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Protecting The Rights Of Employees And Injured Parties

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Protecting Your Rights In The Academic Promotion Process

Probationary, tenure-track faculty members at the 11 colleges and universities which make up the North Dakota University System are evaluated each year for renewal of their appointment, and, typically in their sixth year, considered for promotion and tenure. The three major categories in which the faculty member is judged are 1) research and scholarship, including grantsmanship; 2) teaching; and 3) service.

Under State Board of Higher Education policies, a faculty member who is denied renewal of a probationary appointment, or denied promotion and tenure, may appeal that decision to a Standing Committee on Faculty Rights (SCFR). Grounds for appeal include alleged violation of applicable policies or inadequate consideration, or that the decision violates academic freedom, rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, or the faculty member’s employment contract.

After hearing testimony and reviewing exhibits in a hearing, the SCFR issues its recommendation to the college or university president, i.e., that the non-renewal of a probationary appointment, or denial of promotion or tenure, be affirmed or reversed, and the reasoning for that recommendation. The president of the institution makes the final decision. .

Leo Wilking has successfully represented faculty members in multiple SCFR hearings at North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. In two of those hearings, the University provost conceded the validity of the faculy member’s position even before the hearing was concluded.

A SCFR hearing determines whether a faculty member will be allowed to continue work at the institution in question, and in some cases, whether the faculty member has a future in academia. Identifying the critical issues at a SCFR hearing, and marshaling the necessary evidence, requires experience and expertise. Mr. Wilking has that experience and expertise and has proved it repeatedly at North Dakota’s two flagship universities.