The Bylaws of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska (October 1989 Revision) provide to the faculty governing bodies on each campus the authority to establish a professional Conduct Committee (Regents Bylaws, Section 4.15, 1989). The University of Nebraska at Kearney Faculty Senate has adopted these Rules of Procedure, and thereby establishes a method for electing a seven (7) member Professional Conduct Committee.
The policies formulated within this document apply to all professional staff activities at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The term "professional staff" means persons employed at UNK within the definition of professional staff provided in Sections 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 of the Bylaws of the Board of Regents.
The charge to the Professional Conduct Committee is to carry out its functions in an equitable, efficient, and consistent manner in conformity with these Rules of Procedure.
||Committee Membership and Selection
The Professional Conduct Committee shall consist of seven (7) members. The elected Committee members shall be elected in December of each year by at least a plurality of the Faculty Senate from a list of nominees provided by the Faculty Senate Election Committee. All elected faculty shall be tenured and hold the rank of assistant professor or above.
The committee shall be composed of one (1) faculty member from each of the undergraduate colleges, one Faculty Senator elected by the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Senate President-elect, and one non-academic Professional Staff member selected by the Administration.
The Committee members shall be classified with respect to the time for which they shall severally hold office by dividing them into two (2) classes, each consisting, as nearly as may be, of one-half of the whole number of the Committee, and all members shall hold office until their successors are elected and qualified. At the meeting held for the election of the first Committee, the members of the first class shall be elected for a term of one year and the members of the second class shall be elected for a term of two years. At each annual election the successors to the class of members whose terms shall expire in that year shall be elected to hold office for a term of two years, so that the term of office of one class of members shall expire each year. In cases of resignation, the Faculty Senate shall elect a replacement to complete the term of the Committee member who has resigned.
Disqualification of Committee Members
No member of the Committee shall participate in any proceedings of the Committee if he/she is a member of the department of either the Complainant(s) or the Respondent(s), or if he/she would not be capable of impartially considering the evidence and issues before the Committee in the proceedings. In the event that one or more members of the Committee disqualify themselves from participating in a particular set of proceedings, the President of the Faculty Senate shall choose a qualified replacement Committee member.
||Committee Attendance and Quorum Standards (Added, 4-93)
||A Committee member not attending two successive meetings of the Committee, unless non-attendance is the result of disqualification as noted in 1.2 (above), shall be replaced by the President of the Faculty Senate with appropriate professional staff as noted in and consistent with 1.1 (paragraph 2) above.
||All formal Committee decisions shall be reached by a majority vote of the Committee members except that, in the case of recommendations which may become part of a Final Report (4.3.3), five (5) members of the Committee must concur that the preponderance of the evidence supports an allegation in order to sustain any individual charge.
- STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT SUBJECT TO COMMITTEE JURISDICTION
The Committee shall have jurisdiction and authority to investigate complaints charging violations of standards of professional conduct brought against professional staff at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. "Standards of Professional Conduct" shall be those set forth in the Bylaws of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska including, but not limited to, Section 3.4 (Conditions of Employment for the Professional Staff), Section 3.8 (Conflict of Interest), Section 3.9 (Political Activities of Employees), Section 3.10 (Patent Policy), Section 3.11 (Sale of Books and Supplies to Students; Copyrights and Royalties), and Section 4.1 (Academic Responsibility), along with any standards of professional rights and duties as prescribed by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, federal, state, and local laws, and generally accepted professional rights and duties of the academic community. In addition, the following standards are established as standards of professional conduct for all professional staff. A professional staff member:
- Shall not interfere with the exercise of political and citizenship rights and responsibilities of students, colleagues, and the general citizenry;
Shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, marital status, age, national origin, ethnic background, or handicapping condition;
Shall not use coercive means or promise special treatment to students, colleagues, or the general citizenry in order to influence professional decisions;
Shall not make any fraudulent statement or fail to disclose a material fact for which the professional staff member is responsible unless disclosure results in a breach of professional confidentiality;
Shall not exploit professional relationships with students, colleagues, or the general citizenry for personal gain or private advantage;
Shall not sexually harass students or colleagues or other persons with whom the professional staff member comes in contact in his/her professional capacity;
Shall recuse herself/himself from all circumstances in which the professional staff or faculty member bears primary authority and accountability as a mentor, educator, evaluator, or supervisor over any student, faculty, or staff with whom the professional staff member is involved in a consensual romantic or sexual relationship (The policy is set forth in the Professional Conduct Committee - Consensual Relationships Policy);
Shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in the performance of professional duties;
Shall not use institutional staff position or privilege for private gain or to promote political candidates, political issues, or partisan political activities;
Shall not commit any act of moral turpitude nor commit any felony under the laws of the United States, or any state or territory;
Shall not misrepresent his/her professional qualifications nor those of his/her colleagues;
Shall neither accept nor offer gifts or favors that will impair professional judgment;
Shall support established principles of due process;
Shall seek no reprisal against any person who in good faith alleges a violation of this section;
Shall attend with reasonable diligence to the duties of his/her professional position;
Shall conduct professional business through designated procedures, when available, that have been approved and are recognized by the institution and its various entities;
Shall permit no commercial or personal exploitation of his/her professional position.
The Committee also shall have the authority to interpret and apply the foregoing standards, rights, and duties of professional conduct for members of the professional staff.
- PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
Any professional staff member who is accused of professional misconduct under the procedures provided herein shall be presumed innocent by the Committee. The burden of proving professional misconduct shall be upon the Complainant and the accompanying investigation and inquiry, if any.
- RULES OF PROCEDURE
||Initiation of Proceedings
Complaints of professional misconduct may be made by any person and shall be directed to the Academic Rights and Responsibilities Commission through the Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee. Such a complaint must be in writing and shall conform with the Guidelines for Submitting Complaints contained herein at item 7. A formal complaint may be brought to the Committee only after all other internal means of resolution have been exhausted.
If the allegation involves the safety of human or animal subjects or violations of regulations in the use of biohazardous materials, the Committee shall inform the University of Nebraska at Kearney Dean for Graduate Studies as to the nature of the allegations so that he/she can inform the University of Nebraska Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Research Subjects that such allegations have been made. The chairperson of the Committee shall notify the Respondent(s) that such notification has occurred.
The scope of authority of the Committee shall extend only to activities which clearly involve alleged professional misconduct associated with University of Nebraska at Kearney Employment. Meetings of the Committee shall be scheduled when all seven (7) members are able to be present. All proceedings of the Committee shall be kept confidential and every effort shall be made to keep confidential the names of the Complainant(s) and of the Respondent(s), except when reasonable inquiry and investigation require disclosure. Detailed documentation collected during the inquiry shall be securely maintained by the Committee. Such records shall be made available, when federal law so requires, to authorized personnel of the federal government. All meetings of the Committee shall be closed to the public.
||Sufficiency of Complaint and Determination of Jurisdiction-Inquiry
Immediately upon receiving a complaint, the chairperson of the Committee shall provide written notification to the person/s filing the complaints that the allegation has been received, the date on which the complaint(s) was received and a copy of the Professional Conduct Committee Rules of Procedure. The Committee chairperson shall likewise send written notification to the professional staff member(s) named in the allegation specifying the nature of the allegation, when the allegation was received and a copy of the Professional Conduct Committee Rules of Procedure.
