Chapter 2: Employment Policies and Resources for All Faculty
(As appropriate, throughout this chapter, the term department head is inclusive of school director.)
Faculty employment and policies are under the purview of the Board of Visitors.
The Board of Visitors holds the authority to approve all faculty appointments. This authority has been delegated to university officials for certain types of new appointments, generally including non-tenure positions and restricted appointments.
Final approval by the Board of Visitors is required for new appointments of instructional and research faculty members on the tenure-track or continued appointment-track, including those appointed with tenure or continued appointment; faculty ranked athletic personnel; senior administrators (such as deans and vice presidents) and their direct reports; and administrative and professional faculty members reporting directly to the president and their direct reports.
The Board of Visitors annually approves a faculty compensation plan, which is prepared using parameters provided by the commonwealth’s secretary of education in the Consolidated Salary Authorization for Faculty Positions in Institutions of Higher Education. In accordance with the Consolidated Salary Authorization, the faculty compensation plan provides information about the promotion and tenure process; the annual evaluation and salary adjustment process for teaching and research (T&R) faculty, administrative and professional (A/P) faculty, and research faculty; salary adjustments within the evaluation period, and the pay structure.
All faculty are required to report annually on their research and scholarship, creative works, teaching, extension, outreach, and service activities, as applicable. Guidance on annual faculty reports is provided by department, college, or administrative unit, as appropriate.
The general faculty is composed of those faculty members outside the classified and university staff personnel system who are appointed to carry out the learning, discovery, and engagement programs of the university; carry out general university administration; or provide academic support to those programs.
Appointments to the general faculty may be made for which there is no presumption or consideration of renewal. Such appointments are called “restricted” and should be so designated.
The General Faculty is comprised of five categories for the purposes of applying faculty policies especially those related to promotion and tenure or continued appointment.
- College Faculty: tenure-track and tenured faculty, instructional faculty not on the tenure track
- University Libraries Faculty
- Extension Faculty
- Administrative and Professional (A/P) Faculty
- Research Faculty
The college faculties are composed of tenured and tenure-track faculty (sometimes referred to as Teaching and Research or T&R faculty) and instructional faculty not on the tenure track, with full- or part-time positions in academic departments or schools in the colleges. (Subsequent references to departments or schools within a college are subsumed in this handbook under the word “department.”)
Members of the college faculty who relinquish full-time responsibilities in a college department to assume responsibilities elsewhere at the university may choose to continue to have their professional development evaluated by that department and college. The same is true for someone who accepts a position in the University Libraries faculty, Extension faculty, or in the administrative and professional faculty. The evaluation for promotion in rank or the awarding of tenure is done according to the criteria and procedures of promotion and tenure for college faculty. Tenure already granted need not be relinquished. Annual evaluation for merit salary adjustment is based on the responsibilities of the current position.
Ranks: assistant, associate, professor
Tenured and tenure-track faculty typically require a terminal degree and are labeled Teaching and Research (T&R) and are appointed to regular positions. Employment policies and procedures for tenured and tenure-track faculty are in chapter three of this handbook. Research and Extension faculty are also T&R faculty, although their duties may have a relatively small instructional component.
College faculty may also be instructional faculty not on the tenure track appointed to regular or restricted positions. Employment policies and procedures for faculty not on the tenure track are described in chapter five of this handbook.
instructor, advanced instructor, senior instructor
Visiting or Adjunct Professor
assistant, associate, professor
Professor of Practice
assistant, associate, professor
clinical instructor, clinical assistant, clinical associate, clinical professor
collegiate assistant professor, collegiate associate professor, collegiate professor
administrative and professional faculty
Ranks: assistant, associate, and professor
Employment policies and procedures for University Libraries faculty with continued appointment or on the continued appointment-track are in chapter four of this handbook. University Libraries faculty may or may not hold appointment in a college. They perform a unique and indispensable function in the educational process and share many of the professional concerns of their college colleagues. The university recognizes the need to protect the academic freedom of librarians in their responsibility to ensure the availability of information and ideas, no matter how controversial, so that teachers may freely teach and students may freely learn.
The rank held by a University Libraries faculty member does not imply a particular rank in any college department. University Libraries faculty may hold concurrent adjunct status in a college department to formally recognize their contributions to the undergraduate or graduate program. Guidelines for University Libraries faculty can be found on the libraries website.
assistant, associate, professor
associate extension agent, extension agent, senior extension agent
associate extension specialist, extension specialist, senior extension specialist
4-H Center Program Director
associate 4-H Center program director, program director, or senior program director
Employment policies and procedures for Extension faculty with Continued Appointment or on the Continued Appointment-Track are in chapter fourteen of this handbook. Extension faculty not on the Continued Appointment Track are Administrative and Professional (A/P) faculty and covered by polices in chapter seven.
Extension faculty may or may not hold appointment in an academic college. They are, nonetheless, subject to high professional standards in the dissemination of knowledge through the Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and in the planning and delivery of educational programs and programs of assistance to industries and local governmental agencies. In these functions, Extension faculty share many of the professional concerns of their college colleagues, including the need for the protection of academic freedom in these responsibilities.
The rank held by a faculty member in Extension does not imply a particular rank in any college department. Extension faculty may hold concurrent adjunct status in a college department to formally recognize their contributions to the undergraduate or graduate program.
Rank: lecturer, instructor
Administrative and professional (A/P) faculty employment policies and procedures are described in chapter seven of this handbook. A/P faculty may or may not hold appointment in an academic college. Policies regarding the assignment of a faculty rank in a college department for an administrative or professional faculty member are in chapter seven.
Administrative faculty, also referred to as senior administrators, typically serve in executive-level leadership roles such as vice president, dean, assistant or associate vice president or dean, or director of a major unit. They perform work directly related to management of the institution, college, or an administrative department. Administrative faculty usually have a rank other than lecturer, may hold an academic rank in a college department, and may be tenured or have a continued appointment.
Professional faculty, also referred to as managers and professionals, may direct or provide support for academic, administrative, Extension, outreach, athletic, or other programs. They may also provide vital university functions such as information technology, budget or finance, human resources, public relations, development, and architectural or engineering functions. Advancement is recognized by salary adjustment and/or a change in functional title rather than promotion in faculty rank.
research assistant professor, research associate professor, research professor
research associate, senior research associate
research scientist, senior research scientist
project associate, senior project associate, project director
Research faculty employment policies and procedures are described in chapter six of this handbook. Faculty designated to promote and expedite university research activities and who have responsibilities primarily in the research area are considered research faculty. Research faculty are typically employed on sponsored grants and contracts on a restricted appointment to carry out research or outreach projects.
** Effective August 2020, no additional research faculty were hired into this track or ranks.
See Research Faculty (chapter six) for full information on research-affiliated faculty.
The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) promotes continued growth, improvement, and integration in biomedical and health sciences research and educational programs at Virginia Tech. The FHS serves as an organizational home for (a) faculty members who are appointed to it due to their research, teaching, outreach, and/or administrative accomplishments and responsibilities, and (b) interdisciplinary graduate programs in biomedical and health sciences. Faculty appointed to the FHS must have a graduate or professional degree in a relevant discipline.
Faculty appointments to the FHS are term (fixed period) appointments, ranging from one to five years, and are renewable without limit with the agreement of all appropriate parties. The FHS does not award tenure. A faculty member employed by Virginia Tech must have a primary appointment in a senior management unit - college or school, institute, or vice presidential unit. Faculty members employed at other institutions who wish to be appointed to the FHS must have an adjunct or affiliated appointment in a Virginia Tech senior management unit - college or school, institute, or vice presidential unit.
The provost appoints the vice president of health sciences and technology to lead the Faculty of Health Sciences. The vice president reports directly to the provost. The vice president enhances health science-related work across the university; leads efforts to develop curriculum, research, and engagement at the intersection of health sciences and technology; expands interdisciplinary graduate programs in biomedical and health sciences; leads an internal advisory group that advises the senior leadership on new strategic directions and promising funding opportunities; and leads and facilitates coordination of clinical, research, and educational relationships internally and with external institutions.
The vice president of health sciences and technology establishes a selection process for faculty appointments to the FHS, selection is based on research, teaching, outreach, and/or administrative contributions to Virginia Tech’s biomedical and/or health sciences initiatives. The selection process involves an evaluation of the individual’s application and a recommendation to the provost. The provost makes the final decision and informs the individual of the outcome of the application by letter.
Appointments to the FHS may be made in any faculty category, with rank determined by qualifications. The usual title is [rank] of health sciences. Appointment to the FHS is a secondary title at the existing rank for current Virginia tech Faculty members. Qualifications for appointment within each rank are described in the appropriate chapter in this handbook. Faculty members with adjunct or affiliated appointments may be appointed using an unqualified title (assistant professor, associate professor, professor) followed by “of health sciences,” as the FHS does not award tenure and service in this role is not tenure-earning.
VTCSOM faculty members are of two types: faculty employed by the university or faculty employed by other entities (in most cases Carilion Clinic). At all times, regardless of employer, faculty members providing instruction, academic support, or performing academic duties or roles as a VTCSOM faculty member are governed by the university’s policies and procedures.
The VTCSOM initiates, defines, and contracts for professional services requested from a Virginia Tech faculty member. The contract may be for a buyout of the faculty member’s time through a sponsored project, or the faculty member may be paid directly through overload (wage) compensation. The payment mechanism reflects the level of time commitment, the ability of the department to release the faculty member from current assignments, and the needs of both Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the faculty member’s department at Virginia Tech.
As part of its commitment to partnership, Virginia Tech provides faculty mentorship of medical student research projects without additional compensation or buyout.
Faculty members employed by the university and whose appointment is in a college other than the VTCSOM are eligible for appointment in the VTCSOM. The dean of the VTCSOM administers a process for the selection and appointment of faculty members. The process includes coordination and agreement with the faculty member, the appropriate department head, chair, or supervisor, and the dean of the faculty member’s college. A recommendation is made to the provost who makes the final decision and communicates the decision to all parties. Appointments may be made in any faculty category with rank determined by qualifications. The usual title is (rank) of (discipline), for faculty members employed by the university this is a secondary title at the existing rank. Faculty members with adjunct or affiliated appointments may be appointed using an unqualified title (assistant professor, associate professor, professor) followed by the appropriate disciplinary designation (e.g. pediatrics). Faculty members employed by the university and with tenure-track or tenured appointments external to the VTCSOM earn or retain tenure in their primary department and college. Faculty members employed by the university are not eligible for tenure-to-title in the VTCSOM.
Payments made to Virginia Tech faculty members are made through an approved Virginia Tech payroll mechanism. Virginia Tech faculty members may not hold a private consulting contract with Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine since this would violate the Virginia Conflict of Interests Act.
A buyout of the faculty member’s time is appropriate when the professional services requested are of longer duration and/or exceed 20 percent of the faculty member’s time (more than one day per week, for example). A buyout may also be used in the context of shorter duration commitments if determined to be in the best interest of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, the Virginia Tech department, and the faculty member. Buyouts work as any other sponsored project buyout, releasing salary savings to the department and/or college to hire behind as needed, and requiring approval by the department head, chair, or supervisor, and dean.
Overload or wage payments that are made directly to the faculty member are appropriate for short duration and/or occasional professional services rendered to Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (usually up to 20 percent time or one day per week). The rate of payment is established by the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as a general rate of compensation or in individual negotiation with the faculty member.
Faculty members may earn up to 33⅓ percent of their current salary through all overload wage payments, including the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, continuing education, or other authorized special wage payments during the period of their Virginia Tech contract. Faculty on 10-, 11-, or 12-month research extended appointments may also earn up to this limit as overload compensation during their contract period.
Summer pay from all Virginia Tech sources (e.g., summer school, funded research paid as wages, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, etc.) for nine-month faculty members may not exceed 33⅓ percent of the prior academic year salary.
Contracts for professional service to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine paid as overload compensation may not exceed the current time limitations defined in the consulting policy, which is one day per week or five days in a five-week period. Time limitations also include the accumulation of other types of authorized special or external activity, including continuing education and consulting. University policies on conflict of commitment (described in chapter two, “Faculty Commitment to the University”) set the expectation that a faculty member’s primary professional responsibility is to the university.
Overload agreements and payments require approval of the department head, chair, or supervisor, and dean. In lieu of salary compensation, a faculty member may choose to receive an equivalent contribution to an operating allocation in support of professional activities.
Please see chapter 12 in this handbook, “Employment Policies and Procedures for Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Faculty.”
Detailed faculty recruitment and search processes and procedures are available on the Human Resources website. These procedures apply to all types of full-time, regular faculty positions. Search exemptions may be approved under specified circumstances.
Upon position approval by the dean or appropriate vice president or their designee, search processes include
- the establishment of a representative search committee
- the development of a tailored, aggressive search strategy that usually includes national advertising in appropriate journals in the discipline
- personal contacts with colleagues
- follow up with women and underrepresented colleagues and doctoral students listed in relevant directories
- other targeted efforts to identify a strong and diversified pool of candidates.
Prior to selecting candidates for interview, the chair of the search committee reviews the diversity and strength of the candidate pool with the dean, vice president, or designee, who makes a judgment as to whether additional recruitment efforts should be made. The committee reviews applications once a representative pool is established or recruitment strategies are exhausted. A limited number of candidates are usually invited for on-campus interviews. Prior to making an offer, the department head, chair, or supervisor reviews the search and interview process with the dean, vice president, or designee.
For appointments with tenure or continued appointment, review and recommendation by the applicable departmental promotion and tenure committee or continued appointment committee is sought before a decision is made to extend to a candidate a firm offer that includes the granting of tenure or continued appointment, or the award of a rank higher than assistant professor. An offer of faculty appointment with tenure may be made with the review and approval of the department head, chair, or supervisor and the department promotion and tenure committee, the dean, a university promotion and tenure subcommittee, the provost, and the president.
It is the policy of Virginia Tech to provide equal opportunity for all qualified individuals while rejecting all forms of prejudice and discrimination. Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or military status; or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants; or any other basis protected by law. For inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies, contact the Office for Equity and Accessibility at 540-231-2010 or Virginia Tech, North End Center, Suite 2300 (0318), 300 Turner Street, NW, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
Virginia Tech is committed to ensuring that all qualified individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to take part in educational and employment programs and services on an equal basis. The aim is to provide this opportunity in an integrated setting that fosters independence and meets the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Reasonable accommodations are made on an individual and flexible basis.
Virginia Tech is committed to increasing the number of women and underrepresented faculty and administrators. This commitment is stated and elaborated in the affirmative action program, Executive Order 11246, and other documents filed with federal and state officials. All recruitment and search processes and procedures are designed to ensure that searches are conducted affirmatively, resulting in greater faculty diversity.
New appointments and reappointments are documented in the terms of faculty offer (often referred to as a “TOFO”) prepared by the department head, chair, or supervisor and approved according to procedures established by the dean or senior manager, signed by the candidate, and forwarded to Human Resources within the university’s recruitment and onboarding system.
See chapter six (Research Faculty) for new appointments and reappointments for research faculty including postdoctoral associates.
