September 12, 2006, Volume 53, No. 3
Grievance Commission Annual Report
The Grievance Commission of the University of Pennsylvania is an independent committee consisting of three faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. The Grievance Commission is available to the Penn faculty and academic support staff to handle alleged actions against them that are not in compliance with University procedures, policies, and regulations. In AY 2005-2006, the commission was composed of Steven Sondheimer (SoM, Past Chair), Haim H. Bau (SEAS, chair), and Jennifer Martin (Nursing, Chair Elect).
In AY 2005-2006, the commission was approached by five members of the faculty. The issues raised were: the termination of a non-tenured faculty member’s appointment, the denial of non-mandatory tenure, a dispute with the college housing system, a denial of laboratory space, and mistreatment resulting from whistle blowing.
In each case, the commission advised the grieving faculty member that the grievance procedure (www.upenn.edu/assoc-provost/handbook/ii_e_12.html) requires the complainant first to send a letter to his/her dean explaining the nature of the complaint and the remedy sought, and requesting the reasons for the actions that are the subject of the complaint. If the faculty member does not receive a satisfactory resolution of the complaint in the time allotted in the grievance procedure, the faculty member can file a grievance with the Grievance Commission.
In two of the five cases, formal grievance complaints were filed. Subsequent to a grievance filing, the commission attempts to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for the grievance and when appropriate, the commission attempts to mediate among the concerned parties.
In one case, a faculty member was threatened with removal of research space due to a lack of research funding. Although the commission felt strongly that the case could have been handled in a more collegial manner than it was, the commission did not find a violation of university procedures. According to university procedures, the department chair and the dean have the authority to allocate research space commensurate with funded research efforts. Therefore, the commission declined to pursue this grievance.
In the second case, a faculty member alleged being mistreated in retaliation for identifying and reporting misconduct in research. The commission is in the process of gathering documentation to help it determine how to proceed with the case.
In AY 2006-2007, the commission will be composed of Haim H. Bau (SEAS, Past Chair), Jennifer Martin (Nursing, Chair), and Joan Goodman (GSE, Chair Elect).
—Haim H. Bau
Grievance Commission Chair, 2005-2006