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The University Faculty Senate believes that Tufts can thrive only if its faculty have sufficient professional and financial security to be able to do their best work. This can be the case only if faculty are protected from abrupt and substantial changes to their conditions of employment; if there are procedures for review of any such actions; and if there is transparency regarding expectations and processes for evaluation.

Therefore, in keeping with its Bylaw responsibilities for:
• Contributing to the formulation of University-wide plans and policies;
• Reviewing existing and proposed University-wide policies and recommending appropriate changes; and
• Expressing and communicating the views, needs, and concerns of the University Faculty with respect to University governance, academic matters, and administrative practices, while respecting the autonomy of the individual Schools;
the Senate recommends that the principles and policies below be adopted as University-wide baseline standards of faculty employment.

1. All full-time faculty who have at least 3 years service, and part-time faculty who have at least 5-years service, with the University, shall be given at least 12 months notice, prior to termination of their employment (for non-tenured faculty), or substantial modification of their positions, and shall be entitled to be informed in writing of the reason for the action.
 a. “Substantial modification” includes:
  i. Reduction of hours and/or compensation by more than 10%;
  ii. Reallocation of more than 20% of responsibilities.
  iii. Increased expectations for acquisition of external financial support.
  iv. Reductions in resources (e.g. lab space, equipment, administrative or technical support) beyond those applied to other faculty in the unit.
 b. Exceptions may be made for dismissal for cause due to specific and severe malfeasance, non-performance or violation of contract.

2. When the modifications are attributed to specific shortcomings of the individual faculty member’s performance, they shall have the opportunity to have the circumstances reviewed by the School’s Grievance Panel or equivalent faculty body. The report of the panel shall be provided to the affected faculty member, the School Dean, the Provost, and, with the faculty member’s consent and with identifying details redacted, to the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Senate.

3. In cases in which a faculty member is expected, as a condition of their appointment, to bring in external funding (e.g. research grants or clinical income), that expectation shall be detailed, either explicitly or by reference to a Faculty Handbook or other document, in the member’s contract or letter of hire. The contract or letter of hire shall also describe, explicitly or by reference, contingencies in the event that the expectation is not met. Those contingencies shall include a reasonable grace period; bridging support for both salary and the revenue-generating activities; and, where possible, options for transitioning to other responsibilities.

4. Evaluations of faculty performance, whether for salary, contract renewal, promotion, or tenure, shall appropriately recognize all relevant contributions to the school. These may include: teaching and mentoring; research and scholarship; artistic accomplishment; clinical work; efforts in support of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice; civic engagement; service and citizenship; and other categories as appropriate to the school and faculty position in question.

5. The faculty share an interest in the effective functioning and long-term financial health of the University, and understand that financial emergencies may require changes in faculty employment conditions on a more rapid time scale than envisioned in these principles. In the event of such an emergency in any school, the dean should consult with the appropriate representative faculty body of the school regarding solutions, and report the nature of the emergency and intended actions to the Faculty Senate, prior to taking any of the actions covered in point #1.

The Senate recognizes that, in some cases, faculty bylaws, collective bargaining agreements, or unique circumstances specific to a particular school or individual may require modification of these principles. Modifications at the school level should be the product of a transparent and inclusive process involving meaningful faculty participation within that school. Modifications at the individual level should be freely accepted by that individual, with full awareness of the substantive and procedural protections that would otherwise apply.

June 2, 2021


Faculty Affairs Subcommittee 

History of Proposed Principles Relating to Faculty Employment 

In 2018 the Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC) was charged with examining the meaning of tenure. This charge grew out of changes at the Medical School in how faculty, including tenured faculty, are supported and compensated. The central issue was changes to terms of tenured faculty. While procedures regarding the granting of tenure are controlled by individual schools, tenure itself is granted by the Trustees and governed by the University-wide “Policy on Academic Freedom, Tenure and Retirement” adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2014. This document, however, contains few specifics and few substantive protections for tenured faculty. Over the course of two years, the FAC gathered information and input from multiple constituencies as it worked towards a more detailed statement of the meaning of tenure at Tufts. 

Events at the Dental School in Summer 2020, along with concerns expressed by faculty from other schools where tenure is rare or non-existent, led the FAC to broaden the scope of its efforts to include conditions of employment for all faculty, not only those within the tenure stream. In keeping with the Faculty Senate’s interpretation of its responsibilities, the FAC chose to work towards a meaningful statement of principles to be adopted by the full Senate. These principles can serve to inform the administration of the Faculty Senate’s perspective on the importance of faculty protections. 

The Committee gathered and discussed information, and examples of contractual language, from multiple schools within the University, and received feedback on preliminary versions of the proposal from the full Senate, Vice Provost Dunn, and the Provost’s Council. While they did not raise concerns with any specific provisions, several school deans expressed concern that the proposal is too specific and detailed, and impinges on the autonomy of schools. The Committee believes, however, that the standards expressed in the proposal are eminently reasonable, and that this level of detail is necessary for the protection of faculty from arbitrary actions. In partial response to the deans’ concerns, the proposal includes language recognizing the need for flexibility in specific situations. 

Faculty Affairs Committee, AY 20-21 

Olympia Karacosta, TUSDM, Co-Chair 

Roger Tobin, A&S, Co-Chair 

Tom Dannenbaum, Fletcher 

Matthan Nirupa, Friedman 

Dominique Penninck, Cummings 

Ellen Pinderhughes, A&S 

Mary Jane Shultz, A&S