See the Human Resources website for the terms of faculty offer (TOFO) templates for each type of faculty appointment. The terms of faculty offer is intended to document the tenure or continued appointment status (tenured, tenure-track, non-tenure-track, continued appointment, or continued appointment-track), appointment status (regular or restricted, effective date and, if restricted, an end date), the appointment period (academic or calendar year) and length of the appointment, assigned faculty rank, and other conditions relevant to the employment offer. If the appointment is tenure-track or continued appointment-track, reference to prior service credit should be addressed, if relevant (as described in chapter three). All terms of faculty offer shall refer to further terms and conditions of employment contained in this handbook.
The terms of faculty offer for a restricted appointment must state the length of the appointment. In cases where there is no expected opportunity for continuation, the terms of faculty offer document also serves as a notice of termination. Continuation of a restricted appointment, even during the specified appointment period, is subject to the availability of funds, the need for services, and satisfactory performance. This information is included in the terms of faculty offer. Related letters of offer or reappointment should not contain promises that the hiring unit is unable to keep; the university looks to the department to make good on defaults. The department head, chair, or supervisor’s approval is required before an offer is extended. Appointments to postdoctoral associate positions require approval from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.
When a vacancy occurs, the college dean requests that the department nominate members of its faculty for service on a search committee. The dean appoints the committee from among those nominated and may appoint additional members who shall constitute a minority of the committee.
The committee elects its chairperson and meets with the college dean to determine appropriate conditions of the position, such as rank and available resources. The dean should share with the search committee a realistic assessment of the college’s and university’s commitment to the department and its programs.
The position is nationally advertised unless the dean and the committee agree that the position should be considered a promotional opportunity restricted to candidates from faculty of the department without national advertisement. Such a decision should be reached only in a department having a quality of program and a maturity of development to afford several well-qualified candidates from within its own ranks. The decision may be influenced by the lack of a vacant faculty position in the department.
After professional qualifications of candidates are reviewed, references and colleagues of the best-qualified candidates are consulted. A limited number of candidates (ordinarily three) are invited, on approval of the college dean, to visit the university. The search committee, the college dean, and university officials, as available and appropriate, interview the candidates. Candidates also meet with selected students and faculty members in the department. The committee takes care to provide internal candidates with fair opportunities to make their qualifications equally well known.
The search committee seeks advice from those who meet with the candidates and makes its recommendations on the preferred candidate(s) to the college dean. The dean recommends the appointment of the department head, chair, or school director to the provost, but only after extensive consultation with the department faculty. It should, in effect, be a joint process.
When a vacancy occurs, the provost determines the procedures that will be used for identifying qualified candidates. The provost requests nominations for membership on a search committee from the appropriate faculty members or faculty association. The provost appoints a search committee from the list of nominees and may appoint additional members who shall constitute a minority of the committee. When a vacancy occurs in an academic deanship that has university responsibility spanning colleges and other academic units, the search committee shall include faculty representatives from all appropriate colleges. The provost or designee serves as chairperson of the search committee. Ordinarily a national search is conducted.
After professional qualifications of candidates are reviewed, references and colleagues of the best-qualified candidates are consulted. A limited number of candidates are invited to visit the campus. The search committee, representative of department heads or chairs, academic deans, the vice presidents, and the president interview the candidates. Candidates also meet with selected students and faculty members of the college. The committee should take care to provide internal candidates with fair opportunities to make their qualifications equally well known.
The provost seeks advice from those who meet with the candidates and seeks agreement with the search committee on the candidate(s) to be recommended. The provost’s recommendation is made to the president, who then authorizes the extension of an offer.
When a vacancy occurs in the position of associate dean, assistant dean, or assistant to the dean, and the position does not involve responsibility for assignment of faculty activities or recommendations on salaries and promotions, it is filled on recommendation by the dean to the provost and the president. Department heads, chairs, and representative faculty should be consulted; a formal search committee is formed if the appointment is not limited to an internal promotional opportunity. If the position involves responsibility for assignment of faculty activities or recommendations on salaries and promotions, the search and selection procedures are similar to those used for deans, but the dean serves as chairperson of the search committee.
2.10.4 Search and Appointment of Executive Vice President and Provost, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer, and Administrative Vice Presidents
When a vacancy occurs, the president determines the procedures that will be used for identifying qualified candidates, including the decision to engage a search firm and/or to appoint a university search or screening committee. Where the position involves considerable interaction with college faculty, significant engagement of faculty members in the search and/or interview process is desirable and expected.
The Board of Visitors establishes the procedures for the selection of a president when the vacancy is announced. Per the Code of Virginia, the Board of Visitors must solicit the input of the institution's faculty senate or its equivalent regarding the search for candidates for the position of chief executive officer of the institution at a public or private venue.
2.11 Appointment Types: Academic Year (AY), Research Extended for AY, Calendar Year (CY), Restricted, Summer Session, Winter Session
The department head, chair, supervisor, or dean extends, in writing, new faculty appointments and renewals of term (fixed period) appointments using the terms of faculty offer (TOFO) document. Most faculty appointments in the academic units of the university are for the nine-month academic year; these are called academic year (AY) appointments. While the payroll dates for the academic year are August 10 through May 9, faculty are expected to be available two weeks prior to the first day of classes and two weeks following commencement. No annual leave is awarded within the academic year, but the discretion of the department head, chair, or supervisor is recognized in assigning duties during periods when the university is not in session. Faculty members are expected to be available for work during such periods.
Although the annual salary assigned for an academic year appointment covers only the academic year, the salary is paid in 24 semi-monthly installments over the calendar year, with payment occurring on the first and sixteenth day of each month. (If that day of the month falls on a Saturday, the payment is made on the preceding Friday; if Sunday, the payment is made on the following Monday.) Payment is deposited directly to the faculty member’s bank or financial establishment.
Faculty members whose appointments are for only part of the academic year receive a pro rata portion of the annual salary. Details of the faculty compensation plan are available from Human Resources.
Faculty members on academic year appointments whose employment with the university ceases at the end of the academic year, or any academic term, may request (with proper notice) that all remaining installments of their earned salary be paid on the next available payroll after Human Resources has been notified and employment has ceased.
Under certain conditions, faculty members on academic year appointments may extend their base nine-month appointment to a 10-, 11-, or 12-month appointment reflecting the faculty member’s sponsored research responsibilities.
Academic year faculty members with approved research extended appointments may earn and accrue annual leave proportional to their appointments. Faculty members with one, two, or three months of sponsored funding are strongly urged to convert their nine-month appointment to a 10-, 11-, or 12-month research extended appointment, which entitles them to earn and use annual leave and to have the summer pay included as creditable compensation for retirement purposes in accordance with university policies. Unused annual leave will not be compensated at the time of reconversion or separation.
Faculty members requesting a research extended appointment complete the request form available on the provost’s website. The requesting faculty member must provide documentation for the additional months of funding. Requests for research extended appointments require approval of the department head, chair, supervisor, dean (or appropriate administrator), and provost or senior vice president and chief business officer (or their designees).
Research extended appointments are renewed annually with verification of sponsored funding by the department head, chair, or supervisor to support the continuation. The continuation request form is also available on the provost’s website.
Information regarding employment policies and practices for research faculty is available in chapter six of this handbook.
Some faculty members have assigned responsibilities that extend throughout the calendar year, largely independent of the academic calendar. Such faculty members are on calendar year (CY) appointments with work assignments covering the full 12 months except for periods of annual leave. The kinds of positions that may call for calendar year appointments include department heads, chairs, administrative and professional faculty, and research faculty.
Faculty who assume calendar year appointments while serving in department head, chair, or other administrative roles retain the calendar year appointment only for the duration of the assignment. Upon returning to an instructional faculty position in a department characterized by academic year appointments, the faculty member resumes an academic year appointment with a corresponding adjustment in salary. (Instructional faculty who were on calendar year appointments prior to assuming the administrative assignment usually resume their prior calendar year appointment and salary upon completion of the administrative assignment.)
Conversions of appointment from academic year to calendar year or the reverse (or to any other appointment period acceptable under university policy) are done in accordance with standard formulas approved by the provost or senior vice president and chief business officer. Any exception requires approval by the provost or senior vice president and chief business officer, depending upon the reporting structure.
Appointments to the general faculty may be made for which there is no presumption or consideration of renewal. Such appointments are called “restricted” and should be so designated, with a specified term/fixed period (start and end dates) in the terms of faculty offer (TOFO). Restricted appointments are commonly made in the cases of research faculty employed to work on projects with external funding, visiting professorships, and other temporarily available faculty positions.
(Restricted appointments are in contrast to renewable term appointments (often called “probationary,” “tenure-track,” or “continued appointment-track” appointments), tenured appointments, continued appointments, and year-by-year appointments of administrative and professional faculty, all of which are categorized as “regular” appointments (“regular” has unique meaning in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. See chapter 12.)
When a person on a restricted appointment is to be continued, a formal reappointment is required and should be issued prior to the end of the existing contract. The reappointment contract restates the conditions of the appointment. Any changes should be made explicit. If a salary increase is approved, it should be part of the reappointment contract. The reappointment contract requires the prior approval of the department head, chair, or supervisor, dean, and the office of the provost. Appointments to postdoctoral associate positions require approval from the office of the vice president for research and innovation.
Faculty members on restricted appointments earn sick leave at the rate of five hours per pay period under the policy that was standard for all faculty members before September 1, 1981. Sick leave does not extend beyond the date of termination of appointment. Faculty members on calendar year restricted appointments earn annual leave at the same rate as faculty on regular appointments but earned annual leave must be taken during the term of appointment; accrued annual leave will not be paid on termination of appointment. Restricted faculty who are eligible to earn annual and sick leave may carry over their unused balances to the next leave year; however, the unused leave is not paid out upon separation.
Faculty on academic year appointments may be invited by the department head, chair, or supervisor to teach one or more courses in summer session for special compensation.
No summer appointments are made without the consent of the faculty member involved.
Faculty members on academic year appointments may also receive special compensation for engaging in approved sponsored research, Extension activities, or non-credit instructional activity conducted by Continuing and Professional Education. The total of special compensation earned through all university programs in the summer by any faculty member on academic year appointment shall not exceed 33⅓ percent of the annual salary for the preceding academic year.
For purposes of sponsored grant and contract activity and for limitations on compensation, May 10 to August 9 designates the summer work period. Faculty members who receive summer salary from sponsored projects must certify the effort expended on those projects during the summer period. Work on a sponsored project during the academic year for which compensation is then provided during the summer is specifically prohibited by federal regulations. Summer pay for sponsored projects is only justified by appropriate effort expended on the project during the summer period.
Only academic year faculty members who have approved research extended appointments earn and accrue annual leave proportional to their appointments. Faculty members with one, two, or three months of sponsored funding are strongly urged to convert their nine-month appointment to a 10-, 11-, or 12-month research extended appointment, which entitles them to earn and use annual leave and to have the summer pay included as creditable compensation for retirement purposes in accordance with university policies. Alternatively, the faculty member can charge less than one, two, or three months of full-time salary to the sponsored project (or other sources as appropriate) and take uncompensated leave for the remainder of the summer in order to have vacation.
Faculty members on academic or calendar year appointments may be invited by the department head, chair, or supervisor to teach in Winter Session. The faculty member receives overload payment for teaching a Winter Session credit course, as it is not considered part of the usual expectation for the instructional year. Compensation for teaching in the session is negotiated by the faculty member and the department. Maximum compensation is set at 3.75 percent of the faculty member’s annual salary for each one-credit semester course taught. An additional incentive grant may be negotiated up to a maximum of one month’s salary. The overload payment including any incentive grant is considered in the total allowable additional aggregate compensation of no more than 33⅓ percent of annual salary.
Appropriately credentialed administrative and professional (A/P) faculty who are qualified for instruction may also teach during the summer and winter session with approval of their department head, chair, or supervisor. Guidelines set forth in Policy 4071, “Policy for Staff Employed to Teach For-Credit Courses,” and Policy 4072, “Teaching Credit Classes and Overload Compensation for Administrative and Professional Faculty Members,” apply.
In accordance with federal law, on the first day of their employment, new employees must provide documentation of U.S. citizenship or lawful authorization to work in the United States.
The university conducts a conviction and/or driving record investigation once a contingent offer is made to the selected candidate, according to the provisions in Policy 4060, “Conviction and Driving Record Investigation for Employment.” Human Resources coordinates the conviction and driving record investigation process.
A preliminary offer may be made to the selected candidate, contingent upon the results of the investigation. However, at no time should the selected candidate be allowed to begin work before the investigation process is complete.
Virginia Tech welcomes the contributions of scholars from all over the world in carrying out its learning, discovery, and engagement missions. Employer-sponsored applications for permanent residency assure the international scholar’s ongoing involvement in the life of the university and the work for which the employee was hired. To receive Virginia Tech sponsorship, all of the following conditions must be met:
The position must have the potential to be ongoing with successive renewals over a period of several years. For positions funded from sponsored grants or contracts, the supporting unit must demonstrate a record of sustained external funding.
The individual’s appointment must be full-time and salaried, and in compliance with federal regulations, such as prevailing wage rate. The appointment may be restricted or regular, either academic or calendar year, as long as it is salaried, full-time, and there is an expectation of successive renewals over a period of several years. Wage employment does not meet this test.
The position is significant and meets institutional needs as documented by the department and validated by the approval of the relevant senior manager. Significance may be signaled, in part, by rank and title, as well as documented in the job description and supported by the individual’s credentials. These include: instructional faculty (ranks of instructor and assistant professor or above, including clinical faculty and collegiate professor ranks, but excluding adjunct, wage, or visiting faculty members); research faculty (all ranks except postdoctoral associates, whose appointments are limited, by definition, to four years); administrative/professional faculty with significant expertise critical to the university; and staff members with significant expertise critical to the university.
The department verifies that they wish to retain the employee in the position indefinitely subject to availability of funding, need for services, and satisfactory performance.
Prospective candidates for faculty positions at Virginia Tech may have spouses or partners who are also seeking employment. The ability of a spouse or partner to find suitable employment is a crucial element in the recruiting process and may be a determining factor in the couple’s decision.
The spouse or partner of a faculty candidate or administrator who is being recruited to Virginia Tech is eligible for participation in the dual career program. The spouse or partner of a current faculty member who has been recently hired or is negotiating a retention package is also eligible for participation in the dual career program.
The dual career program offers job search assistance for up to one year; advice regarding a résumé, curriculum vitae, and cover letter; assistance with interview preparation; and networking assistance. These services do not mean entitlement to employment or a guarantee of job placement. Guidelines that describe procedures for Virginia Tech’s hiring of dual career partners are available on the Human Resources and provost’s websites.
For regional accreditation purposes, Virginia Tech must justify and document the qualifications of all instructors of record as outlined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC does allow for special qualifications that fall outside these guidelines.
Virginia Tech uses the recommended SACSCOC credential guidelines to qualify instructors of record (available on the provost’s website).
Graduate Teaching Assistants serving as instructor of record
- Baccalaureate/undergraduate courses: a master’s degree in the teaching discipline, or a minimum of 18 graduate hours in the teaching discipline and direct supervision by a faculty member experienced in the teaching discipline, regular in-service training, and planned periodic evaluations.
Faculty, Instructors, Adjunct Faculty serving as instructor of record
- Baccalaureate/undergraduate courses: a doctorate, terminal degree, or master’s degree in the teaching discipline, or a master’s degree with at least 18 graduate hours in the teaching discipline.
