FAQs - Faculty and Tenure
- What is the UM stance on academic freedom and tenure?
- What if a faculty member is accused of research dishonesty?
- Under what circumstances can faculty be dismissed?
- What if a tenured faculty member isn't meeting his departmental obligations?
There is so much controversy in the public about tenure and academic freedom. Exactly what is the University's stance on academic freedom and its relationship to tenure?
The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri has recognized the value of academic freedom and the principle of tenure. Board regulations, Section 310.010 of the Collected Rules, reads as follows:
The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri believes that academic freedom and the economic security of its academic staff are indispensable to the success of the University of Missouri in fulfilling its obligations to its students and to society. The Board, therefore, hereby adopts and approves the following principles, the detailed application of which is implemented by the rules and regulations of the Board; and also adopts the following rules and regulations. (Although these rules and regulations cover in some detail certain aspects of the nature of regular academic staff positions, appointments thereto, and the rights of the holders thereof, these rules and regulations do not purport to cover in the same detail the nature of non regular academic staff positions, appointments thereto, or the rights of the holders thereof, and do not purport to cover in any way non-academic staff.)
A. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The Board hereby reaffirms the principles of academic freedom in teaching and research for teachers and academic investigators (herein referred to as faculty members). These principles are as follows:
- Institutions of higher education are established and maintained for the common good, which depends upon the free search for truth and its free expression.
- Academic freedom is essential to these purposes and applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental to the protection of the rights of the faculty member in teaching and of the student in learning. It carries with it duties correlative with rights. The following sections are indicative of these rights and duties.
- Faculty members are entitled to freedom in research and in the publication of the results (qualified insofar as necessary in the case of sponsored research), subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties.
- Faculty members are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects, but have the responsibility not to depart significantly from their respective areas of competence or to divert substantial time to material extraneous to the course.
- College or university faculty members are citizens, members of an educational institution, and members of learned professions. When they speak or write as citizens, they are to be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. They should anticipate that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances and actions.
- Hence, they should at all times be accurate, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and make every effort to indicate that they do not speak for the institution.
B. THE PRINCIPLE OF TENURE
Tenure is the right to be free from dismissal without cause. Tenure is indispensable to the success of an institution of higher education in fulfilling its obligations to the common good.
For more information about tenure and academic freedom consult the Collected Rules and Regulations.
A situation has come to my attention that suggests one of the faculty members in my department may be guilty of research dishonesty. How should I handle it?
One of the most important academic responsibilities of the University of Missouri is the generation of knowledge through research and creative activity. It is critical that the highest ethical standards in research be maintained. Consequently, any alleged breach of these ethical standards is considered to be a very serious matter and should be handled properly in accordance with established University procedures.
Research dishonesty is defined as any conduct that is intended to mislead or falsely communicate research data or results, or which communicates such data or results in reckless disregard of their false or misleading character. Some examples of research dishonesty include:
- Deliberately issuing false or misleading statements or publications concerning research data or results.
- Intentional or reckless distortion or misinterpretation of research data or results.
Use of research methods which the researcher knows to be unreliable or highly likely to produce unreliable results, unless appropriately explained in publications and reports of the research.
- Plagiarism or the release of research data or scholarly efforts of other persons, and representing them as one's own or failing to give appropriate credit to their source.
Any person who receives an allegation of research dishonesty must immediately forward the allegation in writing to the dean or director of the academic unit where the accused academic faculty or staff member is located. Every effort should be made to preserve the confidentiality of the allegation and not to discuss the situation with any one not involved in the formal procedures. The dean or director should then immediately provide a copy of the written allegation to the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) on campus, the accused academic faculty or staff member, and the department chair where the member is located.
After the allegation is made, and assuming it is not dismissed by the campus CAO, there will be an inquiry into the allegations of dishonesty by a three-person committee appointed by the dean made up of full professors with knowledge of the academic area. Following the report of the committee, the Chief Academic Officer may dismiss the allegations for lack of sufficient evidence or initiate an investigation into the alleged dishonesty.
If an investigation is held, it is conducted by a standing campus-wide faculty committee using formal procedures outlined in the Collected Rules and Regulations Section 420.020.
For more information about the procedures for addressing research dishonesty consult the University of Missouri Collected Rules and Regulations Section 420.020.
Under what circumstances can faculty members be dismissed?
Essentially faculty members with tenure can only be dismissed for cause or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigency, or because of formal discontinuance of a program or department. Furthermore, untenured faculty members (regular or non regular) have essentially the same protections prior to the stated ending date of their term appointments. The decision not to renew a term appointment (regular or non regular) is not a dismissal and therefore is not subject to the same restrictions.
- Adequate cause for dismissal shall be related directly and substantially to the faculty member's fitness or performance in the professional capacity as teacher or researcher. The Board regulations state that cause for dismissal may include but is not limited to the following.
- Conviction of a felony or other crime involving moral turpitude during the period of employment by the University of Missouri which is related, directly and substantially, to the faculty member's academic fitness or performance in the professional capacity of teacher or researcher.
- Professional incompetence in the performance of academic responsibilities.
- Intentional and habitual neglect of duty in the performance of academic responsibilities, provided that a written warning and a reasonable opportunity to correct the behavior have been given.
- Severe research misconduct, academic irresponsibility, or other default of academic integrity in the performance of academic responsibilities.
- Willful misrepresentation of material matters in applying to the University of Missouri for employment which are related, directly and substantially, to the faculty member's fitness or performance in the professional capacity of teacher or researcher.
- Either extreme or repeated sexual harassment or racial, gender or other discriminatory practices.
The decision to initiate dismissal for cause proceedings rests with the Chancellor in accordance with section 310.060 of the Collected Rules.
I have a tenured faculty member in my department who clearly is not performing his or her obligations to the department. What do I do now?
Obviously this is a serious condition and you should have a face-to-face meeting with the faculty member to discuss his or her performance and spell out appropriate expectations. You should also document your meetings with the faculty member to discuss performance. You should also have a discussion with your dean about the situation immediately. One common mistake that occurs is that the offending faculty member never receives concrete feedback that his or her performance is not satisfactory. In cases where the faculty member's performance is substandard it is important to document specific incidents as well as any face-to-face meetings to discuss performance.
It is important to note that all faculty members must receive an annual performance reviews. In situations where there are significant performance issues, it is recommended that written evaluations be provided to the faculty members in writing and copies filed to provide proper documentation. Furthermore, merit raises should be allocated on the basis of merit and be consistent with a candid evaluation of performance and the annual review.
Each campus has a procedure that annually identifies tenured faculty members whose performances are of the nature that they might warrant termination for cause. In those instances, department chairs must report these cases to the Chancellor through established procedures as well as report any steps or remedial measures being taken to deal with the situation.
When there are performance issues, the preferred course of action is to deal with such individual problems before "dismissal for cause" becomes necessary. Deans and department chairs have primary responsibility for dealing with such instances both before and after they develop.
There are specific procedures that are normally followed on each campus related to performance deficiencies. The Office of the Provost or Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on campus should be a useful resource for both chairs and deans for advice about common practices and procedures. In cases of dismissal of faculty for cause, the Chancellor makes the decision to initiate the procedures.
For more information consult the University of Missouri Collected Rules and Regulations Section 310.060.
Reviewed August 28, 2014.