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Human Resources

Human Resources

Policies and Procedures

Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure

Updated 2/28/13

To implement the foregoing policy and to provide for due process in the administration of the tenure system, the Board of Trustees adopted the following regulations on academic freedom and tenure, adapted from the "1972 Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure" of the AAUP.

A. Statement of Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure

Foreword - These regulations are designed to enable Eckerd College to protect academic freedom and tenure and the requirements of academic due process. The principles implicit in these regulations are for the benefit of all who are involved with or are affected by the policies and programs of the institution. A college or university is a marketplace of ideas, and it can not fulfill its purposes of transmitting, evaluating, and extending knowledge if it requires conformity with any orthodoxy of content and method. In the words of the United States Supreme Court, "Teacher and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die."

Statement of Terms of Appointment

a. The terms and conditions of every appointment of the faculty will be stated or confirmed in writing, and a copy of the appointment document will be supplied to the faculty member. Any subsequent extensions or modifications of an appointment, and any special understandings, or any notices incumbent upon either party to provide, will be stated or confirmed in writing and a copy will be given to the faculty member.

b. With the exception of special appointments clearly limited to a brief association with the institution, and reappointments of retired members on special conditions, all full-time appointments to the rank of Instructor or higher are of two kinds: 1) probationary appointments; 2) appointments with continuous tenure. Faculty members who are initially hired for short-term special appointments, if retained beyond a two-year period, must be granted probationary status with their time of service credited toward the probationary period.

c. Except for faculty members who have tenure status, every person with a teaching or research appointment of any kind will be informed each year in writing of his/her appointment and of all matters relative to his/her eligibility for the acquisition of tenure.

2. Probationary Appointments

a. Probationary appointments will be made for one year, subject to renewal. The normal period of probationary service prior to the acquisition of continuous tenure will be seven years. At his discretion, the Dean of Faculty may credit newly-appointed faculty members with up to three years service based upon extensive prior teaching experience at other institutions of higher learning. The period of probation will be stated in writing at the time of initial appointment. Scholarly leave of absence for one year or less will count as part of the probationary period as if it were prior service at another institution, unless the individual and the Institution agree in writing to an exception to this provision at the time the leave is granted.

The faculty member will be advised, at the time of initial appointment, of the substantive standards and procedures generally employed in decisions affecting renewal and tenure. The faculty member will be advised of the time when decisions affecting renewal or tenure are ordinarily made, and will be given a yearly opportunity to submit material which he/she believes will be helpful to an adequate consideration of his/her circumstances.

c. Regardless of the stated term or other provisions of any appointments, written notice that a probationary appointment is not to be renewed will be given to the faculty member in advance of the expiration of his appointment, as follows: 1) not later than March 1 of the first academic year of service if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if a one-year appointment terminates during an academic year, at least three months in advance of its termination; 2) not later than December 15 of the second academic year of service if the appointment expires at the end of that year; or, if an initial two-year appointment terminates during an academic year, at least six months in advance of its termination; 3) at least twelve months before the expiration of an appointment after two or more years of service at the Institution. The Institution will normally notify faculty members of the terms and conditions of their renewals by march 15, but in no case will such information be given later than April 15.

d. A recommendation not to renew a probationary appointment may come from the Collegial Chairperson, the Academic Standards Committee, the President or the Dean of Faculty, but in all cases final determination is made by the President or his designated representative. Where a decision not to renew an appointment has first been reached, the faculty member involved will be informed of that recommendation or decision in writing by the President or Dean of Faculty and, if he/she so requests, he/she will be advised of the reasons which contributed to that decision. The faculty member may request a reconsideration by the recommending body.

e. If the faculty member so requests, the reasons given in explanation of the non-renewal will be confirmed in writing.

Insofar as the faculty member alleges that the decision against renewal was based on inadequate consideration, the Advisory Committee on Dismissals will review the faculty member's allegation to determine whether the decision was the result of adequate consideration in terms of the relevant standards of the Institution. The Advisory Committee on Dismissals will have three members each selected for a term of three years on a rotating basis. The members of this committee should be faculty members elected by the faculty on the basis of their objectivity and competence and the high regard in which they are held in the academic community. They should not be Collegial Chairpersons. The Advisory Committee will not substitute its judgement on the merits for that of the President or Dean of Faculty. If the Advisory Committee believes that adequate consideration was not given to the faculty member's qualifications, it will request reconsideration by the President or Dean of Faculty indicating the respects in which it believes the consideration may have been inadequate. It will provide copies of its findings to the faculty member, the Academic Standards Committee, the President, and the Dean of Faculty.