- Graduate/post-baccalaureate courses: an earned doctorate/terminal degree in the teaching discipline or a related discipline.
Department responsibility. The department within which a course is listed or originates is responsible for qualifying instructors of record by documenting credentials for all who teach at any instructional site including the Blacksburg campus, any distributed university location, and on-line/distance education. The qualifying department may be different than the employing department in some cases. Departments are responsible for maintaining up-to-date documentation of credentials for instructors of record. Changes in credentials may occur after initial qualification (usually at employment as a faculty member).
Documentation of Credentials. Documentation of credentials includes a transcript cover sheet accompanied by an official electronic or other form of official transcript. The cover sheet and transcript are submitted to Human Resources for entering into the university’s Faculty Online Credentialing System (FOCS).
Coversheet and transcript documents can be submitted electronically to Human Resources or, alternatively, can be submitted to Human Resources by mail code 0318.
Virginia Tech encourages and supports the continuing and advanced education of its employees. Educational leave to pursue a degree elsewhere is one option available to faculty. In addition, faculty may enroll for credit courses or degree programs at Virginia Tech. The program is administered under the provisions of Virginia’s general appropriations act and operates under certain constraints imposed by the state policy on educational aid to state employees.
The following provisions apply to full-time salaried faculty (including administrative and professional faculty and research faculty) who wish to take courses at Virginia Tech. Part-time salaried faculty are eligible for a partial tuition benefit. Only courses of degree programs approved in advance by the faculty member’s department head, chair or supervisor are eligible for tuition waiver or reimbursement. Enrollment should not impede the usual work schedule of the department. Time spent attending class during usual work hours must be made up under a plan approved by the department head, chair or supervisor, unless the course is a work-related course required by the university.
Faculty who take courses must meet all admissions requirements, registration, and payment deadlines, just as any other student. Application for admission must be made and approval granted by the graduate school prior to the waiver of tuition for classes. If approved by the department head, chair, or supervisor a faculty member may register for credit or audit a total of 12 credit hours per calendar year, with no more than six credit hours taken in any enrollment period—fall, winter, spring, summer I, or summer II. (The year begins with fall term and ends with summer II.) Additional hours may be taken outside the normal work schedule with the employee paying all applicable fees in excess of those allowable for tuition waiver or reimbursement.
Instructional faculty members of the rank of assistant professor or above are not eligible to become candidates for a degree or to earn an additional degree at this institution. The policy is designed to avoid the awkwardness of faculty members evaluating their colleagues in the fulfillment of degree requirements. This policy may be waived on a case-by-case basis through appeal to the Commission on Faculty Affairs (CFA). CFA may find and recommend to the provost that in a specific case the purpose of the policy is not contradicted. This policy does not apply to degree-seeking administrative and professional faculty, or non-instructional research faculty.
Several types of approved leave, with or without salary, are available to faculty members. Unapproved absence from assigned duties, which is not covered by an approved or earned leave, is subject to a subsequent adjustment in pay.
Salaried faculty and staff use the university leave and time worked reporting system to record all types of leave. A summary of leave policies and detailed procedures to complete the report is available on the Human Resources website.
Calendar year faculty are required to submit leave reports in a timely manner during any leave period in which leave is used and are to submit leave periods six and 12 for financial reporting purposes. A department head or chair may require that all faculty in the department submit monthly leave reports.
Regular calendar year faculty members are eligible to donate annual leave hours to the leave sharing program. Only full-time and part-time salaried staff employees may be recipients of leave sharing.
When college faculty members are absent during the academic year to attend meetings or consult about research funding, etc., and when these absences take fewer than five days, the department head or chair is the principal approving officer and is responsible for ensuring the adequate coverage of the duties of the absent colleague. An absence of up to two weeks is managed entirely within the college and requires the approval of the department head, chair, and dean. But, absences beyond two weeks must be forwarded through the department head, chair, and dean to the provost for review and approval. A determination is made about the necessity of a leave of absence without pay or a change of duty station with pay for university approved activities away from the home location. (See chapter two, “Change of Duty Station and Special Leave.”)
Leaves of absence on partial salary (not to exceed one-half salary) may be granted to faculty members for educational purposes. Such leaves are granted for formal educational advancement ordinarily leading to an advanced degree from another institution, which is of demonstrable benefit to the university and to the faculty member.
The leave is granted only if satisfactory arrangements can be made for effective continuation of the relevant program. Only that fraction of a position not supported by the partial salary of the leave is available for the appointment of a replacement faculty member during the period of the leave. Educational leaves ordinarily are granted for periods of one year or less. If the program of study is completed, or if the faculty member ceases active participation in that program before the ending date of the approved leave, the faculty member immediately returns to full employment or resigns employment. With the recommendation of the department head, chair, and dean (or appropriate administrator) application is made to the provost or senior vice president and chief business officer, depending upon the reporting structure.
On approval of educational leave with partial pay, the faculty member must sign a memorandum of agreement, which obligates the faculty member to return to full employment in the university for a period twice the time of the approved leave or to repay the university the salary received plus interest. If a leave recipient returns to the university, but resigns before completing that obligation, the salary repayment is prorated.
Policies governing advanced study at Virginia Tech without leave are covered in chapter two, “Advanced Study at Virginia Tech.”
Military leave is available to all faculty members, including those on restricted, wage, or adjunct appointments. Faculty members are eligible for leave with pay for 15 days including an additional day for a physical in a federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30) for military duty, including training, if they are members of any reserve component of the Armed Forces or the National Guard. Fifteen days of paid military leave plus an additional day for a physical is the maximum allowable for one tour of duty, even when that tour encompasses more than one federal fiscal year. Employees may use accrued annual leave to continue their pay while on military leave. Employees are granted unconditional leave without pay for the duty indicated in their military orders that is not covered by military leave with pay. To qualify for military leave, faculty members must furnish their department head, chair, and Human Resources with copies of their orders.
Employees are reinstated to their previous positions or to positions comparable to their previous positions provided that certain conditions are met. Requests for reinstatement must be made to Human Resources and should state that the individual is seeking reinstatement to employment upon return from military service. If the military leave was for a period of 31 to 180 days, the employee must apply for reinstatement within 14 days of discharge. If the military leave was for a period of 181 days or more, the employee must apply for reinstatement within 90 days of discharge. Contact Human Resources for guidance and a full description of military leave benefits and conditions, and reinstatement.
If a faculty member is called for jury duty, subpoenaed, or summonsed to appear in court, this absence may be charged to administrative leave, except when a defendant in a criminal or civil case. This leave should be requested before it is taken. Any time spent in court as a defendant in a criminal or civil case must be charged to annual leave, compensatory leave, or leave without pay. Faculty members receive full pay for administrative leave, provided a copy of the subpoena or other supporting document accompanies the leave report.
Administrative leave with pay is not granted for more time than actually required for the purpose for which it is taken. Any additional administrative leave time taken on the same day must be charged to leave without pay or appropriate leave balances and reported on the monthly leave report.
Faculty members are granted administrative leave to attend work-related hearings as a witness under subpoena or regarding a personal claim. Administrative leave may be used when called to serve on councils, commissions, boards, or committees of the commonwealth. If a faculty member is serving as an official representative of the university, then administrative leave is not used. The service time is treated as part of the faculty member’s regular work hours.
Instructional and research faculty members on academic year appointments do not earn or accrue annual leave. Regular administrative and professional (A/P) faculty members on academic year appointments earn annual leave only during the period of their appointment at the same rate as regular A/P faculty members on calendar year appointment. Faculty members on calendar year appointments earn two days (16 hours) of annual leave credit per month in accordance with leave policies; after 20 years of continuous employment by the commonwealth, 18 hours of annual leave are earned per month. Faculty members on research extended appointments earn annual leave proportional to their appointments. However, unused annual leave will not be compensated at the time of reconversion or separation for faculty on research extended appointments or restricted appointments.
All faculty members who earn annual leave are expected to record the appropriate leave type on the monthly leave report if they do not work during the academic breaks. Approval of the department head, chair, or supervisor is required in advance of using annual leave.
Faculty members on calendar year regular appointments, may carry forward accrued annual leave to a maximum of 36 days (288 hours) at the beginning of each leave year or may be paid up to the maximum on termination of employment. After 20 years of service, the maximum accrued leave carried forward or paid upon separation becomes 42 days (336 hours).
Annual leave must be earned before it is used. Holidays observed by university faculty members are New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day following, Christmas Day, and other holidays that the governor may designate. If faculty members are required to work on these days due to extenuating circumstances as determined by the supervisor, or if they are designated as emergency personnel, they may use compensatory leave at a later date, but compensatory days do not accrue as earned annual leave. (Editor’s note: Implementation of Juneteenth is currently being addressed through the governance system.)
The university closes between December 25 and January 1 each year. Twelve-month faculty (and those on research extended appointments earning leave), research faculty, and administrative and professional faculty must use annual or other appropriate leave balances to cover the days not worked, with the exception of the official faculty holidays or other holidays that the governor may designate.
Faculty members with accrued annual leave who temporarily change their status (for example, going on leave without pay or changing to a part-time appointment for a short period of time) should contact Human Resources to discuss their options and indicate their preference for either payout of their leave balance or retention of their leave balance until they resume full-time status. Calendar year faculty on study-research assignment earn annual leave at a rate that is half their usual annual leave earnings.
Regular calendar year faculty members are eligible to donate annual leave hours to the leave sharing program. Under state policy, only full-time and part-time salaried staff employees may be recipients of leave sharing.
Eligible faculty members have immediate protection of 26 weeks of sick leave. On return from sick leave, re-accrual to a maximum of 26 weeks takes place at the rate of one week of sick leave for each two weeks of full-time work. Isolated minor illnesses extending over a maximum of 10 days are handled at the department level with the cooperation of faculty colleagues for the covering of necessary duties. Sick leave must be recorded for absences exceeding 10 days in duration. Faculty members are strongly encouraged to record use of sick leave, even when the occurrence is less than 10 days. Faculty members are also encouraged to apply for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act for any absence greater than five work days. Ability to document the onset of illness can provide critical financial protection for faculty members who ultimately need long-term disability. Provision is made for prorated sick leave usage when partial resumption of duties can be undertaken. However, re-accrual does not begin until full-time service resumes. Faculty members whose appointments began on or after September 1, 1981, are subject to this policy.
Faculty members whose appointments began before September 1, 1981, had the option of selecting the above policy or continuing coverage under the previously existing sick leave policy. Under that policy, sick leave is accrued at the rate of 15 days (120 hours) per calendar year with no maximum accrued limitation. Sick leave credit is not given for service of less than one-half month; leave cannot be granted before it is earned. All faculty members on restricted appointment have coverage under this previously existing sick leave policy.
Faculty members in full-time restricted salary positions receive 10 hours per month of sick leave. Faculty on part-time restricted appointments earn sick leave based on their percentage of employment.
In 1999, state employees in regular or restricted positions, who were participants under the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), could choose to enroll in the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP). VSDP provides employees with a minimum of 64 hours of sick leave and 32 hours of family/personal leave annually. These hours are replenished each year, but do not carry over. In addition, VSDP provides salary continuation during periods of short-term disability up to six months and long-term disability to age 65 or later depending on age at the time of disability.
Beginning September 1, 2017, per VRS directive, the election for coverage under VSDP is irrevocable. Therefore, if faculty members on restricted appointments had previously elected coverage under VSDP then later convert to regular faculty appointments, on or after September 1, 2017, the applicable VRS directive disallows VSDP opt-out election.
The sick leave plans do not provide for compensation for unused sick leave upon termination (some employees are exempted under old plans).
Under all policies, sick leave may be used for illness, accidents, and pregnancy-related conditions. Faculty under the first two plans may use family sick leave for family emergencies. (For more information on leave for family emergencies and pregnancy-related conditions, see chapter two, “Family Medical Leave Act” and “Family Leave.”) The university may require certification of the medical necessity of the period of absence from work due to illness, accident, or pregnancy-related condition. Certification, when required, is requested from the attending health care provider and/or a health care provider designated by the university.
Faculty on academic year appointments are not covered during the period of a summer appointment under any sick leave policy. Faculty positions are not released for replacement purposes because of sick leave. The dean’s authorization is required when replacement becomes necessary.
Full details of all sick leave policies and procedures, including eligibility, are available from Human Resources.
The university recognizes that faculty members have family responsibilities that may make extraordinary claims on their time, making it difficult to fully carry out their responsibilities. Department head, chair, deans, and other supervisory personnel are urged to be as flexible as possible within existing university policy in responding to the need for leave or temporary adjustment of duties for family-related reasons.
Paid sick leave is available for pregnancy-related medical conditions, childbirth, and recovery. The length of time charged to sick leave varies and is based on the recommendation of a physician. Sick leave may also be used for family emergencies. Leave for this purpose is restricted to a total of 10 days (80 hours) during a calendar year for absence necessitated by the serious illness or death of a family member or any individual residing in the same household. Use of such leave must be recorded through the regular leave reporting system so that total usage during the period can be monitored. Restricted faculty may use 80 hours of their earned sick leave or annual leave for these purposes.
Federal law (Family and Medical Leave Act) guarantees employees a minimum period of 12 workweeks of leave during a year for family care if they have been employed at Virginia Tech for at least 12 months and if they have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. The time frame for calculating a year is measured forward from the date the employee is approved for FMLA. Accrued sick and annual leave may be used, as appropriate; the use of paid leave should be concurrent with the approved FMLA period (i.e., run concurrently). The remainder of the 12-workweek leave period is leave without pay. The faculty member may request a longer period of leave without pay as suggested in the following section, which requires approval of the department head, chair, dean or vice president, and senior administrator. Adjunct faculty are eligible for unpaid leave under FMLA if they meet the minimum employment requirements.
Eligible faculty are granted unpaid family or medical leave for one or more of the following: birth of a child; placement of a child with the faculty member for adoption or foster care; the care of an immediate family member (child, spouse, parent) who has a serious health condition; or a serious health condition that makes the faculty member unable to perform the position’s function. Prior to leave approval, the department head, chair, or supervisor may require documentation of the health condition necessitating care of a family member by the employee or the employee’s own health condition.
The period of up to 12 workweeks of family leave for purposes of birth or adoption may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule if the faculty member and department head, chair, or supervisor agree and it does not create an undue hardship on the program or project. In the case of medical leave because of a faculty illness or illness of a family member, leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule when medically necessary. The department head, chair, or supervisor may require documentation of such medical necessity. The department head, chair, or supervisor may reassign responsibilities or transfer the faculty member to another position with the same salary in order to accommodate the intermittent or reduced leave schedule.
On return from leave, the faculty member returns to the same position or an equivalent position with the same benefits and salary at the time leave was taken. There is no accrual of additional sick or annual leave during the leave without pay period taken, or service toward the minimum six-year requirement for consideration for research-study leave. However, if the requested amount of leave extends beyond the term of appointment of a restricted faculty member or wage/adjunct employee and reappointment is not anticipated, the department head, chair, or supervisor is not required to maintain the position of the faculty member on leave beyond the original termination date. The request for family or medical leave shall not constitute sufficient reason for non-reappointment, termination, or other retaliatory action.