The chairperson shall call a meeting of the Committee within seven (7) working days after a written complaint is received. If the use of alternate members is required, the reformed Committee shall meet within seven (7) working days of the first meeting. The written complaint, along with any documentary evidence submitted, shall be considered for the purpose of determining (a) whether or not such proceedings fall within the jurisdiction of the Committee, and (b) whether or not the complaint is sufficient to warrant formal proceedings before the Committee. If the Committee finds that the complaint is insufficient or that the complaint lies outside of its jurisdiction, it will communicate such a finding in writing to the Complainant and Respondent setting forth the reasons for the Committee's finding. If the complaint lies outside the jurisdiction of the Committee, the Committee will, when possible, make a recommendation regarding appropriate alternative means of recourse. If the Complainant disagrees with the Committee's finding, he/she shall have seven (7) working days to resubmit or amend the complaint for reconsideration by the Committee. Upon receipt of the resubmitted or amended complaint, the Committee shall meet to reconsider its original decision. If the Committee affirms its original decision that the complaint is insufficient or that the complaint lies outside of its jurisdiction, such decision shall be final.
||Right of Respondent to File an Answer
The respondent shall have fourteen (14) calendar days in which to file a written Answer to the Complaint with the Chair of the Committee. If the respondent fails to file an answer within the specified time period, the Committee will find in favor of the Complainant by default.. In special circumstances. the Committee may extend the fourteen (14) day period for good and sufficient reasons.
An Answer shall include at a minimum,
- a written statement from the Respondent which responds to and specifically addresses the allegations contained in the complaint;
- pertinent relevant and documented evidence supporting the Respondents position; and:
- a listing of witnesses (if any) who may be called upon by the Respondent
Upon receipt of the Respondent's Answer the Committee shall commence an Inquiry in order to determine whether an allegation or apparent instance of professional misconduct warrants a full and complete investigation. The Inquiry shall be completed within forty-five (45) calendar days from the date of receipt of the Answer unless circumstances clearly warrant a longer time period. If the inquiry takes longer than forty-five (45) calendar days, the report of the inquiry shall include documentation of the reasons for exceeding forty-five (45) calendar days. During the Inquiry period the Committee may request and secure additional information from the Complainant. the Respondent and /or other sources or witnesses which may have information of value to the inquiry process.
At the conclusion of the Inquiry a written report shall be prepared that states what evidence was reviewed, summarizes relevant interviews, and includes the conclusion of the inquiry. The report shall be delivered to the Complainant(s), the Respondent(s), the President of the Faculty Senate, and to the Chancellor, or his/her designee, if the University is required to notify and/or report to any federal regulatory agency.
The Inquiry Report shall contain full explication of the specific standards of professional conduct that are alleged to have been violated, the specific actions alleged which, if substantiated, constitute a violation of those standards, a clear listing of all evidence reviewed by the Committee during the Inquiry and the Committee's preliminary findings. Preliminary findings include but are not limited to (a) dismissal of the Complaint for insufficiency, (b) recommendations for informal resolution of the complaint short of continuation to the full investigative process and/or (c) institution of the full investigative process as enumerated in Section 5 of these Rules.
Should the Committee's preliminary findings result in a decision to dismiss the complaint, the Complainant shall have seven (7) calendar days to ask for reconsideration of the decision to dismiss. The Committee shall respond to such a reconsideration request within seven (7) calendar days of receipt of the request.
Should the Committee's Preliminary Findings result in a recommendation for informal resolution, the Committee will clearly present the alternatives to both the Complainant and the Respondent. Each party shall have seven (7) calendar days to respond to the recommendations. If either party or both parties decline the recommended resolution, the matter will proceed immediately to hearing.
- INVESTIGATION AND HEARING
||Conduct of Hearings
The Committee shall conduct one or more hearings for the purpose of ascertaining the facts relevant to the allegations contained in the Inquiry Report.
A tape-recorded record of the hearing(s) shall be made and the record securely retained by the Committee. At the initial hearing, only the Complainant, the Respondent, and counsel or an advisor for any party shall be present. The Committee may hold further hearings at which the Complainant, Respondent, and relevant witnesses may be present. Witnesses will be present and interviewed one at a time. The Committee chairperson shall preside over the meeting, but all members of the Committee may participate in the questioning of the Complainant(s), Respondent(s), and the witnesses.
