committee will evaluate the evidence and base its findings and recommendations on the documents and materials provided by the parties to the grievance. If the faculty member elects a hearing before the Review Committee, the following procedures for the hearing shall be followed:

A. The Convener shall establish a time for the hearing, taking into account the needs of the parties. However, unless there are extenuating circumstances, the hearing shall be held no later than forty-five calendar days after the Rules Committee determines that the grievance should be processed.

B. The Review Committee will judge what information it needs to decide the case and may request that either or both parties provide such additional information as it deems appropriate. The Review Committee has no power of subpoena and participation in the hearing is voluntary on the part of the parties. Unless good cause is shown, the hearing shall be closed. Upon request from either party, witnesses may be excluded from the hearing room while not testifying.

C. The hearing is not a court of law and should not be expected to follow the rules and procedures of a court. However, the hearing should ensure a thorough, fair, open, and impartial review.

D. At the Review Committee's discretion, during the course of the hearing the grievant may be invited to amplify the statement of complaint; the other party may be asked to speak in defense; both parties may call witnesses; the Review Committee and the Convener may question both parties and all witnesses.

E. The parties to the grievance may invite an advisor from the Wichita State University community to be present and give counsel, but such advisor, including those with legal training, shall not be nor serve as legal counsel.

F. No recording or transcript of the hearing will be made, but the Convener and each Review Committee member may keep notes to assist in preparing a report describing the proceedings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Review Committee. A committee member's notes will be confidential and the work product of the committee member.

G. When the Review Committee is satisfied that all reasonably available pertinent information has been presented, the Convener shall declare the hearing closed.

IV. Decision of the Review Committee

The Review Committee shall deliberate in private in order to review the information presented and arrive at its recommendations. The Review Committee must submit a written report of proceedings, conclusions, and recommendations no later than ten class days after the close of the hearing. The Convener shall send the report to the parties of the dispute, the dean, the Provost and Senior Vice President , and to the Chair of the Rules Committee, who shall file the report in the Faculty Senate office. The report should (1) restate the charges, (2) present the facts, (3) indicate whether a wrong occurred, and (4) recommend what should be done. The Review Committee will make its recommendations to the Provost and Senior Vice President , who will decide to accept, reject, or modify those recommendations. In the event that the Provost and Senior Vice President is the subject of the grievance, the recommendation will be sent to the President of the University. The existence of the grievance procedure assumes that the Review Committee's recommendations will generally be accepted or will be rejected or modified only for compelling reasons.

V. Appeal to the Provost and Senior Vice President

Either party has the right to make a final statement in writing to be sent to the Provost and Senior Vice President. . The statement must be submitted no later than five class days after receipt of the Review Committee's recommendations. The Provost and Senior Vice President will act on the matter within ten class days after the deadline of receipt of final statements. Notice of final action taken by the Provost and Senior Vice President shall be sent to the Convener, the parties, the dean, the Review Committee, and the Chair of the Rules Committee, who shall file the notice, with identifying information deleted, in the Faculty Senate office. The written material presented by both parties to the Review Committee and the Review Committee's final report will be kept on file by the Provost and Senior Vice President for three years. This material will be held in confidence as personnel related material.

VI. Appeal to the President

Either party to the grievance may appeal the decision of the Provost and Senior Vice President by submitting a letter to the President of the University within ten class days from the date of the receipt of the Provost and Senior Vice President decision, requesting an appeal of that decision. A copy of the appeal letter shall be submitted to the Review Committee Convener, who will assure that the dean, the Provost and Senior Vice President , Review Committee members, and the other parties to the grievance receive copies.

The letter requesting the appeal must state the basis for seeking the appeal. An appeal must be based on one or more of the following reasons:

The decision was not substantiated by the evidence;
The decision was erroneous in light of applicable University standards, policies, and/or procedures;
The procedures as outlined in this policy and/or as modified by the Review Committee (as allowed by the policy) were not followed; or
Actual bias on the part of the Review Committee and/or Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The other parties to the dispute and the Review Committee may submit written comments to the President regarding the appeal no later than five class days after receipt of the notice of the appeal. The President shall review the original materials, any statements sent by the parties to the Provost and Senior Vice President or the President regarding the grievance, and the Provost and Senior Vice President final action. The President shall notify the Provost and Senior Vice President , both parties to the dispute, the Convener of the Review Committee, and the Chair of the Rules Committee of his or her final action within ten class days of receipt of material. A copy of this notification, with identifying information deleted, shall be filed in the Faculty Senate office.

VII. Panel of Conveners

Conveners will be drawn from a panel of ten tenured faculty members. This panel of conveners will be selected by the Rules Committee of the Senate in consultation with the Chair of the Rules Committee.

VIII. Grievance Board

Each year a Grievance Board consisting of 50 or more tenured faculty members to act as potential Review Committee members will be selected at random from the eligible faculty in proportion to the numbers in each rank, race/ethnicity, and sex. None of the Grievance Board members may be members of the Rules Committee. Persons who serve on a grievance Review Committee are exempt from serving on another grievance committee for a three year period. Persons selected for serving on the grievance board must petition the Provost and Senior Vice President to be excused.

Revision Date:
March 15, 2006
March 15, 2014