3. Termination of Appointment by the Faculty Member

A faculty member may terminate his/her appointment effective at the end of an academic year, provided that he/she gives notice in writing at the earliest possible opportunity, but not later than April 15, or 30 days after receiving notification of the terms of his/her appointment for the coming year, whichever date occurs later. The faculty member may properly request a waiver of this requirement of notice in case of hardship or in a situation where he/she would otherwise be denied substantial professional advancement or other opportunity.

4. Termination of Appointment by the Institution

a. Termination of an appointment with continuous tenure, or of a special or probationary appointment before the end of the specified term, may be affected by the Institution only for adequate cause, namely moral turpitude or continuing failure to carry out the standards set forth in the criteria for awarding academic tenure.

If termination takes the form of a dismissal, it will be pursuant to the procedure specified in Regulation 5.

c. Where termination of an appointment with continuous tenure, or of a non-tenured appointment before the end of the specified term, is based upon bona fide financial exigency or discontinuance of a program or department of instruction, Regulation 5 will not apply, but faculty members shall be able to have the issues reviewed by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees in consultation with a faculty committee elected for that purpose. Administrative claims of financial exigency or proposals for the elimination of programs of study which will result in termination of faculty members, must be brought to the faculty as a whole for discussion and counsel. It is the obligation of the faculty to make recommendations to the President and Dean of Faculty for dealing with the problems in a fair and humane manner. In every case of financial exigency or discontinuance of a program or department of instruction, the faculty member concerned will be given notice or severance salary not less than as prescribed in Regulation 8. Before terminating an appointment because of the abandonment of a program or department of instruction, the Institution will make every effort to place affected faculty members in other suitable positions. Within affected programs of study, the service of a tenured professor should not ordinarily be terminated in favor of retaining a faculty member without tenure. Whenever termination of professors, by reason of financial exigency or program reduction, is to be considered, the Dean of Faculty should ask the Academic Standards Committee to make a full review of the professional capabilities of any professor prospectively affected by the program decision and submit a written recommendation on the subject of termination to the Dean of Faculty. If an appointment is terminated before the end of the period of appointment, because of financial exigency, or because of the discontinuance of a program of instruction, the released faculty member's place will not be filled by a replacement within a period of two years, unless the released faculty member has been offered reappointment and a reasonable time within which to accept or decline it.

d. Termination of a tenured appointment , or of a non-tenured or special appointment before the end of the period of appointment, for medical reasons, will be based upon clear and convincing medical evidence. The decision to terminate will be reached only after there has been appropriate consultation and the faculty member or his/her representative has been informed of the basis of the proposed action, and has been afforded an opportunity to present his/her position and to respond to the evidence. If the faculty member so requests, the evidence will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Dismissals before a final decision is made by the Board of Trustees on the recommendation of the President of the Institution.

5. Dismissal Procedures

a. Adequate cause for a dismissal will be related, directly and substantially, to the fitness of the faculty member in his/her professional capacity as a teacher or researcher. Dismissal will not be used to restrain faculty members in their exercise of academic freedom or other rights of American citizens.

Recommendation for dismissal of a faculty member with continuous tenure, or with a special or probationary appointment may originate from the Academic Standards Committee or from the President or the Dean of Faculty, but in all cases the final determination to initiate dismissal proceedings rests with the President or his designated representative. Normally a recommendation to dismiss a tenured faculty member will be preceded by two written warnings detailing the perceived deficiencies, and ample opportunity will be given for the faculty member to take corrective action. In instances where no previous warnings have been given, dismissal will be preceded by: 1) discussions between the faculty member and appropriate administrative officers looking toward a mutual settlement; 2) informal inquiry by the Advisory Committee on Dismissals which may, failing to affect an adjustment, determine whether in its opinion dismissal proceedings should be undertaken, without its opinion being binding upon the President; 3) a statement of charges, framed with reasonable particularity by the President or the President's representative.

c. A dismissal, as defined in Regulation 5.a., will be preceded by a statement of reasons, and the individual concerned will have the right to have the dismissal decision reviewed initially by the Hearing Committee on Dismissals. The Hearing Committee on Dismissals will consist of five members of the faculty, each elected for a three-year term on a rotating basis. The members of this Committee should be faculty members elected by the faculty on the basis of their objectivity and competence and the high regard in which they are held in the academic community. They should not be collegial chairpersons. The Committee elects its own chairperson. Members deeming themselves disqualified for bias or interest shall remove themselves from the case, either at the request of a party or on their own initiative. Each party will have a maximum of two challenges without stated cause.