The Complainant, the Respondent, and the Committee shall exchange with each other at least four (4) working days prior to the meetings, a list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all of the witnesses each has requested to appear before the Committee. All persons meeting with the Committee will be requested to respond to questions by the Committee and give testimony relevant to the statement of charges. Any person meeting with the Committee may submit a written statement.
During Hearings, the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) may be assisted by counsel or by an advisor of their choice. The role of counsel or advisor during the Hearing shall be limited to counseling their respective clients, and unless the Committee permits, counsel or advisors shall not directly question witnesses or participate in the discussion. The Committee may request that the General Counsel of the University of Nebraska to provide legal counsel to the Committee. The Committee may also request the advice and assistance of appropriate professional consultants (e.g., a psychiatrist, a technical expert, an ethicist, an accountant, experts within a particular discipline). The Committee also may ask other persons who appear to have knowledge of the matter under investigation to meet with the Committee.
Hearings shall be scheduled to insure that both Complainant and Respondent may be present. Absence of the Complainant from a Hearing will result in dismissal of the Complaint. Absence of the Respondent from the Hearing will result in a default judgment for the Complainant.
Complainant and Respondent may directly cross-examine each other under the strict application of rules established by the Committee and enforced by the Chair of the Committee or the hearing officer. The process of cross-examination shall adhere to rigid standards of decorum, civility, and dignity.
Rights to Hearing Information
The tape recorded record of all hearings shall be retained by the Committee. Written transcriptions of hearings shall be made only at the request of one of the two parties in the matter at hand or by the Committee. The requesting party will bear the full cost of transcription. Further. any written transcriptions must be done by a disinterested third party acceptable to the Committee. Copies of any written transcription(s) shall be provided to the Committee, the Complainant and the Respondent.
- FINAL REPORT
||Committee Findings and Final Report
As soon as reasonably possible after conclusion of the Hearing(s), the Committee shall meet and adopt a Final Report. This Committee meeting shall be scheduled such that five (5) of the committee must concur that the preponderance of the evidence supports an allegation in order to sustain any individual charge. The individual vote will be kept confidential. All other committee decisions shall be reached by majority vote of the Committee members. The Final Report of the Committee shall contain at a minimum the following:
||The Inquiry Report which includes the specific standards of professional conduct that are alleged to have been violated and the alleged actions which violated the standards;
||Findings of fact relating to the allegations contained in the Investigation Statement;
||The Committee's conclusions, supported by a preponderance of the evidence, regarding whether the Respondent committed an act or acts of professional misconduct; and
||The Committee's recommendations for action based upon its findings of fact and conclusions.
The Committee shall issue the Final Report within thirty (30) calendar days from the conclusion of the hearings. If the Committee determines, at the end of thirty (30) calendar days, that it cannot complete its investigation and related activities within the thirty (30) calendar day period, it must advise the Faculty Senate President of this determination. The Chancellor shall also be advised of the potential delay if federal regulations require the University to request the Office of Scientific Integrity for an extension of time. If an extension of time is necessary and if the Chancellor is required by federal regulations to submit an interim report to a federal agency, the Committee shall prepare a written report which shall include the Committee's progress to date, an explanation for the delay, and an estimate for the date of completion. The anticipation of an extension of time shall be communicated in writing to the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s).
Recommendations of the Committee may include the following:
||If the allegations are not sustained, the Respondents is exonerated. When appropriate, the Committee may include a plan of action designed to restore the reputation of those under investigation.
||If the allegations are sustained, recommendations may include one or more of the following:
||Censure of the Respondent(s), including a written letter of censure placed in the Respondent's(s') personnel file;
||Restitution or redress of the consequences of the professional misconduct;
||Removal of the Respondent(s) from an administrative position;
||Alteration in the assignment of duties of the Respondent(s);
||Non-reappoiniment of the Respondent(s) at the end of a Specific - Term Appointment; and/or
||Other actions consistent with the intent of and or provided for within the Regents Bylaws.
