Appendix G



Annual Report for 2016-2017


University policy HR-76 “Faculty Rights and Responsibilities” establishes the Senate Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities and defines the committee’s scope and operation. The committee may review petitions from a faculty member who asserts that he or she has suffered a substantial injustice resulting from a violation of academic freedom, procedural fairness, or professional ethics.

The 2016-2017 committee received twelve petitions from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017; twice as many as in the previous year.  Over the last five years, the committee has examined between seven and nine petitions per year. One petition was carried over to the committee from the previous year bringing the total to 13 cases.

Petitioners may claim any or all of the three categories of complaints in their petition. Three complaints claimed violation of academic freedom, seven included complaints of professional ethics, and twelve claimed violations of procedural fairness. Of the twelve petitions that were received by June 30, 2017 the 2016-2017 committee completed eight. Four petitions, received at the end of the committee year were carried over to the 2017-2018 committee.

According to HR-76, in the event that claims of bias or discrimination are a component of the case, the petitions are sent to the Office of Affirmative Action for a parallel review. Four petitions were sent to Affirmative Action for parallel review.

Of the nine cases that were examined, the committee found that the problems identified in three of the cases fell outside of the scope of the committee as established in HR-76 and were not investigated further.

The committee voted to conduct informal investigations for the other six cases. The topics of the petitions varied widely. One petition was based on denial of tenure. The other cases related to workplace climate, grade adjudication, renewal of contracts, authorship, and executive search processes.

The chair wishes to thank the members of the 2016-2017 committee, each of whom devoted significant time and thoughtful consideration to each petition. The committee members express our appreciation to all ombudspersons across the University for their contributions toward resolving conflicts and disputes at their colleges and campuses. We would especially like to thank the University Ombudsperson Pamela Hufnagel who has worked to improve processes, ensure compliance with policies and training and supported the unit ombudspersons in their work.

Additionally, the committee acknowledges the efforts of Blannie Bowen, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, who retired this year. Throughout his tenure at Penn State he worked to improve awareness of the policies and procedures related to faculty including promotion and tenure, annual review and mentoring. These combined endeavors provided thoughtful and responsive support for faculty members and administrators and helped to resolve disputes before they resulted in petitions submitted to this committee.


Changes occurred in membership throughout the 2016-2017 term of the committee. The list below includes all members who served all or part of the term.

  • Larry Catá Backer
  • Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry
  • Dawn G. Blasko, Chair
  • Marie Hardin
  • Jonna M. Kulikowich
  • Timothy Lawlor
  • Linda R. Musser
  • Richard Robinett
  • Paula Milone-Nuzzo