Pending a final recommendation by the Hearing Committee, the faculty member will be suspended, or assigned to other duties in lieu of suspension, only if immediate harm to himself/herself or others is threatened by his/her continuance. Before suspending a faculty member, pending an ultimate determination of his/her status through the institution's hearing procedures, the administration will consult with the Academic Standards Committee concerning the propriety, the length and the other conditions of the suspension. A suspension which is intended to be final is a dismissal, and will be treated as such. Salary will continue during the period of the suspension.

2) The Hearing Committee may, with the consent of the parties concerned, hold joint pre-hearing meetings with the parties in order to (i) simplify the issues, (ii) effect stipulations of facts, (iii) provide for the exchange od documentary or other information and, (iv) achieve such other appropriate pre-hearing objectives as will make the hearing fair, effective, and expeditious.

3) Service of notice of hearing with specific charges in writing will be made at least seven days (excluding vacation periods) prior to the hearing. The faculty member may waive a hearing or may respond to the charges in writing at any time before the hearing. If the faculty member waives a hearing, but denies the charges against him/her or asserts that the charges do not support a finding of adequate cause, the Hearing Committee will evaluate all available evidence and rest its recommendation upon the evidence in the record.

4) The Committee, in consultation with the President and the faculty member, will exercise its judgement as to whether the hearing should be public or private.

5) During the proceedings the faculty member will be permitted to have an academic advisor and counsel from within the Eckerd College community of his/her own choice.

A verbatim record of the hearing or hearings will be taken and a typewritten copy will be made available to the faculty member without cost, at the faculty member's request.

7) The burden of proof that adequate cause exists rests with the Institution and shall be satisfied only by clear and convincing evidence in the record considered as a whole.

8) The Hearing Committee will grant adjournments to enable either party to investigate evidence as to which a valid claim of surprise is made.

9) The faculty member will be afforded an opportunity to obtain necessary witnesses and documentary or other evidence. The Administration will cooperate with the Hearing Committee in securing witnesses and making

10) The faculty member and the administration will have the right to confront and cross-examine all witnesses. Where the witnesses can not or will not appear, but the Committee determines that the interests of justice require admission of their statements, the Committee will identify the witnesses, disclose their statements, and, if possible, provide for interrogatories.

11) In the hearing of charges of incompetence or severe neglect of duties, the testimony may include that of qualified faculty members from this or other institutions of higher education.

12) The Hearing Committee will not be bound by strict rules of legal evidence, and may admit any evidence which is of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every possible effort will be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available.

13) The findings of fact and the recommendation will be based solely on the hearing record.

14) Except for such simple announcements as may be required, covering the time of the hearing and similar matters, public statements and publicity about the case by either the faculty member or administrative officers will be avoided so far as possible until the proceedings have been completed, including consideration by the Board of Trustees. The President and the faculty member will be notified of the recommendation in writing and will be given a copy of the record of the hearing.

15) If the Hearing Committee concludes that adequate cause for dismissal has not been established by the evidence in the record, it will so report to the President. If the President rejects the report, he will state his reasons for doing so, in writing, to the Hearing Committee and to the faculty member, and provide an opportunity for response before transmitting the case to the Board of Trustees. If the Hearing Committee concludes that adequate cause for a dismissal has been established, but that an academic penalty less than dismissal would be more appropriate, it will so recommend, with supporting reasons.

6. Action by the Board of Trustees

If dismissal is recommended, the President will, upon request of the affected faculty member, ask the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees to review the record of the case. The Executive Committee will receive the full record of the committee hearing and will provide opportunity for argument, oral or written or both, by the principals at the hearing or by their representatives. The decision of the Hearing Committee will either be sustained, or the proceedings returned to the committee with specific objections. The Committee will then reconsider, taking into account the stated objections and receiving new evidence if necessary. The Executive Committee of the Board then will receive and study a final report from the Hearing Committee and may either decide the matter or remand it for decision to the President.