- WITHDRAWAL OF COMPLAINT
A complaint or allegation may be withdrawn at any time by the person(s) submitting the complaint. If the complaint or allegation is withdrawn at any time the Committee shall take no further action.
- RESIGNATION OF RESPONDENT
If the Respondent resigns or other wise terminates his/her relationship with the University, the Committee shall take no further action.
- TRANSMISSION OF NOTICES
For purposes herein, notices shall be deemed received when they are personally delivered or are deposited in the U.S. Mail with first class postage pre-paid, and properly addressed to the individual's current residential address on file with the University of Nebraska at Kearney's Office of Human Resources or to the University of Nebraska at Kearney office of the individual by way of Campus Mail.
- ROLE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE FACULTY SENATE
The President of the Faculty Senate shall be informed of all actions taken by the Committee including all advice and recommendations given to the Chancellor or other University administrators by the Committee.
- DELIVERY OF THE FINAL REPORT AND DISPOSITION OF RECOMMENDATIONS
The Final Report of the Committee shall be delivered to the University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor, the President of the Faculty Senate, the Complainant(s) and the Respondent(s). The Chancellor or other University officers will be requested to carry out the recommendations' sanctions, if any, in accordance with the Bylaws and Policies of the Board of Regents.
A copy of all filings, Committee documents, and a record of all proceedings and deliberations of the Committee shall be retained and secured by the Committee. The Final Report shall not be made public, except in response to a subpoena or other judicial process. It may, however, be delivered to any federal regulatory agency which by law is entitled to such delivery.
The Chancellor, or his/her designee, shall deliver, within thirty (30) days, a written response to the Final Report to the chairperson of the Committee and the President of the Faculty Senate. The Chancellor's response shall include any action taken or yet to be taken by the Chancellor pursuant to the Committee's recommendations. If the Chancellor fails or refuses to act upon the Committee's recommendations, the written response shall include reasons for such failure or refusal.
- INTERIM ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION
If at any time during the period of inquiry or investigation, the Committee believes that interim administrative actions should be taken to protect the welfare of human or animal subjects of research, prevent inappropriate use of funds, or otherwise protect the interests of the public and the University, the Committee chairperson shall so inform the Chancellor and the President of the Faculty Senate. When warranted, the Chancellor or his/her designee shall notify the Director of the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI) as prescribed in 42 C.F.R. S50.105(a). When there is a reasonable indication of possible criminal offense, the Chancellor shall notify the Office of Scientific Integrity within 24 hours. If the allegation involves the safety of human or animal subjects or violations of regulations in the use of biohazardous materials, the Committee shall inform the Dean of Graduate Studies, the Research Services Council or other appropriate entities that such allegations have been made. The chairperson of the Committee shall notify the Respondent that such notification has occurred.
- Guidelines for Submitting Complaints to the Professional Conduct Committee
||Indicate your name, office address, home address, and telephone numbers.
Name the professional staff member(s) of the University of Nebraska at Kearney against whom the complaint is being lodged. Provide titles, departments, addresses, and telephone numbers (if known).
||Name any other agency, organization, University of Nebraska at Kearney committee, or University of Nebraska at Kearney administrator, if any, to whom you previously submitted this complaint, and explain the current status of your proceedings with any such person or group.
||State your complaint clearly and completely. Explain why you feel there is sufficient reason to lodge the complaint and list the specific action, including the place(s) and date(s) (if known) when the infraction(s) occurred, the names, office and home addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses, and other documents or facts which you think support your allegation(s).
||Sign and date each page of the written complaint.
- Amendment of the Professional Conduct Committee Rules of Procedure
These rules may be amended by motion duly made and seconded at any business meeting of the University of Nebraska at Kearney Faculty Senate. Any such amendment shall become effective upon a successful majority vote of eligible Faculty Senate members at the business meeting next following the motion to amend.
(Adopted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney Faculty Senate, December 5, 1991; revised, January 12, 1995; revised March 15, 2005)