Eligibility for family leave for the purpose of birth or adoption expires at the end of the 12-month period beginning on the date of birth or placement. The faculty member gives the department head, chair, or supervisor at least 30 days’ notice regardless of reason, whenever practicable. If leave is requested for care of a family member, documentation of the serious health condition necessitating care by the faculty member may be required.
Benefits are continued for full-time employees in accordance with state personnel policies and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Contact Human Resources for detailed information on which benefits are continued and for what period. The procedures for requesting FMLA are available from Human Resources. Unlike some other leave types, the employee and medical professionals must complete specific forms.
The Governor of Virginia’s Executive Order Number 12 (2018) provides eight (8) weeks (320 hours) of paid parental leave to employees who have been employed by the commonwealth for a minimum of twelve (12) consecutive months. Eligible employees will receive paid parental leave following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child younger than 18 years of age. The paid parental leave policy is in addition to other leave benefits available to commonwealth employees, such as Virginia Sickness and Disability Program leave (VSDP), sick leave, annual leave, and leave under the federal Family Medical and Leave Act (29 U.S.C. §§ 2601-2654). If both parents are eligible employees, each shall receive parental leave which may be taken concurrently, consecutively, or at different times within six (6) months following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of the child. Further information about this program is available from the Division of Human Resources.
In addition, faculty members on regular, salaried appointments wishing or requiring an extended period of time for child or family care may be granted leave without pay for up to one year (academic year or calendar year depending on type of appointment) thereby guaranteeing their job during the period of leave. A second year of leave without pay may be requested and approved in unusual cases. (See chapter two, “Leave Without Pay,” for terms and conditions.) Sick leave and accrued annual leave, if appropriate and applicable, may be used prior to leave without pay.
It is in the university’s interest to help employees combine new parenthood (or other temporary extraordinary family obligations) and employment when possible and preferred by the faculty member over a full leave from the university. Regular faculty members who find that they cannot carry on their usual university duties in the usual manner and fulfill their family obligations at the same time may request consideration for part-time employment at proportional pay. Assigned responsibilities for a part-time load vary depending on the needs of both the individual and department. Expectations for learning, discovery, engagement, and committee assignments should be discussed in advance with the department head, chair, or supervisor. The department head, chair, or supervisor may require the faculty member to be assigned different responsibilities or transferred to another position at the same salary in order to accommodate the intermittent leave or reduced schedule.
Probationary faculty on the tenure or continued appointment track who are moving to part-time status for the purposes of child or family care receive an extension of the mandatory tenure or continued appointment review date, consistent with sections in chapter three, “Extending the Tenure Clock,” and chapters four and fourteen, “Extending the Continued Appointment Clock.”
Department heads, chairs, and supervisors should be sensitive and responsive where possible in establishing work hours, course and committee scheduling, and other aspects of employment for faculty members who are new parents or who are experiencing temporary extraordinary family obligations.
A one-year probationary period extension is automatically granted to either parent (or both, if both parents are tenure-track or continued appointment-track faculty members) in recognition of the demands of caring for a newborn child or a child under five newly placed for adoption or foster care. The request should be made within a year of the child’s arrival in the family.
An extension of the probationary period may also be approved on a discretionary basis for other extenuating non-professional circumstances that have had a significant impact on the faculty member’s productivity, such as a serious personal illness or major illness of a member of the immediate family. (See chapter three, “Extending the Tenure Clock,” and chapter four and fourteen, “Extending the Continued Appointment Clock.”)
Faculty members wishing to take leave from their duties without salary may request such leave from the provost or senior vice president and chief business officer, depending upon the reporting structure, on the recommendation of the department head, chair, or supervisor and the dean (or appropriate administrator). The period of requested leave cannot exceed two years. The request must be made with sufficient notice to allow time to secure a qualified replacement. The request should include the reason for the leave, whether for personal reasons or because of opportunity for further professional development.
When leave approval is granted, a date is specified by which any request for extension of the leave or notification of intent not to return to the university at the conclusion of the leave is required. The granting of the leave or of any extension is dependent on the interests of the university and those of the faculty member. Consult with Human Resources to determine what benefits may be purchased.
Department heads, chairs, and supervisors may grant release time to faculty when they are formally called to provide disaster relief services because of their specialized skill or training. Release time for faculty is not recorded in the leave system. For audit purposes, record of time off should be noted in the faculty member’s departmental file, along with the written request.
Absence from campus or the home work location for a period of more than two weeks while carrying out university-approved activities is called a change of duty station or special leave. A change of duty station may be approved in instances such as grant responsibilities, opportunity of a prestigious fellowship in residence at another institution, or similar activities of benefit to the individual faculty member and the university. Approval of the provost or senior vice president and chief business officer, depending upon the reporting structure, on recommendation of the department head, chair, or supervisor and dean (or appropriate administrator) is required when such absences involve salary payment by university general funds, either in full or in part. Such authorization is usually not granted for longer than one semester. The host institution, agency, or sponsored project is expected to make a significant contribution toward the cost of the faculty member’s salary and/or benefits. The provost or the senior vice president and chief business officer determines whether a change of duty station involving institutional salary support or leave without pay is appropriate to the circumstances.
Reassignment of a faculty member at the initiative of the university to a primary workstation located more than 50 miles from the current workstation is considered a geographical transfer. A department head, chair, or supervisor may request the geographical transfer of a faculty member to implement a programmatic mission of the university. The affected faculty member shall be involved in planning for the transfer prior to the submission of a formal request for transfer. The request for geographical transfer shall be transmitted in writing to a second-level administrator for approval with accompanying documentation justifying the need for the transfer of the selected individual. The justification shall describe the university program and the position to which the faculty member is being transferred. This description shall list the unique skills and knowledge required to fulfill the program’s mission. The alternatives for meeting the requirements shall be outlined, along with the reasons for selecting the alternative of geographical transfer of the particular faculty member. A faculty member must be notified in writing at least six months in advance of the geographical transfer. The transferred faculty member shall be reimbursed for all allowable expenses as defined by the university and state policy. A cost of living adjustment will be added to the faculty member’s base salary during the period of employment in a high-cost area.
2.19.1 Required Use of and Participation in Continuing and Professional Education Program Services and Facilities
Policy 6362, “Policy on Continuing and Professional Education,” requires that academic colleges, centers, and administrative units designing and delivering continuing and professional education activities, both on-and off-campus, under the auspices of the Virginia Tech brand must work through Continuing and Professional Education. This includes work conducted by faculty in Blacksburg, as well as faculty delivering continuing education programs at university locations outside Blacksburg. Alternate arrangements may be made in the case of lack of availability of appropriate space or mutual agreement between the sponsoring university entity and Continuing and Professional Education. Contact Continuing and Professional Education for further information.
2.19.2 Non-Credit Continuing and Professional Education Activities Overload Payment and Compensation
Faculty members may be eligible for direct payment for non-credit instructional activity in Continuing and Professional Education programs.
All faculty members not supported by educational and general funds of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Continuing and Professional Education, or outreach programs are eligible for such payments.
Faculty members supported by such funding whose job descriptions do not include activity in non-credit instruction may request approval of their dean or director (or appropriate administrator) and the provost or senior vice president and chief business officer, depending upon the reporting structure, for participation for payment.
Non-credit teaching for direct pay is subject to the provisions of the university consulting policy, i.e., the total of non-credit teaching and other approved consulting does not ordinarily involve more than one day per week and does not exceed five days in any five-week period. For purposes of limitation of consulting, each day in which non-credit instruction is undertaken is counted as one day, unless the participation does not exceed one-half day (as defined below), in which case it is counted as one-half day. Because of the scheduling requirements of certain Continuing and Professional Education programs, exceptions to the limitation of five days of consultation in any five-week period may be approved as long as the maximum of 39 days in the academic year is not exceeded.
For direct payment purposes, a day is defined as six contact hours of non-credit instruction; pro rata payments are made for portions of days, usually in units of 1½ hours. For teleconferences involving televised delivery, a day is defined as three contact hours.
To encourage faculty to develop academically innovative programs with significant market potential, faculty may request preparation time as part of the program and budget development process. This additional faculty compensation for research and development may not exceed three days for each day of instruction.
Research and development time is associated with two types of programs. The first type is research and project development undertaken for a specific organization. As such, the payment of the research and project development is assured with the other program services under contract. The second type of program involves those programs offered on a solicitation basis to members of a specific audience. The generation of revenues for faculty research and development are included in participant fees. The actual amount and timing of the faculty payment depends on program success. The agreement is subject to approval by the department head, chair, or supervisor and director of program development.
If research and development initiatives are perceived by a contracting agency or department to be more extensive, the college has the option of providing additional compensation to faculty through college surplus funds or of buying their time in the summer. Such additional compensation beyond three days for each day of delivery requires the approval of the vice president for outreach and international affairs and the director of continuing education. Approval for such payment is required through the P14 payment process initiated by Continuing and Professional Education.
For a particular program, a daily payment rate is determined by agreement of program faculty in Continuing and Professional Education, the participating faculty member, and the faculty member’s department head, chair, or supervisor and is subject to the approval of the director of continuing and professional education. Such a negotiated rate may depend on the anticipated enrollment and the budgetary constraints of the program.
The provost may set a maximum applicable daily payment rate. The provost advises the Commission on Faculty Affairs of any changes in the maximum applicable daily payment rate if set.
Continuing and Professional Education is responsible for seeking approval for direct pay (P14) through the university and authorizing final payment. Such payments are made after teaching services are provided.
In addition to the constraints imposed by the consulting policy, there is a limitation on the aggregate amount of such direct payments that may be earned in a faculty member’s appointment year. Faculty members on calendar year appointments may earn no more than 33⅓ percent of their annual salary during the July 1 - June 30 appointment year. Faculty members on academic year appointments may earn no more than 33⅓ percent of their annual salary during the academic year. Payments made to academic year faculty members in the summer period will be included in the 33⅓ percent limitation of the previous academic year’s salary that is currently imposed on summer payment from all university sources combined.
Costs of producing materials for Continuing and Professional Education programs are borne by the program budget, not by the operating budgets of any unit except where provided for that specific purpose.
2.19.3 For-Credit Continuing and Professional Education Activities Overload Payment and Compensation
The university's mission and goals include increasing outreach, continuing and professional education, and distance learning activities to serve the workforce and professional development needs of business and industry, government, organizations, and individuals. Some professional audiences seek credit course work to meet their educational needs—not just a short term, non-credit experience such as workshops or seminars. In some cases, these audiences look to some of the university's most visible and distinguished faculty members to deliver this programming. Often such programming involves a contract with businesses or organizations, which covers the cost of course delivery, including faculty compensation. The programs are generally delivered off-campus, perhaps at the organization/business site or elsewhere, or via distance learning.
The following policy guidelines provide information regarding compensation for faculty members involved in delivering credit continuing and professional education. Credit programming designed for executive/professional audiences is included among programs eligible for additional faculty compensation; even if such programs are offered for individual enrollment rather than for employees of a specific corporation or agency; and even if course work is delivered at the faculty member’s home base.
Overload responsibilities undertaken for supplemental compensation may be assumed only when the intended task is clearly outside usual responsibilities of the individual, as determined by the appropriate department head, chair, or supervisor and academic dean; the conduct of the task is clearly in the best interest of the university; the individual is eminently qualified to undertake the task; and such an overload is included within the overall time limitations of the consulting policy.
Continuing projects, or projects occupying an identifiable amount of time longer than a semester or more, are arranged on a released-time basis. Prior approval by the department or chair and academic dean are required for all overload commitments undertaken for supplemental compensation.
Overload compensation may be approved in cases involving credit continuing and professional education where: the faculty member is required to travel away from home base to an off-campus location; or, the faculty member is delivering a program to students at one or more off-campus locations through distance learning technology, whether the instruction is delivered in a synchronous or asynchronous mode; or, the faculty member is delivering credit course work as part of an executive/professional program approved for overload compensation, even if the course is being delivered at the faculty member’s home base.
There should be no expectation that course work currently taught on-load, which requires a faculty member to travel to another location to teach, or for which the faculty member is delivering the program via distance learning technology, would automatically be considered for overload compensation. Determination of the faculty member’s assignment is the responsibility of the department head, chair, or supervisor and dean. Distance learning instruction and teaching at off-campus sites are appropriate on-load assignments which faculty members are expected to fulfill without additional compensation.
Faculty members are not required to accept overload assignments for credit continuing and professional education instructional activities.
Faculty compensation is determined as part of the budget development and contract negotiation process and may vary based on discipline, level of expertise, effort required, group size, number of credits, and other factors usually considered in setting compensation for continuing education instruction. P14 payments for credit continuing and professional education course work also require the approval of the vice provost for faculty affairs. Contracts with businesses, organizations, or other approved revenue sources are expected to cover the full cost of such faculty compensation.
The department head, chair, or supervisor is responsible for the fair and appropriate assignment of overload credit course work to faculty members in the department. To assure equity and appropriateness, the department head, chair, or supervisor, and dean monitor the responsibilities and assignments of faculty earning additional compensation.
Faculty members on calendar year appointments may earn up to an additional 33⅓ percent during the fiscal year, by teaching non-credit programs administered through the university; teaching an eligible credit continuing and professional education course on overload; and/or participation in a technical assistance agreement.
Similarly, faculty members on academic year appointments may earn up to an additional 33⅓ percent of their academic year salaries during the academic year through these approved activities. Earnings during the summer from all university sources, including those cited above, summer or winter session teaching, and sponsored research are capped at 33⅓ percent of the prior academic year salary.
The consulting policy sets the institutional maximum on the number of days that a faculty member can spend in approved, paid professional activity while on salary. All approved activity—consulting, technical assistance agreements, credit continuing and professional education course work, and non-credit continuing and professional education—must stay within the consulting policy guidelines of one day per week or no more than five days in a five-week period. Six contact hours constitute the equivalent of one consulting day.
Exceptions require the approval of the department head, chair, or supervisor, dean (or appropriate administrator), and provost or senior vice president and chief business officer, depending upon the reporting structure.
State law prohibits mandatory retirement on the basis of age alone. There is no mandatory retirement age for university faculty and staff.
Tenured faculty members (or those with continued appointment in University Libraries or Extension) who are at least 60 years of age and have at least 10-20 years of full-time service at Virginia Tech may be eligible for the university’s voluntary transitional retirement program. The program allows long-term faculty to remain actively involved in the life of the institution while reducing their professorial responsibilities as they transition towards full retirement. Further details of the program and eligibility requirements are provided in Policy 4410, “Voluntary Transitional Retirement Program for Tenured Faculty.”
Faculty members who wish to resign should give notice as far in advance as possible. Faculty members with instructional responsibilities are expected to provide notice of at least one full academic semester. The minimum acceptable notice for tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure-track instructional faculty members is three months.
In the cases of faculty members on temporary or restricted appointments for which there is no indicated opportunity for reappointment, the letter of appointment also serves as notice of the termination of employment. The appointment is discontinued unless notified otherwise.
Research faculty members are ordinarily on restricted appointments for a fixed period because of limitations of external funding. Reappointments may be possible if such funding is renewed, but should not be assumed.
