The University Faculty Senate Committee on
Faculty Rights and Responsibilities


Name of Petitioner: ____________________________________    Date: ______________

Department: ___________________  College: __________________  Campus: _________

Position: _______________________________________    Phone: __________________

Mailing address: ___________________________________________________________

Grounds for Complaint Petition Related to Violation of (See Notes 1 and 2 on the back of this sheet):

_____Academic Freedom            _____Professional Ethics            _____Procedural Fairness

_____Other (Please state clearly): _____________________________________________

Party(ies) Complained Against: ________________________________________________

Channels Used Prior to this Petition (See Notes 3 and 4 on the back of this sheet):

Administrative channels:




Complaint (Summarize briefly and attach a more detailed explanation as necessary):


Remedy Sought (Summarize briefly and attach a more detailed explanation as necessary):


Signature: _______________________________________

Send completed form to the Senate Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, 101 Kern Graduate Building, University Park, PA 16802.  
SO: Revised 12/02                           

Submission of Petitions: Petitions for review must be submitted in writing to the chairman of the committee through the University Faculty Senate Office, 101 Kern Graduate Building.  Petitions should be specific and should indicate what university channels were previously used for resolution of the problem.  Petitioners must agree to be bound by the procedures described in HR-76, the document defining the Senate Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities; violation of these procedures may be grounds for termination of the review of the petition.  Copies of HR-76 are available at:, from the University Faculty Senate Office, and most administrative offices.


Notes from HR-76

1.    Scope of issues appropriate for review by the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities:


A.   In these procedures the term "faculty member" refers to members of the University faculty as defined in the University Faculty Senate Constitution (Article II, Section 1) plus any other University employees in academic positions which lead to permanent tenure.


B.   The Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities established by these procedures may review petitions from faculty members and administrators involving:


1.  Any situation in which a faculty members asserts that he or she has suffered a substantial injustice resulting from a violation of academic freedom, professional ethics or procedural fairness.


2.  Any situation in which an administrator seeks a Committee judgment as to appropriate action toward a faculty member who, in the administrator's judgment, may be failing to meet his or her responsibilities.


C.   The Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities will normally consider only petitions which involve, as a direct party, faculty members as defined above.  Exceptions to this restrictions apply to University academic employees (a University academic employee is a person whose duties include instructional, research or creative responsibilities)* as follows:


       1.    Dismissal.  Any University academic employee may make use of these procedures upon receipt of notice of dismissal.  A dismissal is a termination before the end of the period of appointment.


2.    Nonreappointment.  Any University academic employee who can demonstrate that considerations violative of academic freedom significantly contributed to a decision of nonreappointment may make use of these procedures.


3.    Other matters.  The Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities may, as it deems appropriate, review petitions of any University academic employee in matters beyond the above limitations, but formal hearings will not be held except in rare cases where there are compelling reasons for them.


D.   Cases of substantive dispute involving the termination of tenured appointment for cause or for reasons of financial exigency or program elimination or revision, or the release of a faculty member during the provisional appointment period with less advance notice than specified in University policy, shall be considered at a hearing by the Standing Joint Committee on Tenure described in Section IV.10 of the University's Promotion and Tenure Procedures and Regulations -- HR-23.  (Also see Article III, Section 2 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.)


2.    Issues for Review: Limitations

 Section B under Scope defines the kinds of issues which the Committee may review.  The Committee shall not consider the substantive academic judgment aspects of such matters as promotion, tenure, compensation, and evaluation of performance.  In such matters as these, only procedural fairness may be reviewed.  The Committee may not review petitions which are being or have been processed in the courts or through affirmative action.


Section C.3. under Scope describes other matters that may come under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities.  These other matters shall not be defined so as to include cases which are being or have been processed in court or through affirmative action.


3.    Conciliation: Colleges and campuses should have a person or group to serve in the role of "ombudsperson".  The objective would be to enhance communication and clarify possible misunderstandings in situations which involve potential disputes, to advise faculty members and administrators as to appropriate courses of action, and to help settle matters before they become hardened into serious disputes.

4.    Upon receiving a petition, the Committee will make a preliminary determination as to the extent of its review of the  matter.  The Committee will reserve the right not to take up a complaint that it judges unsubstantial or without merit or where it appears that other remedies should be sought before coming to the Committee.


The preliminary determination referred to must include a Committee judgment that the appropriate department, college and/or other unit administrative procedures have been exhausted prior to the point the Committee decides whether or not to review the petition further.  In making such a judgment, the Committee shall consult with the ombudsperson in the appropriate college or campus.


*This definition excludes graduate assistants.