Stanford University Home

Stanford News Archive

Stanford Report, January 12, 2000

Statement on faculty discipline

This Statement on Faculty Discipline was approved by the Senate of the Academic Council on December 2, 1999 and by the Board of Trustees on December 14, 1999. It replaces both the Statement on Faculty Discipline approved by the Senate of the Academic Council on May 18, 1972 and by the Board of Trustees on January 9, 1973, and the Rules for the Conduct of Hearings promulgated by the Advisory Board in 1973.

1. Definitions and Standards

1.1. In order to maintain the integrity of its teaching and research and to preserve academic freedom, Stanford University demands high standards of professional conduct from its faculty. In the case of a serious violation of these standards, a faculty member may face disciplinary charges under the following procedures.

1.2. These disciplinary procedures are invoked when the Provost formally charges a faculty member with professional misconduct that is serious enough to warrant a sanction ranging from censure to dismissal from the University. This procedure applies to members of the professoriate, as defined in Chapter 1, Section II (E) of the Faculty Hand-book. The Statement on Academic Freedom applies.

1.3. The Provost may charge a faculty member with professional misconduct only for actions taken in association with the faculty member's academic duties and responsibilities. Such misconduct includes but is not limited to the following: dishonest or unethical behavior in the faculty member's own teaching or research; preventing or obstruc-ting teaching or research or any other lawful function of the University; sexual harassment; and the neglect of University-related duties and responsibilities.

1.4. A faculty member charged under these procedures may be subject to sanctions including but not limited to the following: censure; a fine and/or a temporary reduction in pay; suspension from the University without pay for a specified period; indefinite reduction in pay; dismissal from the University.

2. Initiating the Process

2.1. Charges will be brought on behalf of the University by the Provost, following whatever factual investigation he or she deems appropriate. If a conflict of interest prevents the Provost from being involved, the President will act in the Provost's place. When charges are to be brought against a faculty member, he or she must be notified of the charges in confidence, and given an opportunity to reply. If the matter cannot be settled by agreement (which would require the President's approval), and if the faculty member charged wishes to contest the charges, the Provost shall prepare a written statement of the charges and of the proposed sanction, which will be given to the faculty member and the Advisory Board. Even after the written statement has been forwarded to the Board--and at any time in the proceedings--the Provost and the faculty member (with the approval of the President) may seek to resolve the matter by agreement. Throughout the proceedings, all those involved should keep in mind that the procedures here are those of a University and not a court of law, and therefore should seek to avoid an excessively legalistic approach.

2.2. The Advisory Board.

If a member of the Advisory Board recuses himself or herself, the Board may, but need not, replace such member(s) with an alternate. Once the Board membership is set for purposes of considering a case, the members should continue with the case until its conclusion even if their terms have ended; if a member must withdraw during the process, he or she need not be replaced. For purposes of this Statement, "Advisory Board" shall refer to this group: that is, the Board sitting at the time the charges are filed, less any recusals and withdrawals, plus any alternates assigned.

2.3. Framing the Issues.

2.3.1 Promptly, within such time as the Advisory Board determines, the faculty member must file with the Board a statement setting forth the defenses proposed, any factual allegations that are specifically disputed, and any additional factual matters to which the faculty member will draw attention. The University ordinarily has ten days to reply to this statement.

2.3.2 The statements of both parties should be specific enough to enable the Advisory Board to make a determination about what issues of historical fact (if any) are relevant to the charges and are in dispute. Either party may include in its statement an argument that certain facts under discussion are irrelevant to the disposition of the case or are not properly classified as issues of historical fact.

2.3.3 If the Advisory Board determines that there is a dispute about material issues of historical fact, the Board will notify the parties of such issues(s) and will select a qualified Hearing Officer from outside the University to hold an Evidentiary Hearing at a date to be set by the Board. If the Board determines that there is no dispute about material issues of historical fact, the Board will proceed to schedule the Final Hearing.

3. The Evidentiary Hearing

3.1. At least five weeks prior to the commencement of the Evidentiary Hearing, each party must provide the Hearing Officer and the other party with copies of the exhibits it intends to introduce as evidence and with a list of the witnesses it expects to call, along with a detailed summary of the testimony expected from each witness.

3.2. Immediately following these submissions, the Hearing Officer will entertain any motions (including motions to exclude any such testimony or exhibits as outside the scope of the issues, unduly prejudicial, etc.). At least four weeks prior to the date of the Evidentiary Hearing, the Hearing Officer will rule on any such motions and will prepare a Pre-Hearing Order composed of the Advisory Board's determination of issues, the Hearing Officer's ruling on the motions, and the parties' lists of exhibits and witnesses and summaries of testimony (revised to reflect any rulings by the Hearing Officer).

3.3. Either party may add to its list of exhibits and witnesses for the purpose of giving rebuttal evidence. The Hearing Officer will set the time for submission of copies of rebuttal exhibits and of the list of rebuttal witnesses. In the event that a party later proposes to use a witness or exhibit that was not disclosed by the specified time, the Hearing Officer will rule on whether and/or under what circumstances the evidence may be introduced.

3.4 The purpose of the Evidentiary Hearing is to reach conclusions on the material issues of historical fact identified by the Advisory Board. At the Evidentiary Hearing, the Hearing Officer will hear evidence and will then make detailed findings of historical fact, which are submitted to the Board.