The decision not to reappoint a faculty member on a regular appointment may stem from many factors beyond unsatisfactory service, such as modification of programmatic emphasis, enrollment trends, a change in the nature of the position, or simply the intention to seek an appointee with superior qualifications or stronger potential for professional development. Non-reappointment does not require establishment or documentation of just cause.
Notice of non-reappointment for faculty members on probationary term appointments is:
- First year of employment (one-year term appointment): February 9 of academic year or three months before end of employment year;
- Second year of employment: November 9 of the academic year or six months before end of employment year;
- Subsequent years: 12 months before end of employment year (May 9 for academic year appointments).
22.214.171.124 Notice of Non-Reappointment for Non-Tenure-Track Instructional Faculty on Regular Appointments
Notice of non-reappointment for non-tenure-track faculty members on regular appointments is:
- At least three months before the end of the current contract for those who have been in regular appointments for less than two years;
- At least one semester before the end of the current contract for those on academic year appointments (or six months for those on a calendar year appointment) for those who have been in regular appointments for two years up to five years;
- At least one year before the end of the current contract for those on regular appointments for five years or more (May 9 for academic year appointments).
Notice of non-reappointment for research faculty on regular appointments is:
- At least three months for those who have been in regular appointments for less than two years;
- At least six months for those who have been in regular appointments for two years or more;
- For those research faculty appointed to regular positions before March 2001, the notice of reappointment is 12 months.
126.96.36.199 Notice of Non-Reappointment for Administrative and Professional Faculty on Regular Appointments
Notice of non-reappointment for administrative and professional faculty on regular appointments is:
- At least three months before the expiration of an initial one-year appointment (for example, if the effective date of an initial one-year appointment was July 1, then written notice of non-reappointment must be made by March 31 for termination effective June 30);
- At least six months for administrative and professional faculty members who have been employed by the university for more than one year, but less than two years;
- At least 12 months for administrative and professional faculty members who have been at the university two years or more.
All personal property - tangible, intangible, electronic, or other personal property - is removed by close of business on the faculty member’s final day of employment at Virginia Tech. Unless prior approval is granted, the university is not responsible for keeping or maintaining personal property left by the faculty member. The university accepts no liability for lost, damaged, or destroyed personal property.
A departing faculty member may request permission to store personal property beyond the last day of employment. The following stipulations apply: the request to store personal property must be submitted prior to the last day of employment; such a request must be submitted to the department head, chair, or authorized supervisor, and the department head, chair, or authorized supervisor has absolute discretion in approving or denying the request.
Termination refers to the involuntary cessation of employment of a tenured or continued appointment faculty member or of a faculty member on a fixed-term appointment before the end of the term. Termination takes place only as dismissal for adequate cause or in the case of a reduction in force.
Furlough refers to the involuntary interruption of employment of a tenured or continued appointment faculty member or of a faculty member on a fixed-term appointment before the end of the term. This differs from termination in that it conveys an intention of the university to reappoint affected faculty members within some reasonable period if circumstances permit.
A reduction in force is the termination or interruption of employment of a member of the general faculty under conditions of financial exigency or program reduction. Reduction in personnel by attrition, freezes on new hiring, across-the-board reductions of salaries and/or teaching schedules, and the offering of incentives for early retirement, whether at the program level or institution-wide, are not considered reductions in force. Rather, they are lesser remedies that may be implemented before any reduction in force.
Denial of tenure to an untenured faculty member or non-renewal of appointment of an untenured faculty member on probationary appointment, or non-renewal of appointment of an untenured member of the administrative and professional faculty, where usual procedures have been affected in each instance, is not considered a termination within the meaning of this policy.
For the purpose of the procedures outlined below, seniority refers to the number of years served at this university by a member of the general faculty in tenured, tenure-track, or functionally equivalent positions. Service need not be continuous to contribute to an individual’s seniority. Years of service include those during which a faculty member is employed at least half-time. Years during which a faculty member is employed less than half-time will not count toward years of service for purposes of this section.
Reductions in force (RIF) may occur when financial conditions disallow the usual operation of programs. While the university has a right to initiate reductions in force, including those affecting tenured faculty, it is the policy of the university (to the extent consistent with the degree of financial exigency) to ensure that the rights of tenure or continued appointment are preserved; to ensure that the integrity of the university and its programs is preserved; to protect the contractual expectations of untenured faculty; to provide that the burden of corrective action is shared by the various categories of personnel of the university, including all members of the general faculty; and to ensure that any reductions that do occur follow an orderly and predictable process.
A financial exigency is an imminent financial crisis that threatens the survival of the university and that cannot be alleviated by ordinary budgeting practices. Reductions in force in response to conditions of financial exigency are determined and implemented as follows:
Declaration of a state of financial exigency: Should the president determine that so extraordinary a circumstance has arisen or is anticipated that it might be necessary to terminate or interrupt the appointments of faculty members, the president may declare a state of exigency. Upon such declaration, the president forms an ad hoc committee to review the budgetary situation and the president’s plan for addressing it.
Committee review: The ad hoc committee is comprised of no fewer than nine members, a majority of whom are faculty members nominated by the Faculty Senate. This includes at least one representative from each college. Where a RIF may affect the University Libraries or Extension faculty, at least one representative from that faculty should also be selected to serve on the committee. Any person who resigns from or otherwise discontinues service on the committee is replaced by a new member chosen in the same manner as was the individual being replaced, and such replacement members are so selected that each college and, where appropriate, the University Libraries or Extension faculty retain at least one representative. Within the constraints of time and circumstance, the committee reviews the proposal submitted by the president and any alternative remedies that are available, and recommends to the president a plan of action that may incorporate reductions in force of the administrative and support staff as well as the general faculty. The committee is charged with protecting both academic freedom and, insofar as circumstances permit, the presumption of continuous employment that tenure or continued appointment bestows, and considers as well the curricular needs and goals of the university and the effects of any anticipated actions on the future financial well-being of the institution.
Determination of policy: After receiving the recommendations of the ad hoc committee, the president determines the response of the university to the declared state of exigency. If the president’s decision is substantially at variance with the recommendations of the committee with specific regard to the implementation of RIFs, the committee may, by majority vote, appeal the president’s actions to the Board of Visitors. In all other matters, and in cases where the president’s decision to carry out a reduction in force accords with the recommendations of the ad hoc committee, no such appeal is available. The ad hoc committee consults with the president and receives periodic reports until the state of exigency ends and the committee determines that the obligations of the university to furloughed or terminated faculty are met.
Implementation: Reductions in force are implemented either within specified programs or across the institution. Whenever a RIF is undertaken, it is guided by the following considerations. Insofar as circumstances permit, all temporary or part-time faculty members and those not holding tenured or tenure-track appointments or their functional equivalent are retained through the then-existing term of appointment. Insofar as circumstances permit, untenured faculty holding tenure-track appointments and University Libraries and other faculty holding probationary appointments are retained through the then-existing term of appointment. No tenure-track or functionally equivalent appointment is terminated or interrupted unless and until all appropriate temporary appointments are terminated. Where reductions in force of these personnel are required, they are implemented in ascending order of rank and of seniority within rank. Whenever possible, the university provides notice of furlough or termination equivalent to that for non-reappointment schedule as set forth in chapter two, “Non-Reappointment.” Except in the most extraordinary circumstances, all tenured faculty and those on continued appointment retain their positions. Where reductions in force of tenured or continued appointment personnel are required, they are implemented in ascending order of rank and of seniority within rank. Whenever possible, the university provides at least one year’s notice of furlough or termination.
Notification: The university provides written notification to all faculty affected by a RIF including: (a) a statement of the basis for its action, (b) a description of the manner in which the decision in question was reached, (c) a disclosure of the information and data on which the decision makers relied, (d) information regarding reappointment rights and process, and (e) information regarding procedures available for appealing the decision.
Appeals: The decision to furlough or terminate a member of the general faculty because of a reduction in force may be appealed in two ways. The affected individual may appeal through the grievance procedure specified in the relevant section of the Faculty Handbook. After consulting with the appropriate dean and an elected committee of faculty members from the affected program, the principal administrative officer of a program may appeal individual RIF decisions to the provost on programmatic grounds. Reductions in force of no more than one-quarter of the affected faculty in any program may be appealed in this manner.
Replacement and reappointment: The university recognizes its obligation to reappoint personnel furloughed or terminated through a RIF insofar as circumstances permit within a reasonable period following such action. Accordingly, temporary personnel cannot replace a probationary term faculty member who has been furloughed or terminated through a reduction in force for a period of three years following that action. Similarly, temporary or probationary term personnel cannot replace a tenured or continued appointment faculty member who has been furloughed or terminated through a reduction in force for a period of five years following that action.
Rather, affected members of the general faculty are granted first refusal of re-established positions for which they are qualified, with positions offered in descending order of rank and seniority within rank whenever the number of qualified personnel exceeds the number of available positions. The university attempts to identify funds to enable the university to extend to affected faculty during these periods of three and five years, respectively, all health insurance benefits for which they would otherwise have qualified. On reaching age 70, or on declining at least one offer of employment in a position equivalent in tenure status, salary, and teaching load (as adjusted to reflect post-RIF department changes) to that which was terminated, each faculty member affected by a reduction in force forfeits all protections afforded by this paragraph.
For purposes of providing insurance benefits and implementing these reappointment procedures, the provost keeps the curriculum vitae and current address of each terminated or furloughed faculty member. Terminated or furloughed faculty have an obligation to maintain the accuracy and timeliness of these records; the failure to do so results in forfeiture of the protections afforded by this paragraph.
Ordinarily, change to academic programs within the university is planned so that the appointments of faculty members are not compromised. Such changes are considered part of the ongoing evolution of academic programs and are subject to the usual procedures established by the colleges, relevant commissions, and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
However, when extraordinary circumstances require more rapid change, it may be necessary to restructure or discontinue programs or departments in a way that leads to involuntary terminations or other alterations of appointments of faculty members with tenure or continued appointment. In such circumstances, the policy in this section applies.
Any decision to restructure or discontinue academic programs in a way that alters faculty appointments is a university-wide responsibility and should be made to support the educational mission of the university as a whole. In all such circumstances, early and meaningful faculty participation is essential and fundamental to the process outlined in this policy.
The restructuring or discontinuing of one or more academic programs with the potential to invoke this policy may be initiated by the provost or president, by the college deans, by the college faculties, or by an appropriately charged commission. If the provost determines that such restructuring or discontinuing of academic programs should be considered, a Steering Committee for Academic Restructuring, hereinafter referred to as the steering committee, is appointed as described below. The purpose of the steering committee is to evaluate and coordinate the proposed restructuring effort, and to ensure that the procedures in this section are followed.
The steering committee is composed of nine members determined jointly by the provost and the president of the Faculty Senate: two faculty members selected from the membership of the Commission on Faculty Affairs; two faculty members selected from the membership of the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies; two faculty members selected from the membership of the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies; one faculty member selected from the University Advisory Council on Strategic Budgeting and Planning; one member selected from nominations by the Faculty Senate; and the provost, or an administrative designee.
The steering committee elects a chair by vote of all members of the committee. The steering committee composition is intended to ensure that the expertise and perspectives of the relevant commissions are incorporated in the deliberations.
The provost initiates discussion of a proposed program restructuring or discontinuance with the steering committee, describing the need for the change, the proposed type and scope of restructuring effort, the educational rationale for the change, and an explanation of how it is consistent with the long-term goals of the university. If after these preliminary discussions and upon considering the advice of the steering committee, the provost decides to proceed, the provost prepares a more detailed proposal including identification of programs to be restructured or discontinued (or how they will be identified); timelines for development of specific plans by the affected programs and for the restructuring effort as a whole; and the estimated impact on the affected faculty, staff, and students, and on the university as a whole. If a budget reduction is involved, then reduction targets for any affected unit(s) must be included in the draft proposal.
The steering committee reviews the draft proposal and makes recommendations to the provost either to proceed with the proposal as written or with modifications, or to return it as insufficiently justified. The steering committee shares its recommendations with the university community.
The provost considers the steering committee's recommendations and makes every effort to develop a plan acceptable to the steering committee. If the provost decides to proceed, direction is given to the relevant dean(s) to prepare specific plans for the affected programs, based on guidelines in the following section. These plans identify which specific programs are to be reduced or eliminated; how the faculty, staff, and students will be affected; and how the rights, interests, and privileges of the faculty and staff members will be protected. If a budget reduction is involved, the specific plan must describe how the reduction targets will be met.
Under specific circumstances approved in advance by the provost and president, the Alternative Severance Option may be available to deans for meeting reduction targets.
The deans submit specific plans to the provost, who reconvenes the steering committee to oversee the review and comment process. All specific plans are made available to the university community for comment for a period of not less than three weeks. The relevant commissions (including the commissions on Staff Policies and Affairs and Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs if such employees are affected) are also asked to review and comment on the plans. The steering committee receives all comments and makes recommendations to the provost; these recommendations are also shared with the university community at large. The president and Board of Visitors have final authority to approve and implement all plans. Notification to affected faculty does not proceed until final approval is given.
Guidelines for development of college plans: The relevant deans should develop specific plans by involving the faculty at all levels of decision-making. Staff members should be involved as appropriate.
College-level planning for programmatic reductions follows the guidance and intent of the plan reviewed by the steering committee and approved by the provost. For the purpose of developing the specific plans, an academic program should meet one or more of the following criteria: (a) “program” as part of its title, (b) grants a degree or a credential, (c) has a sequence of courses with a common prefix, or, (d) is identified as an academic program in official university documents. A program is generally smaller than a department and must be larger than the activities of a single faculty member.
If restructuring requires the termination of faculty members, then the following guidelines must be followed. When programs are identified for restructuring or discontinuance, all faculty assigned to the program, both tenured and untenured, are potentially subject to reassignment or termination. Within programs identified for restructuring or discontinuance, tenured faculty must not ordinarily be terminated before untenured faculty. Termination decisions within the tenured faculty as a group or within the untenured faculty as a group should be based on rank and merit. Faculty members on restricted or temporary appointments should be terminated before faculty members on regular appointments. The number of involuntary terminations of tenured faculty members should be minimized by providing incentives for resignation, retirement, or reassignment.
Minimum responsibilities to individual faculty members: The university recognizes its responsibility to faculty members if this policy is implemented. All plans to restructure academic programs guarantee the following to individual faculty members:
Notice of termination: Faculty members with tenure or continued appointment whose positions are eliminated as part of restructuring are given notice of not less than three years. Administrative and professional faculty members on regular appointment shall be given at least 90 days’ notice. All other faculty members shall complete their current contracts or be given a one-year notice whichever is less. In particular, notice of termination longer than the minimum specified above may be given to particular faculty members whose expertise is essential to closing out an academic program in which students are enrolled.
Written notification: After final approval has been given for specific plans, written notification is provided to all faculty members whose appointments will be terminated or altered. The notification shall include a statement of the basis for its action, a description of the manner in which the decision was reached, a disclosure of the information and data on which the decision was based, and information regarding procedures available for appealing the decision.
Transition assistance: Every effort is made to place affected faculty members with tenure or continued appointment in available openings in the university or to reassign them to continuing programs. Transition assistance may include training to qualify for placement in a related field if desired and appropriate. Where placement in another position is not possible, the university provides appropriate and reasonable career transition assistance such as clerical support, communications, office space, and outplacement services.
