Institutional Integrity: Investigating Faculty Misconduct

Over the past several years, there has been growing concern about discrepancies between processes followed in investigations of sexual misconduct and research misconduct by faculty, and the process specified by faculty rule 3335-5-04. In addition, there are some inconsistencies between the faculty rule, and policies for both sexual misconduct and research misconduct. To better align these processes, the senate this year will take up this issue in the interest of finding the best procedure to address instances of faculty misconduct.

Background

Last fall, the Senate Steering Committee charged an ad hoc committee to develop a proposal for resolving sexual misconduct allegations against faculty. In their report, released at the end of spring semester 2018, the committee recommended that (1) sexual misconduct be elevated to a separate category of misconduct, as is the case, for example, of research misconduct and financial fraud, and (2) that investigations of sexual misconduct be handled by a university-level committee that replaces the individual college committees that are currently being used, as specified by faculty rule.

During the summer of 2018, another committee has been working on a new policy for research misconduct. The members of this committee come from senate committee chairs, the office of research, the office of legal affairs, the faculty ombudsman and the office of compliance and integrity. This committee is likely to recommend that research misconduct be investigated by a specially-trained, university-level panel. For faculty, this would be different than the college-based investigation committees currently specified by faculty rule.

What's Next

In light of the parallel and similar recommendations coming from these two committees with respect to investigations of faculty misconduct, the steering committee this fall will take up the process of implementing the committee recommendations with the goal of establishing the best possible process for these types of investigation. As is described in the ad hoc committee report, such a move to take investigations out of individual colleges and into university-level faculty panels would ensure that investigations are rigorous, confidential, conducted by experienced and trained tenured faculty selected by the executive committee of faculty council, and apply the same standard for faculty sanctions as is currently applied in faculty rule 3335-5-04.

Discussions among faculty leaders over the summer has led to the idea that such university-level investigations could be conducted by faculty that will not only investigate and adjudicate instances of misconduct but will take lessons learned from these incidents to communicate back to the university community information that can be the basis for practices and policies that will help to create an environment of civility and respect with the goal of reducing the number of incidents of misconduct, and thereby strengthen the integrity of the university.