Procedures for Imposition of Sanctions Other Than Dismissals

a. If the Academic Standards Committee or the administration believes that the conduct of a faculty member, although not constituting adequate cause for dismissal, is sufficiently grave to justify imposition of a severe sanction, such as suspension from service for a stated period, the administration may institute a proceeding to impose such a severe sanction; the procedures outlined in Regulation 5 shall govern such a proceeding.

b. If the Academic Standards Committee or the administration believes that the conduct of a faculty member justifies imposition of a minor sanction, such as a reprimand, it shall notify the faculty member of the basis of the proposed sanction and provide him/her with an opportunity to persuade the administration that the proposed sanction should not be imposed. A faculty member who believes that a major sanction has been incorrectly imposed under this paragraph, or that a minor sanction has been unjustly imposed, may, pursuant to Regulation 14, petition the Advisory Committee on Dismissals for such action as may be appropriate.

8. Terminal Salary or Notice

If an appointment is terminated for bona fide reasons other than moral turpitude, adequate notice shall be given that the terminated party is not to be continued the following year.

Adequate notice is defined as follows: 1) by March 1 in the first year of probationary service; 2) by December 15 in the second year of probationary service; 3) by August 31 for faculty members beginning a third year of probationary service or for faculty members on tenure. If, as a result of extraordinary conditions of financial exigency, adequate notice as defined above is not given, the College shall make every effort to continue the employment through the following academic year. Where this is not financially feasible, the dismissed party is entitled to salary payments up through twelve months from the actual date of notification but for no longer than the required notification period. In the terminal period from the beginning of the next academic year up to the anniversary date of notification, the dismissed party is entitled to the pro-rata portion of his/her academic year salary plus all contractual fringe benefits (TIAA, CREF,insurance, etc.) as described in the contract and the Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual. The termination compensation is due him/her regardless of whether he/she is able to find employment elsewhere before the anniversary of the date of notification.

9. Academic Freedom

All members of the faculty, whether tenured or not, are entitled to academic freedom as set forth in the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, formulated by the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors.

Reappointment of Non-tenured Faculty

If a faculty member on probationary or other non-tenured appointment alleges that a decision not to reappoint him/her was based significantly on considerations violative of (1) academic freedom or (2) governing policies on making appointments without prejudice with respect to race, sex, religion, or natural origin, the allegation will be given preliminary consideration by the Advisory Committee on Dismissals, which will seek to settle the matter by informal methods. The allegation shall be accompanied by a statement that the faculty member agrees to the presentation, for the consideration of the faculty Committee, of such reasons and evidence as the Institution may allege in support of its decision. If the difficulty is unresolved at this stage, and if the Committee so recommends, the matter will be heard in the manner set forth in Regulations 5 and 6, except that the faculty member making the complaint is responsible for stating the grounds upon which he/she bases his/her allegations, and the burden of proof shall rest upon him/her. If the faculty member succeeds in establishing a prima facie case, it is incumbent upon those who made the decision not to reappoint him/her to come forward with evidence in support of their decision.

11. Political Activities of Faculty Members

Faculty members, as citizens, are free to engage in political activities. Where necessary, leaves of absence may be given for the duration of an election campaign or a term of office, on timely application, and for a reasonable amount of time. The terms of such leave of absence shall be set forth in writing, and the leave will not affect unfavorably the tenure status of a faculty member, except that the time spent on such a leave will not count as probationary service unless otherwise agreed to.

12. Other Academic Staff

a. In no case will a member of the academic staff who is not otherwise protected by the preceding regulations which relate to dismissal proceedings be dismissed without having been provided with a statement of reasons and an opportunity to be heard before a duly constituted committee. (A dismissal is a termination before the end of the period of appointment.)

With respect to the non-reappointment of a member of such academic staff who establishes a prima facie case to the satisfaction of a duly constituted committee that a consideration violative of academic freedom significantly contributed to the non-reappointment, he/she will be given a statement of reasons by those responsible for the non-reappointment and an opportunity to be heard by the committee.

13. Grievance Procedure

If any faculty member feels that he/she has cause for grievance in any matter not covered by the policy and procedures described in the foregoing Regulations, he/she may petition the Advisory Committee on Dismissals for redress. The petition shall set forth in detail the nature of the grievance and shall state against whom the grievance is directed. It shall contain any factual or other data which the petitioner deems pertinent to his/her case. The Committee will have the right to decide whether or not the facts merit a detailed investigation. Submission of a petition will not automatically entail investigation or detailed consideration thereof. The Committee may seek to bring about a settlement of the issue satisfactory to the parties. If in the opinion of the Committee such a settlement is not possible or is not appropriate, the Committee will report its findings and recommendations to the petitioner and to the appropriate administrative officer and faculty body, and the petitioner will, at his/her request, be provided an opportunity to present his/her case to them.