Reappointment: In all cases of termination of appointment because of program reduction or discontinuance, the position of a faculty member with tenure or continued appointment cannot be filled by a replacement within a period of three years following separation unless the released faculty member was first offered reinstatement and a reasonable time in which to accept or decline.
Appeals: A faculty member whose appointment is terminated or altered due to program reduction or discontinuance may file a grievance as outlined in the relevant section of the Faculty Handbook. Grounds for appeal may be substantial failure to follow the procedures and standards set forth in this section. Because faculty members, through the steering committee, are involved in the review and development of recommendations guiding the restructuring or discontinuance, the determination of which programs or departments are affected cannot be a basis for appeal.
The university provides severance benefits for eligible faculty who are involuntarily separated due to budget reduction, agency reorganizations, or workforce downsizings for reasons unrelated to performance or conduct. Faculty hired on restricted appointments funded from sponsored contracts or grants, or term (fixed-period) appointments with a specified ending date, regardless of funding source, are not eligible to receive severance benefits. In cases where employees are non-reappointed or voluntarily resign, these actions are not deemed “involuntary separation” for purposes of the severance policy.
Under specific circumstances approved in advance by the provost and president, an Alternative Severance Option (ASO) may be available to eligible faculty. Severance of faculty members with tenure or continued appointment must be voluntary; no tenured faculty member can be required to participate. Tenure-track and continued appointment-track faculty members are not eligible, nor are restricted employees.
The premise for any severance payment rests on the rationale of business necessity to reduce personnel expenses. When such a situation occurs, deans and senior managers will be asked to define the business operations, academic programs, departments, or units where personnel reductions will occur. An approved business plan for each participating college or vice presidential area will describe the specific units and eligibility criteria for participation in the ASO or layoff substitution process. These plans will necessarily differ. Some college and senior management do not offer the ASO as a means to reach their budget reduction targets. Not all employees who are eligible will be selected to participate if more apply than are needed to address the reductions or if an individual employee serves a critical function. Eligible employees in units with approved business plans are notified if the option is available to them.
The faculty of Virginia Tech believe that academic freedom is essential to attain our missions as scholars and teachers. We also recognize and accept the responsibilities attendant to academic freedom as fundamental to a scholarly community. We believe we must exercise our rights with due regard to the rights of others and we must meet our obligations fully as faculty members. We hold ourselves accountable to ensure that the faculty of Virginia Tech is recognized for its commitment and leadership to pursue knowledge, to promote the free expression of ideas, to teach our students, and to serve the citizens of Virginia.
Scholarship: Guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, we recognize our primary responsibility to our disciplines is to seek and to state the truth. To this end, we devote our energies to developing and improving our scholarly competence. We accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. We practice intellectual honesty and do not compromise our freedom of inquiry. At Virginia Tech, self-plagiarism is considered unethical behavior. Self-plagiarism occurs when authors reuse substantial parts of their own published work as new without providing appropriate references to the previous work if this reuse deviates materially from standard practice in the field.
Students: We encourage the free pursuit of learning in our students and exemplify the best scholarly and ethical standards of our disciplines. We value and promote differences among students and respect students as individuals and serve as their intellectual guides and counselors. We make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that our evaluations of students reflect each student's true merit. We respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professors and students. We avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students and acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from students. We do not engage in any romantic or sexual relationships with students whom we are in a position to evaluate by virtue of our teaching, research, or administrative responsibilities.
Instruction: We strive to be fair, compassionate, and effective teachers. We prepare classes adequately, present materials fairly, and make ourselves available to students for consultation and advice. We avoid bias and we respect diverse points of view.
Colleagues: We accept our obligations that derive from common membership in the faculty of Virginia Tech. We relate to colleagues and other university personnel in a responsible, professional, and civil manner, avoiding behaviors and actions that purposefully, consistently, and unnecessarily tend to disrupt, impede, harass, or abuse them in the performance of their assigned tasks and professional duties. We do not discriminate against colleagues, nor do we engage in romantic or sexual relationships with employees whom we are in a position to supervise or evaluate. We respect and defend free inquiry by all. In the exchange of criticisms and ideas, we show respect for the opinions of others, acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance, and strive to be open-minded and fair in our professional judgments. We accept our share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of Virginia Tech and take due care in the discharge of those responsibilities.
University: We seek above all to be effective in our assigned responsibilities. We give paramount importance to these responsibilities in determining the amount and character of work done outside of Virginia Tech. Although we observe the Faculty Handbook, we maintain our right to criticize and seek revision of university policy.
Community: As members of the larger community, we have the same rights and obligations as other citizens. We measure the importance of these rights and obligations in light of our responsibilities to our disciplines, to our professions, to our students, and to Virginia Tech. When we speak or act as private persons, we avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for Virginia Tech. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its welfare and integrity, we have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and of further public understanding of academic freedom.
The Committee on Faculty Ethics (CFE) receives, investigates, and considers allegations of unprofessional or unethical conduct for all types of faculty members, except administrative and professional faculty members. See chapter one, “Committee on Faculty Ethics,” for further information on the committee charge, membership, and procedures. If the committee finds a serious breach of ethical conduct that leads to a recommendation for a severe sanction or dismissal for cause, the procedures in chapters three, four, and fourteen “Imposition of a Severe Sanction or Dismissal for Cause,” are followed in implementing such sanctions.
When the allegation is against an administrative or professional (A/P) faculty member without tenure or continued appointment, a special panel of five administrative or professional faculty members is selected to review the charges and hear the case, if appropriate. The chair of the Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs (CAPFA) chooses panel members from among the A/P faculty at large. The CAPFA chair may invite an experienced member of the CFE to serve as a non-voting member of the panel. All potential members must disclose possible conflicts of interest concerning their participation in the case.
The Virginia Tech Principles of Community state: Virginia Tech is a public land-grant university, committed to teaching and learning, research, and outreach to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. Learning from the experiences that shape Virginia Tech as an institution, we acknowledge those aspects of our legacy that reflected bias and exclusion. Therefore, we adopt and practice the following principles as fundamental to our ongoing efforts to increase access and inclusion and to create a community that nurtures learning and growth for all of its members:
We affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding.
We affirm the right of each person to express thoughts and opinions freely. We encourage open expression within a climate of civility, sensitivity, and mutual respect.
We affirm the value of human diversity because it enriches our lives and the university. We acknowledge and respect our differences while affirming our common humanity.
We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including those based on age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and military status.
We take individual and collective responsibility for helping to eliminate bias and discrimination and for increasing our own understanding of these issues through education, training, and interaction with others.
We pledge our collective commitment to these principles in the spirit of the Virginia Tech motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
Each employee makes an important contribution to the overall success of Virginia Tech by performing job responsibilities in accordance with university policies and procedures. The university’s business standards provide a strong foundation of business practices to support the core missions of learning, discovery, and engagement. These standards are described in the statement of business conduct standards available on the Financial Management website.
All employees are expected to ensure that business activities are conducted properly and in compliance with various federal and state laws. Many important procedures are located on the websites of the Controller's Office, Procurement Department, Human Resources, and in university policies. The websites are updated as policies change.
The university is committed to ensuring the safety and security of employees, students, visitors, and volunteers. Employees are responsible for compliance with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations and should make every effort to maintain a safe and healthy working environment. In the interest of promoting a safe and secure working, learning, and living environment for employees, students, and visitors, the university developed, “University Safety and Security.” As part of a larger and institution-wide commitment to a safe and secure campus, the university established offices specifically charged with security and safety responsibilities, created a committee structure, the University Safety and Security Policy Committee, to provide general oversight and leadership for the university’s security, safety, and violence prevention efforts, and lists responsibilities for department head, chair, and individuals in supervisory roles.
The university’s commitment to preventing campus and workplace violence is specified in Policy 5616, “Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Policy.” The policy lists prohibited conduct and sanctions for any policy violations, and prohibits carrying, maintaining, or storing a firearm, ammunition, or weapon on any university facility and for all events on campus where people congregate in any public or outdoor areas, even if the owner has a valid permit, when it is not required by the individual’s job or in accordance with the relevant university policies for student life.
The policy also describes prevention, risk assessment, and response practices implemented, such as establishment of a Campus and Workplace Violence Prevention Committee, and a Threat Assessment Team, and appropriate procedures for incident reporting.
Policy 1005, “Health and Safety Policy,” describes the university’s commitment to a healthy and safe campus and documents roles and responsibilities to help prevent accidents, illnesses and injuries; increase safety awareness; meet requirements of environmental, occupational health, and safety laws and regulations; reduce institutional liability; and establish safety responsibilities for members of the university community and visitors to university-owned or occupied property.
The university strives to provide a workplace where all employees, students, visitors, and volunteers are treated with dignity and respect. Policy 1025, “Policy on Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Assault” affirms the university’s commitment of prohibition against discrimination and harassment at all levels and areas of university operations and programs. Policy 1026 “Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment and Responsible Employee Reporting” outline processes for sexual assault and harassment.
As an academic community, Virginia Tech values the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and does not intend to restrict the exercise of these rights. However, all members of the university community are responsible for respecting conditions that preserve the freedom to learn. Protected activities do not violate university policy unless they interfere with university functions, violate the rights of others, or otherwise break the law. The appropriate supervisor or administrator is responsible for addressing offensive behavior that does not violate the non-discrimination/harassment prevention policy.
It is also a violation of policy to retaliate against any party for participating in a discrimination/harassment investigation (“protected activity”). Retaliation includes any adverse treatment that is reasonably likely to deter the complainant or others from filing a charge of discrimination/harassment or participating in a discrimination/harassment investigation. Retaliation can be verbal, written, graphic, electronic, or physical.
It should be understood by all members of the university community that consensual amorous or sexual relationships (hereinafter referred to as consensual relationships) that occur in the context of educational or employment supervision and evaluation present serious ethical concerns. Consensual relationships between faculty and students enrolled in their classes or students for whom they have professional responsibility as advisor or supervisor violate the policy on professional ethics and responsibilities and may be a violation of non-discrimination/harassment prevention policies. Similarly, consensual relationships between supervisors and employees they directly supervise violate university policy. Faculty members or others performing instructional or academic advising duties and supervisors involved in consensual relationships must remove themselves from any activity or evaluation that may reward or penalize the affected student or employee.
Consensual relationships between faculty and students are particularly susceptible to exploitation. The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor in giving praise or blame, grades, recommendations for further study and future employment, make voluntary consent by the student suspect, given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship.
Faculty and supervisors should be aware that engaging in consensual relationships with students or employees they supervise could make them liable for formal action. Even when both parties have consented to the development of such a relationship, it is the faculty member or supervisor who, by virtue of one’s special responsibility, may be held accountable for unprofessional behavior. Complaints alleging discrimination/harassment, as defined above, may be filed by either party to the consensual relationship or by an aggrieved party outside the relationship.
University administrators, supervisors, and those performing instructional or academic advising duties have an added responsibility to create and maintain a work and learning environment free of discrimination/harassment.
If an administrator, supervisor, or individual with instructional responsibility becomes aware of an incident that might reasonably be construed as constituting discrimination/harassment, he or she must take immediate steps to address the matter. In such cases, the administrator, supervisor, or individual with instructional responsibility should promptly contact the Office for Equity and Accessibility to coordinate any further action that may be necessary.
Administrators, supervisors, and those with instructional responsibility should act whenever they learn - directly or indirectly - about discrimination/harassment. This obligation exists even if the complainant requests that no action be taken. It is not the responsibility of the complainant to correct the situation.
Administrators, supervisors, and those with instructional responsibility (for their respective teaching obligation) have the legal responsibility to protect a complainant from continued discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. They must also protect persons accused of discrimination/harassment from potential damage by false allegations. Administrators and supervisors will be held accountable for dealing with and taking necessary steps to prevent discrimination/harassment.
Administrators and supervisors are responsible for informing employees and students under their supervision of this policy and providing the name and contact information of the person responsible for addressing harassment/discrimination complaints covered under Policy 1025 and Policy 1026.
For additional information, including procedures to follow when concerns or questions about discrimination/harassment arise, contact the Associate Vice President for Equity and Accessibility.
An individual can file a discrimination or harassment complaint, including Title IX, by contacting the Associate Vice President for Equity and Accessibility, Virginia Tech, North End Center, 300 Turner St., Blacksburg, VA 24061, Phone: (540) 231-2010.
We encourage victims of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, and dating and domestic violence, to exercise their right to file a complaint with the Virginia Tech Police Department if the crime occurs on Virginia Tech’s property, regardless of the status of the complainant. For crimes occurring away from Virginia Tech’s property, victims may contact the local law enforcement in the appropriate jurisdiction.
The university recognizes that consulting work for external entities enhances the professional development of faculty members and provides channels for communication and outreach not otherwise available. For complete and updated information and forms consult the Conflict of Interest website maintained by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.
This policy differentiates between external consulting and professional service activities as follows:
External consulting is professional activity related to an individual’s area of expertise, where that individual generally receives compensation from a third party and is not acting as an agent of the university. Consulting may take many forms, but the guiding principle is that, in consulting, a person agrees to use his or her professional capabilities to further the agenda of a third party in return for an immediate or prospective gain. Even in cases without compensation, advance approval is required to document the proposed external activities and to ensure they do not constitute a conflict of commitment, or a conflict of interest where gifts of equipment or donations to the faculty member’s laboratory may substitute for direct compensation. Provisions of the consulting policy also apply to external activities where the faculty member has a direct relationship to the external entity, such as personal or family ownership of the company. Consulting does not involve becoming an employee of the external entity.
Professional service includes service on national commissions, on boards of governmental agencies, on granting agency peer review panels, on visiting committees or advisory groups to other universities, on professional associations, and on analogous bodies. Professional service activities may involve a token honorarium and/or expense reimbursement. These activities are considered part of the faculty member’s institutional responsibilities for participation in the larger scholarly academic community. Participation in external professional service activities may require supervisor approval depending on departmental practice and expectations of the position. Annual leave is not required.
Consulting arrangements may be entered into by faculty members during periods of university employment provided that such advice is not part of their usual responsibility to the university and is not usually provided through Virginia Cooperative Extension, outreach programs, or other component of the university; the work undertaken contributes to their professional development; the work can be accomplished without interference with their assigned duties and does not ordinarily involve more than one day per week and does not exceed five days in any five-week period; university resources and facilities are not involved (except as described in Policy 5000, “University Facilities Usage and Events,” and in chapter two, “Use of University Facilities”).
All consulting activities, including those that do not exceed five days in any five-week period must be documented with written approval in advance is obtained from the faculty member’s department head, chair, or supervisor, and dean or senior manager.
Faculty members must disclose and receive approval for all consulting activities including activities that occur within the one-day per week through five-days per five-week period. Department head, chair, or supervisor approval is documented using the Disclosure and Management System on the website of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.
Faculty members whose appointments are funded in whole or in part by sponsored projects may participate in consulting when consistent with their responsibilities and in compliance with federal contract compliance and state regulations. University time available for consulting is in proportion to base salary funding from non-sponsored sources. With supervisor approval, additional consulting days may be charged to annual leave.
Consulting work should involve advisory services based on a faculty member's store of knowledge and experience in contrast to programs of research, development, or testing, which may interfere with the performance of the faculty member's duties or conflict with university interests.