3.5 Any witness shall be guaranteed the right in the Evidentiary Hearing to invoke the privilege (a) not to incriminate himself or herself in answer to any question, and (b) not to divulge a confidential communication from a University employee or student made with the understanding of all parties to the communication that it would be kept confidential.

4. The Final Hearing Before the Advisory Board.

4.1. After the Hearing Officer has submitted the findings of fact to the Advisory Board, the Board will schedule a Final Hearing.

4.2. Each party has the opportunity to file a written brief, not later than one week before the scheduled start of the Final Hearing. This brief may include any or all of the following matters:

4.2.1. Challenges to rulings of the Hearing Officer or the Advisory Board, except that a ruling of the Hearing Officer during the Evidentiary Hearing can be challenged only if an objection was recorded at the time;

4.2.2. Whether the Hearing Officer's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence;

4.2.3. Whether the faculty member has committed professional misconduct as charged; and

4.2.4. Whether the sanction proposed by the Provost is appropriate.

4.3. At the Final Hearing before the Advisory Board, the parties will be given an opportunity for oral argument, within time guidelines set by the Board.

4.4. As a result of the Final Hearing, the Advisory Board may ask the Hearing Officer to clarify the findings of fact or make additional findings on the basis of the evidence. The Board will give both parties an opportunity to comment on these clarifications or additional findings. The Board may also order the Hearing Officer to reopen the Evidentiary Hearing to hear evidence on specified issues. If necessary, the Board may reopen the Final Hearing.

4.5. Within one week after the Final Hearing before the Advisory Board, either party may file a written reply, which is limited to the issues raised by the opposing brief and the opposing party's oral argument.

5. The Decision of the Advisory Board

5.1. The Advisory Board will affirm those of the Hearing Officer's findings of historical fact that it concludes are supported by substantial evidence, and such findings will thereafter be final and binding upon the President and Board of Trustees.

5.2. A finding of professional misconduct requires that a majority of the members of the Advisory Board concludes that the faculty member has committed professional misconduct in the respect or respects charged.

5.3. If a majority of the Advisory Board concludes that the faculty member has committed professional misconduct, the Board will decide upon the appropriate sanction and will notify the President of its decision.

5.4. If there is no majority of the Advisory Board concluding that the faculty member has committed professional misconduct in the respect or respects charged, the Board will so notify the President.

6. The Decision of the President.

6.1. If the President does not accept the decision of the Advisory Board, he or she will resubmit the case to the Board for reconsideration with a statement of questions or objections. The Board will then reconsider the case in the light of such questions or objections, hold (if necessary) further hearings and receive new evidence, and either render a new decision or state the reasons for its decision to reaffirm its original decision. After study of the Board's reconsidered decision, the President may make a final decision different from that of the Board only if the President determines: that the faculty member or the University was denied a fair hearing; or that the Board's decision (as to whether there has been professional misconduct and/or as to the sanction) was not one which a decision-making body in the position of the Board might reasonably have made.

6.2 If the President makes a final decision different from that of the Advisory Board, the reasons for that different decision shall be given to the Board and the faculty member.

6.3. If the President's decision requires dismissal, such decision is not effective until it has been approved by the Board of Trustees.

7. Rules of General Application.

7.1 The Advisory Board may delegate to a subcommittee of its members any of its functions except deciding if there should be an Evidentiary Hearing, what material issues of historical fact are in dispute, whether the Hearing Officer's findings of historical fact are supported by substantial evidence, whether professional misconduct has occurred, and, if so, what sanctions are appropriate.

7.2. The burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is upon the University in hearings before the Hearing Officer to prove the factual elements of the charge. The faculty member has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence on any affirmative defenses raised by the faculty member.

7.3. The faculty member has the right to have an advisor of his or her choice accompany him or her during the hearings, the rights of confrontation and cross-examination, and the right to refuse to testify in the hearings.

7.4 The faculty member may choose either private or public hearings. Both the Advisory Board and the Hearing Officer, however, may entertain motions (from either party) that all or part of the hearings be held in private.

7.5 Formal rules of evidence do not apply.

7.6 The faculty member may request from the University, in writing, information regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the material issues of historical fact, or which appears reasonably calculated to help the faculty member learn of admissible evidence. The University will provide this information or will inform the Hearing Officer as to its reasons for not providing the information. After consideration of those reasons, the Hearing Officer may order the University to provide such information. The University shall not be required to disclose information prepared for the purpose of litigating the case. Even in the absence of a request by the faculty member, the University must disclose any information it believes to be exculpatory of the faculty member.

7.7 The University may request disclosure of any non-privileged tangible evidence from the faculty member. Upon application by the University describing such evidence, the Hearing Officer may order the faculty member to produce it.

7.8 The proceedings of the Hearing Officer and the Advisory Board will be as expeditious as possible.

7.9 A record will be maintained of all hearings under this Statement.

7.10 Once charges are forwarded to the Advisory Board, both the Provost and the faculty member are to provide copies to each other of all written communications to the Board or the Hearing Officer.

7.11 At the request of the faculty member, and if he or she can demonstrate that his or her own financial resources have been exhausted, the Advisory Board may recommend to the Provost that the University provide funds to pay for what the Board regards as essential for an adequate defense.

7.12 The time guidelines contained in these procedures may be modified by the Hearing Officer or the Advisory Board if warranted by the circumstances. SR