This policy supplements the administrative and academic procedures of Shepherd University and provides a grievance procedure that ensures a just and reasonable process and fair treatment for faculty members. It is expected that the grievance procedure will only be initiated if a dispute cannot be resolved through the normal process of reasoned discussion consistent with the principles of Scripture.
We believe that God is a God of reconciliation who desires that people be reconciled both with God (II Cor. 5:16-21) and with each other (Eph. 2:14-18) in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation. It is within this spirit of peace and reconciliation that we structure the current grievance procedures. We are guided by the biblical principle that reconciliation be sought at the lowest possible level of conflict, involving the fewest number of people.
As used in this policy, a grievance is any material dispute between a faculty member and an administrator that cannot be resolved by the parties. This policy may not be used to grieve any action—such as termination, sexual harassment or other action—covered by another policy containing a due process procedure.
The opportunity for mediation shall be available at any stage of this process in lieu of any further proceedings herein. There shall be two mediators, both experienced and competent in mediation, selected from persons employed by Shepherd University.
The mediators shall not charge for their services. The mediation procedure shall be governed by the code of ethics and standard of practice of the Society for Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR). Legal counsel shall not be admitted to any of the mediation meetings that occur as part of this process of grievance resolution.
If both parties elect mediation, then mediation will proceed for up to a period of 30 days. If agreement is reached within that time, then the hearing process is stayed. If agreement is not reached then the hearing process is resumed.
When a faculty member has a grievance that is not covered in another policy regarding a decision that he or she believes adversely affects his or her academic career at Shepherd University, the faculty member should arrange a meeting with the individual(s) responsible for the decision. At that meeting, the faculty member should bring a written Statement of Grievance, which includes:
1. A description of events leading to the action, which the faculty member is grieving.
2. A description of the grievance.
3. The grounds upon which the faculty member is grieving the action and any applicable policies or procedures, if any.
4. A statement of the remedy sought by the faculty member.
5. Other supporting documents.
The administrator must respond in writing to the faculty member within 21 calendar days. If the matter is not satisfied, then the faculty member may appeal to the dean, submitting the original Statement of Grievance, supporting documents, if any, and the administrator’s written response. The academic dean shall review the appeal within 15 calendar days. If the academic dean determines that the appeal warrants review, it will be referred to the standing Hearing Committee. If the administrator named in the grievance is the academic dean, the faculty member may appeal to the President, who will follow this same procedure.
Review by Standing Hearing Committee
The academic dean shall arrange for the standing Hearing Committee to hold a hearing on the faculty member’s grievance within 30 days of its receipt by the academic dean. The Hearing Committee shall proceed as follows:
1. The Hearing Committee shall consist of five members and two alternates. At the beginning of each academic year, the academic dean shall select, in consultation with the president, four members from the regular faculty and one member from the President’s administrative council who holds faculty rank. The Hearing Committee shall elect the chairperson from its membership by majority vote.
2. The academic dean or his or her designee shall inquire of each of the selected Hearing Committee members whether there is any reason he or she would be unable to hear the case fairly and impartially and render a fair and impartial decision. If any member of the committee cannot serve, then an alternate shall be appointed to serve.
3. If the chairperson cannot impartially serve on a particular hearing, then an alternate should be appointed and the group shall elect a chairperson for the particular hearing.
From this point, the Hearing Committee shall be in charge of all subsequent stages in the hearing process until the Hearing Committee has forwarded its report and recommendations to the president.
The Hearing Committee chairperson shall set a time and place for the hearing and shall notify the other committee members and the faculty member. The chairperson shall be in full charge of the hearing, which shall be conducted according to procedures as established and may include representation. The hearing shall be closed to all except the persons who have the advance approval of the academic dean.
The Hearing Committee chairperson shall conduct the hearing and prepare a final report that shall contain findings of fact and recommendations to the president of the University. The final report shall be submitted to the president within 21 calendar days of the conclusion of the hearing and a copy delivered to the faculty member. Additionally, members of the committee may submit individual reports to the president and send a copy to the faculty member. Upon consideration of the committee’s report(s), the decision concerning the grievance shall be at the sole discretion of the institution as represented by the directors acting through the president, whose decision shall be final.
The Accreditation Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), our accrediting agency, provides procedures for filing of complaints against accredited institutions. ACICS requires that the complainant has exhausted all complaint and grievance procedures provided under the institutional policy before seeking ACICS’ assistance. Should such a complaint be filed, ACICS will review the matter to determine whether there may have been any violation of its criteria and standards, and can take action only if it determines there to have been such a violation. ACICS can be contacted at:
750 First Street, NE, Suite 980, Washington, DC 20002; (202) 336-6780