In any faculty consulting arrangement, the name of the university must not be used in connection with any product or service developed as a result of such consulting nor in any connection arising out of the arrangement.
Paid consulting by faculty members is not permitted for work done for a group within the university. For example, if a faculty member advises or assists the principal investigator on a grant, there shall be no pay for the services. Such consulting is considered part of the usual duties of faculty members. Faculty members may be paid for participation in non-credit instruction offered through appropriate university units, such as Continuing and Professional Education or University Organizational and Professional Development, in accordance with overload payment policies in chapter two of the Faculty Handbook.
When a faculty member testifies as an expert witness, the following conditions apply: a disclaimer is given in court indicating that the faculty member is speaking as a professional and not as a representative of the university; when a faculty member is under subpoena, the university civil leave policies apply; and a faculty member may not testify in civil suits involving the Commonwealth of Virginia, except under subpoena.
Virginia Cooperative Extension employees should also be aware of specific policies covering faculty having federal appointments. (These appear in chapters four and seven, “Consulting Activities for Virginia Cooperative Extension Faculty.”)
Faculty members intending to do consulting work should read Policy 5000, “University Facilities Usage and Event Approval.” Except under the provisions specified in that policy, faculty members are not allowed to use university resources in conjunction with consulting or otherwise for private gain. This includes the parallel use of university facilities associated with consulting activities; i.e., when a faculty member is engaged in authorized consulting activities, the consulting employer may not enter into an agreement to use university resources for any purpose related to the consulting activity. Instead, when significant resources of the university are required, the employer may request that an agreement, grant, or contract be drawn with the university that provides the necessary services, including Human Resources. The faculty members then carry out duties attendant on the agreement as part of their assigned university duties. Because University Libraries facilities are made available to the public, their use in consulting is not regarded as being in contravention of this policy.
Because of the university’s land-grant mission, it may be in the best interest of the university to impose some additional restrictions on the consulting activity of the faculty of one or more of the colleges. Therefore, an academic dean, after consulting with his or her faculty, may recommend to the provost that the faculty of that college need to satisfy additional requirements for consulting approval. The provost, after consulting with the Commission on Faculty Affairs, and with the approval of the president and the Board of Visitors, may require that the faculty of the affected college satisfy such additional requirements.
Oversight of faculty consulting is a responsibility of the department head, chair, or supervisor and other relevant administrative officers of the university so that a reasonable and appropriate level of external activities is maintained and usual duties are not neglected.
A consulting request must be approved by the department head, chair, or supervisor and dean and submitted through the Disclosure and Management System available on the website maintained by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.
Approval of consulting or other external activities for faculty members holding nine-month appointments is not necessary during the summer unless there is concern about conflict of interest, or the university employs the faculty member during the consulting period. When the university employs the faculty member in the summer months, university and college consulting policies apply.
Setting the consulting fee is the prerogative of the faculty member. The actual or estimated consulting income is reported on the request form to allow reviewers a full assessment of potential financial conflict of interest. Income received for consulting work is not considered when faculty members are evaluated for annual merit salary increases.
Consulting agreements may be negotiated by the individual faculty member and the sponsoring organization, not involving university participation in any way, or they may be negotiated as part of a technical assistance agreement through the university. The technical assistance program was created as part of the university’s outreach mission to respond to requests from business and industry for the application of knowledge to a specific process-related or technical situation.
Proposals for technical assistance are small scale (generally less than $25,000), short-term, require a rapid response, and do not involve the generation of new knowledge or the development of intellectual property. (Projects involving the generation of knowledge and/or faculty buyouts must be handled as sponsored projects.) Continuing and Professional Education negotiates and administers contracts for technical assistance.
Technical assistance contracts typically identify the faculty member who will provide the needed expertise, the amount of time to be devoted to the project, the scope and estimated cost of the work, timelines for the consulting or project, and any required deliverables.
Payment to the faculty member for such consulting is negotiable and provided through university payroll. Faculty earnings for technical assistance agreements must be within the overall limitation of 33⅓ percent of annual income during the academic year for nine-month faculty members; summer earnings from all university sources are also capped at an additional 33⅓ percent for academic year faculty members. Faculty members on calendar year appointments may earn 33⅓ percent of annual income during the fiscal year. The earnings limitation is for payments from all university sources, including approved non-credit continuing education activities. Similarly, total time involved in technical assistance, other approved consulting, and non-credit teaching must be within the constraints of this policy.
For further information on technical assistance agreements, please contact Continuing and Professional Education. A technical assistance agreement, completed and approved by the department head, chair, or supervisor and dean, substitutes for approval of a Request to Engage in External Activity Form 13010 usually required for approval of consulting.
Prior approval of the supervisor and relevant university official is required for outside employment that does not meet the definition or intent of the consulting policy. Approval is contingent on assurance that the primary commitment to Virginia Tech will be fulfilled and that the proposed employment does not constitute a conflict of interest. Release time from university work is not usually available for paid activities that are primarily personal in nature, do not enhance the faculty member’s professional skills, or that are not a potential benefit to the university. The faculty member must use pre-approved leave (or leave without pay) in cases where outside personal work creates a potential conflict with university responsibilities.
A conflict of commitment arises when the external activities of a faculty member are so demanding of time, attention, or focus that they interfere with the individual's responsibilities to the university.
Faculty members have traditionally been allowed wide latitude in defining their professional agendas and their degree of involvement in external activities when those activities advance the mission or prestige of the university. The university encourages active participation by faculty members in external activities that are integral to and/or enhance their professional skills and standing or that constitute substantive outreach and public service activities.
Such activities are usually expected of faculty members to promote academic development, and to enrich their contributions to the institution, their profession, the state, and the national and world societies. Additionally, Virginia Tech encourages entrepreneurial activities by faculty, recognizing that such activities are critical to promoting economic development and meeting society’s needs, provided that participation in those activities is in compliance with federal and state laws and policies, the Virginia Tech conflict of interest policy, and these guidelines.
Faculty members should make the fulfillment of their responsibilities to the university the focal point of their professional effort. They are expected to arrange their external activities so that they do not impede or compromise their university duties and responsibilities. Responsibility for ensuring commitment to the university and for reporting activities that might be perceived as compromising that commitment rests with each faculty member in consultation with their unit administrator (typically the department head or chair, or supervisor) and dean.
The university recognizes that the balance of external activities varies among individuals, from discipline to discipline, and from one type of proposed activity to another. That balance is affected by unit goals and changing needs for teaching, research, creative/artistic activities, Extension, service, and outreach. Primary duties and responsibilities may vary from year to year for individual faculty members. Undergraduate and graduate enrollment demands, faculty-staffing levels, and changes in the nature and scope of outreach, teaching, and research within the unit may affect the primary duties and responsibilities of individual faculty. The primary judgment as to whether a faculty member is meeting his or her professional responsibilities to the unit rests with the department head, chair, or supervisor and dean (or relevant senior manager).
If a faculty member is committed to engaging in an external activity that compromises his or her ability to meet university responsibilities, a leave of absence or a reduction in percent employment may be appropriate or necessary. Approval of a leave request or change in appointment depends on the needs of the college and unit and protection of university interests.
If a unit administrator, or dean, observes that a faculty member appears not to be fulfilling his or her primary responsibilities to the university, the administrator shall immediately address these concerns with the faculty member to ensure that these responsibilities are adequately met. Failure to meet primary departmental and university obligations is handled through established university procedures appropriate to the situation (for example, formal reprimand, non-reappointment, post-tenure review, or dismissal for cause).
Nothing in this policy statement shall be interpreted as interfering with the academic freedom of faculty members, nor with their primary responsibility to direct their own research.
Please consult Policy 13010, “Individual Conflicts of Interest and Commitment.” Virginia Tech recognizes that external activities congruent with the professional expertise of faculty and staff consistent with the mission of the affiliated department can enhance professional development of the employee and enrich the academic experiences of students. Activities such as licensing of technology, consulting, or business start-ups can be critical to promoting economic development and meeting society's needs. Given these potential benefits, Virginia Tech encourages innovation and entrepreneurial activity in support of the broad missions of the institution. However, the primary professional allegiance of the employee must be, both in fact and in perception, to the university, and the primary commitment of the employee’s time and intellectual energies must be devoted to the education, research/scholarship, administration, and outreach programs of Virginia Tech. While external activities are encouraged, the integrity of the institution and of the research conducted by individual faculty, staff, and students depends on a high degree of transparency and appropriate oversight of relationships with outside entities. Elimination or careful management of disclosed potential conflicts of interest provides assurance to research sponsors, subjects, and the broader public that possible personal gain has not influenced the design, conduct, or outcomes of the research, nor inappropriately biased decision making in other university activities. Policy 13010 provides the basic framework for assessing potential conflicts of interest or commitment and outlines related procedures for the management and monitoring of external activities in a manner that promotes and safeguards the interests and reputation of Virginia Tech, its faculty, staff, and students, and their research and other university activities.
All faculty members must be committed to conducting themselves in accordance with the highest standards of integrity and ethics, described in “Professional Responsibilities and Conduct” in the Faculty Handbook as well as in other university policies, including Policy 13010. These standards also include identification and disclosure of the potential for conflicts of interest and commitment, and the assurance that participation in external activities does not improperly affect the faculty member’s teaching and research, relationships with students or colleagues, or otherwise jeopardize the reputation of the university. While this policy refers to “faculty,” its provisions apply to all employees, including all types of faculty, staff, or employed students, whether full- or part-time. Issues of conflict of interest and commitment are also addressed in the university’s Statement of Business Conduct Standards located on the Financial Management website (link). All employees must acknowledge receipt of the statement and agree to abide by the standards. For examples of potential conflicts of interest visit the Conflict of Interest website.
An individual conflict of interest occurs when an employee is in a position to advance one’s own interests or that of one’s family or others to the detriment of the university. Conflict of interest can arise in various situations including, but not limited to: research and development contracts or commercialization of intellectual property; spouses and immediate family members; students and post-doctoral or other trainees; other university employees; faculty authored instructional materials; and procurement-related conflicts and gifts to employees.
As a matter of state law, employees must avoid being in a position of authority over a spouse or a member of the immediate family who is also employed by the university where the spouse or family member earns $5,000 or more during a fiscal year. An employee and his or her spouse or another member of the immediate family may both be employed by the university so long as the employee does not exercise any control over the employment conditions and activities (such as initial appointment, retention, promotion, tenure, salary, travel approval, leave of absence, or grievance review) of the spouse (or immediate family member) and is not in a position to influence those activities. Proposed exceptions and alternate reporting relationships are reviewed and approved by the senior vice president and provost (or relevant vice president for a non-academic appointment) prior to submission to the Board of Visitors for approval.
Faculty members have a responsibility to avoid potential conflicts of interest between their professional responsibilities in teaching, research, or administration and their personal interests in relationship to students who are also family members. The concern is assuring an absence of bias in evaluation of coursework and maintaining both the appearance and reality of fairness of treatment among all students in a class or an academic program. When there is no reasonable alternate course or instructor for a required course taught only by the conflicted faculty member, then the relevant academic associate dean and department head, chair, or supervisor work with the faculty member to identify an alternate evaluator for the student-family member’s work. It is the prerogative of the conflicted faculty member to agree to the selection of the faculty colleague for this alternate evaluator assignment. Graduate School policies prohibit faculty members from serving as advisor or committee member for family members (spouse or dependent immediate family member), or for individuals with whom they have a close personal relationship such as partner or extended family member, or close professional relationship such as business associate or supervisor.
Consensual relationships between faculty members (including Graduate Teaching Assistants) and students enrolled in their classes, or students for whom they have professional responsibility as advisor or supervisor, violate the policy on Professional Ethics and Responsibilities and may be a violation of Policy 1025, Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy.
State law and federal law require that faculty members fully disclose personal financial interests that present a potential conflict of interest with one’s university responsibilities. Involvement with external activities, such as consulting or outside employment, or financial relationships with external entities related to one’s professional responsibilities must be approved in advance. All employees (or their immediate family members) who have a private company (or personal ownership interest meeting or exceeding state limitations) that wishes to do business with Virginia Tech must disclose this financial interest annually. All investigators (or their immediate family members) who own or have ownership interest in a private business that would reasonably appear to be related to their institutional responsibilities must disclose that financial interest and have it evaluated for potential conflicts of interest or commitment, whether or not that company intends to do business with Virginia Tech. A renewal application must be filed annually for those approved activities that extend beyond one year. When a conflict management plan is required by the circumstances, full and immediate compliance is essential to assure the integrity of university-sponsored research, teaching, outreach, and administrative activities. University officials, not the faculty member, ultimately determine whether a reported financial interest constitutes a conflict and whether an award can be accepted or must be declined given the possible unresolved issues.
The complexity and importance of managing potential conflicts of interest warrant the full attention of members of the university community. Initial and periodic training concerning applicable university policies and state and federal law and the investigator’s responsibilities for disclosure is required for all faculty engaged in sponsored research. Federal regulations require all Public Health Service investigators to complete training prior to the award of a grant or contract. Initial training for other investigators must be completed in conformance with procedures issued by the vice president for research and innovation. Retraining related to conflict of interest is required every four years and/or whenever there is significant change in university policy related to investigator responsibilities. Any investigator found to be in non-compliance with disclosure requirements will also be required to complete immediate training.
This policy must be read in conjunction with related university policies and procedures, such as intellectual property, use of facilities and university resources, procurement, Policy 4070, “Additional/Outside Employment Policy for Salaried Classified and University Staff,” Faculty Handbook sections on consulting, outside employment, and conflict of interest and conflict of commitment. Policy guidance is provided on the Conflict of Interest website maintained by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and the standards of conduct and ethics website maintained by the Procurement Department.
The sections below outline procedures for disclosing external activities, potential conflicts of interest, economic interest, managing potential conflicts, and participation and payment of students.
University policy requires reporting of a wide variety of external activities, whether or not they generate additional income for the faculty member, or an immediate family member. Certain traditional scholarly-related activities do not require reporting, such as serving on a peer-review panel, guest lecturing at another institution, serving as a speaker or panelist at a professional society meeting or conference, or editing a scholarly journal, even when the faculty member receives an honorarium for such service. A list of common activities that do not need to be reported is available on the Conflict of Interest website.
Advance approval is required for consulting or outside employment. Use form 13010 for disclosure and approval of such activities on an annual basis each fall, or as needed for new activities. Include sufficient information for department and college officials to review and evaluate the proposed activities for conflict of interest or commitment. A single form may be submitted for on-going consulting activity with a single entity during the fiscal year. Continuation of that same consulting activity beyond the current fiscal year must be reported and approved annually. Separate disclosures are required for each consulting client so that potential conflicts of interest or commitment can be properly evaluated. A single disclosure denoting ownership of a consulting company with multiple unidentified clients does not allow an adequate assessment and is considered insufficient and unacceptable. Proposed external activities must be reported sufficiently in advance to allow a meaningful evaluation and approval process, including development of a management plan in the case of a conflict of interest or other legal issues posed by the proposed activity.
External activities with no anticipated impact on related sponsored research, other sponsored activities, or employment or funding of students or trainees, and within stated limitations of university policies on consulting and/or outside employment may be approved by the department head, chair, or supervisor and relevant dean or senior administrator. Approval of the provost, or the relevant vice president, is required for exceptions to the time limitations on consulting and outside or additional Virginia Tech employment. The original approved form is kept in the employee’s departmental personnel file. University departments and the relevant dean or vice president’s office are responsible for ensuring that copies are sent to the employee and the university conflict of interest officer. The relevant dean or vice president’s office also retains copies of the individual disclosures.
Staff members may request approval for outside employment and/or additional employment at Virginia Tech in accordance with Policy 4070, “Additional/Outside Employment Policy for Salaried Classified and University Staff.”
Form 13010 is also used annually to disclose external activities, or relationships with external entities, that may involve a potential conflict of interest. Examples of activities that generally require disclosure are available on the Conflict of Interest website, such as employee (or immediate family) ownership of a private business seeking to sponsor research at Virginia Tech, or utilizing students, trainees, or other university employees in the faculty member’s private business or consulting. A newly acquired significant financial interest, such as might occur through marriage, inheritance, or establishment of a new company, must be disclosed within 30 days. Disclosures must be filed and approved prior to submission of a related proposal for sponsored research.
For faculty members with Public Health Service (PHS) funding, reimbursed or sponsored travel paid for by an external entity must also be disclosed if it exceeds an aggregated amount of $5,000 annually. Disclosure includes at a minimum the purpose of the trip, identity of the sponsor/organizer, the destination, and duration. Disclosure is not required for travel reimbursed by the university from any source of university funds (e.g., departmental, foundation, sponsored project), or travel paid for (or reimbursed) by a federal, state, or local government agency, a U.S. institution of higher education, an affiliated research institute, or academic teaching hospital. Special rules concerning reporting of travel apply to those employees who must complete the annual commonwealth’s Statement of Economic Interest forms.
It is essential that the employee describe in detail the totality of the relationship with the external entity, including but not limited to the extent of individual or family financial interest, any involvement of students or other employees, and any project-specific considerations. Disclosures will be reviewed initially by the department head, chair, or the designated administrator for employees in non-academic units. Guidance on how to assess reported activities or relationships for potential conflicts of interest is available on the Conflict of Interest website. A management plan must be drafted if the faculty member expects related future research involvement with the entity.
Once approved by the department head, chair, or unit head, the form is routed for review and approval by the relevant dean or vice president’s office. Additional review and approval by the university conflict of interest officer is required for disclosures involving business ownership interests of investigators (or their family members), significant financial interests related to sponsored research, or other sponsored activities, employment or funding of students/trainees/staff, and any proposed management plan.
When the Office of Sponsored Programs receives a proposal involving an employee-owned business either as a research sponsor or subcontractor, relevant disclosures (completed form 13010, management plan, Virginia Statement of Economic Interest) are collected and reviewed by the designated conflict of interest officer for sufficiency. The conflict of interest officer prepares a summary of the proposed award and nature of the financial interest for further review by university legal counsel, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, the provost, and president. Contracts approved by the president are subsequently reported to the Board of Visitors.
Prior to executing a related sponsored award, the approved disclosure form, management plan, and presidential approval, if relevant, must be in place. When appropriate, the university conflict of interest officer reports an investigator’s significant financial interest and key elements of the management plan to the federal agency sponsor in accordance with agency requirements.
If a significant financial interest is identified subsequent to project initiation, the conflict of interest officer promptly reviews (within 60 days) the financial interest and its relationship to the project. The conflict of interests officer implements an interim management plan to mitigate the potential conflict, including, if deemed necessary, suspending further project expenditures pending a more complete review and determination of appropriate action.
The Commonwealth of Virginia requires reporting of economic interests by members of boards of visitors, senior administrators, select others with financial decision-making authority, and employee business owners whose companies seek to contract with the university for research and development or commercialization of intellectual property. The Statement of Economic Interest disclosure is completed once a year in January or as needed in the case of a new research contract.
University Human Resources notifies individual employees of any state disclosure requirements and provides instructions on how to access the state-maintained online reporting system. These individuals are required to complete state conflict of interest training on a two-year cycle. Information regarding the Statement of Economic Interests is available on the Human Resources website.
A management plan is used to document the proposed strategies for eliminating, mitigating, or managing a potential conflict of interest. Approved strategies must reflect the commitment of the faculty member to university principles and values of transparency; strict adherence to the highest standards of professional ethics and conduct of research; appropriate and timely dissemination of research results; and protection of students, employees, and human subjects involved in the research. The management plan can call for implementation of several strategies designed to protect these values and the integrity of the research, research sponsors, the employee, and the university. Examples of frequently adopted strategies and sample management plans are available on the Conflict of Interest website. Management plans are typically project specific, reflecting the conditions of the proposed research. Management plans must fully describe the situation giving rise to the potential conflict, the proposed strategy to eliminate, mitigate, or manage the potential conflict, and the process by which the activities and the management plan will be monitored. Appropriate monitoring should include an oversight function to evaluate the effectiveness of and ensure compliance with the strategies specified in the management plan. In accordance with Public Health Service (PHS) regulations. Disclosure of an investigator’s significant financial interest must be made directly to the human subjects involved in all research activities.
A faculty-owner may not serve as sole principal investigator on a university project that is funded wholly, or partially, by the external organization with which the faculty-owner is associated. The co-principal investigator must be a faculty member who is not in a subordinate position to the faculty-owner, nor associated with the faculty-owner’s company, or in any way susceptible to potentially inappropriate influence by the faculty-owner. Any exception to this must be approved by the vice president for research and innovation. The faculty-owner may not have financial responsibility for the contract. Oversight arrangements must be carefully crafted for those cases where the faculty-owner remains involved in the sponsored research. Faculty consulting with an external entity which then sponsors research at the university involving that faculty member also presents a potentially serious conflict of interest which must be eliminated or carefully mitigated.
All management plans are reviewed and approved by the university conflict of interest officer to assure consistency and compliance with applicable sponsor regulations and university policy.
Awards will be contingent upon acceptance and implementation of the plan by the faculty member. While the faculty member bears primary responsibility for carrying out the plan, department head, chair, or supervisor, and deans are expected to monitor compliance and assure that protections are provided for employees and students. A review of active management plans will be performed periodically throughout the performance period of the sponsored project. Employees, department head, chair, or supervisor and others involved in the execution of a specific management plan will be contacted and requested to provide any updates or revisions that may have been made during the review period. Once the management plan review has been completed and approved, any required sponsor reporting will be filed.
The participation of students in projects involving faculty-owners should be given particularly careful consideration. Work for faculty-owned companies or in faculty consulting provides valuable experience for undergraduate and graduate students. Nevertheless, such opportunities come with some risk that the student may be diverted from his or her educational goals or the perception that students are being used primarily for the benefit of those companies. For example, a faculty member who pressures a student to complete work related to the faculty member’s company could easily affect the student’s completion of graduate studies in a timely and appropriate way, thereby putting the faculty member’s interest in obtaining proprietary results ahead of the student’s academic or scholarly research activities. The concern is similar for the involvement of students in faculty consulting or other external activities. The risks and benefits of such involvement must be carefully weighted by departmental administrators responsible for evaluating the disclosure and approving the request, particularly where the involvement may be longer term and/or more time consuming. See additional sections in this chapter for further discussion of issues related to student involvement in faculty members’ external activities or outside businesses.
Where approved, students may be paid for involvement in faculty-owner activities in either of two ways. Remuneration may be in the form of an assistantship and tuition, or wages funded by a sponsored project contracted to the university from the business or organization with which the faculty-owner is associated. The assistantship or wages are remuneration for work only within the agreed scope of that funded project and for no other tasks undertaken for the benefit of the external organization. This is no different from any other sponsored project that involves graduate research assistants or wage-earning students. In these circumstances, assistantships are constrained to payments within the scales published by the university. Alternatively, the company or agency might engage students directly as employees. This is the situation experienced by most off-campus and part-time graduate students. However, it is envisaged that in the case of faculty-owned businesses, students will spend time in university facilities when not engaged in direct work for the company at the company site or in an off-campus location. (Students may not do work on behalf of the company in university facilities.) Remuneration is not limited to university scales when students are employed directly by the company and may include the cost of tuition.
Students who will be employed by either of the two methods of payment and have their research supervised by the faculty-owner must sign an agreement acknowledging that they have been informed by their graduate program director or department head, chair, or supervisor, and associate dean about the source of their funding, the potential concerns associated with conflict of interest, and their channels for redress if needed.
Any work done on behalf of the faculty-owner’s company in university facilities must done in accordance with sponsored program guidelines and/or Policy 5000, “University Facilities Usage and Events Approval.”
Virginia Tech expects its employees to comply fully and promptly with all Conflicts of Interests policies. The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the policy and associated procedures. The university conflict of interest officer works cooperatively with investigators and others to resolve any minor issues of noncompliance.
Breaches of the disclosure process, including (a) failures to comply with such process, whether by virtue of an employee’s refusal to respond or by his or her responding with incomplete or knowingly inaccurate information, (b) failures to remedy conflicts, and (c) failures to comply with a prescribed management plan, will be forwarded to the appropriate university unit for investigation and appropriate action. Concerns about potential bias in the research will be reviewed in accordance with procedures established by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and posted on the Conflict of Interest website.
Instances of deliberate breach of policy—including failure to file a required disclosure form, knowingly filing an incomplete, erroneous, or misleading disclosure form, or failure to comply with prescribed monitoring procedures will be adjudicated in accordance with applicable university disciplinary policies and procedures as described in the faculty and staff handbooks. University procedures for imposition of a severe sanction or dismissal for cause described in chapter three of the Faculty Handbook provide appeal mechanisms for faculty members charged with a serious breach of university policies. Staff employees may appeal through the staff grievance process.
All original signed disclosure forms and management plans related to conflicts of interest and commitment will be retained in the employee's departmental personnel file in accordance with university record retention guidelines. Copies of disclosure forms and management plans related to research will be maintained in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation in accordance with state and federal requirements.
Business means any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, franchise, association, trust or foundation, or any other individual or entity carrying on a business or profession, whether or not for profit. The definition excludes the university, or any other entity controlled by, controlling, or under common control with the university.
Disclosure is the full recording or specification of the employee's relationship with an external organization or involvement in external activities.
Employee includes all types of Virginia Tech faculty, staff, or employed students, whether full- or part-time.
Faculty member is anyone who has faculty status at Virginia Tech, regardless of rank and including research faculty and administrative and professional faculty. The complete categories of faculty are defined in chapter two of the Faculty Handbook. This policy also applies to staff employees and employed students where relevant.
Family member or immediate family member means an employee’s spouse or child who resides in the same household and who is a dependent of the employee. A potential conflict of interest may arise when the party holding the "financial interest" as defined below is related to the employee in ways other than spouse and dependent children. Financial interests held by this party should be disclosed by the employee to the best of their knowledge.
Institutional responsibilities are defined broadly and include but are not limited to teaching, advising, research and scholarly activities, outreach, administrative and institutional committee service, and service to professional associations or on panels such as peer, institutional, or accreditation review boards.
Investigator means the project director or principal investigator and any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research. Collaborators, consultants, or subcontractors are considered investigators for the purposes of this policy, as is anyone identified as key personnel in the contract proposal and contract. Investigator disclosures must include the financial interests of their spouse and dependents.
Organizational conflict of interest exists when multiple university relationships with sponsors create an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Virginia Tech is treated as a single contractual entity in the federal contracting context. Separate sponsored projects and their principal investigators are considered part of the overall Virginia Tech contracting entity. Hence, the involvement of one faculty member in a consulting or advisory services contract with the agency may preclude a subsequent related contract from that agency based on potential concerns that there may have been access to source selection criteria or confidential information not in the public domain in advance of request for proposal (RFP) or procurement, or that the organization might be evaluating its own work products and hence open to charges of biased judgment, or that the preparation of specifications or statements of work might have favored the institution. Organizational conflict of interest applies to more than one project and may affect all current or even future sponsored research with a particular federal sponsor.
The Public Health Service comprises all agency divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services and the commissioned corporations, agencies, and operating divisions including: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Office of Global Affairs; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Food and Drug Administration; Health Resources and Services Administration; Indian Health Service; National Institutes of Health; and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Significant financial interest is defined differently by state law and federal regulation. The Virginia State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act uses the term “personal interest” and the defined thresholds for disclosure apply to all employees not engaged in sponsored research. The definition for “significant financial interest” below applies to all investigators involved in sponsored research, regardless of the source of funds for that research.
Personal interest as defined by the Virginia State and Local Governments Conflict of Interests Act: A financial benefit or liability accruing to an officer or employee or to a member of his immediate family. Such interest shall exist by reason of (i) ownership in a business if the ownership interest exceeds three percent of the total equity of the business; (ii) annual income that exceeds, or may reasonably be anticipated to exceed, $5,000 from ownership in real or personal property or a business; (iii) salary, other compensation, fringe benefits, or benefits from the use of property, or any combination thereof, paid or provided by a business or governmental agency that exceeds, or may reasonably be anticipated to exceed, $5,000 annually; (iv) ownership of real or personal property if the interest exceeds $5,000 in value and excluding ownership in a business, income, or salary, other compensation, fringe benefits or benefits from the use of property; (v) personal liability incurred or assumed on behalf of a business if the liability exceeds three percent of the asset value of the business; or (vi) an option for ownership of a business or real or personal property if the ownership interest will consist of (i) or (iv) above.
Significant financial interest: A financial interest consisting of one or more of the following interests of the investigator (and those of the investigator’s spouse and dependent children) that reasonably appears to be related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities:
With regard to any publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the 12 months preceding the disclosure and the value of the equity interest in the entity as of the date of disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000. For purposes of this definition, remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not otherwise identified as salary (e.g., consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship); equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest, as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value.
With regard to any non-publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the 12 months preceding the disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000, or when the investigator (or the investigator’s spouse or dependent children) holds any equity interest (e.g., stock, stock option, or other ownership interest).
Or, intellectual property rights and interest (e.g., patents, copyrights), upon receipt of income related to such rights and interest.
Public Health Service funded investigators must also disclose the occurrence of any reimbursed or sponsored travel if it exceeds an aggregated amount of $5,000 annually and is related to their institutional responsibilities. Sponsored travel is defined as that which is paid on behalf of the investigator and not reimbursed to the investigator so that the exact monetary value may not be readily available. However, this disclosure requirement does not apply to travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, a U.S. institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute affiliated with an institution of higher education.
The term significant financial interest does not include the following types of financial interests: salary, royalties, or remuneration paid by Virginia Tech to the investigator, including intellectual property rights assigned to the institution and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights; income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles; income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, and U.S. institutions of higher education; or income from service on advisory committees or review panels for a federal, state, or local government agency, a U.S. institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education.
The university endorses high ethical standards in conducting research to ensure public trust in the integrity of research results. The university recognizes that deception in research erodes the credibility of an institution and the confidence of those who might benefit from the research. The university takes all reasonable and practical steps to foster a research environment that promotes the responsible conduct of research and research training (and activities related to that research or research training), discourages research misconduct, and deals promptly with allegations or evidence of possible research misconduct. The Research Integrity Office offers additional information. Chapter 10 of this handbook includes additional information and procedures regarding misconduct in research.
Candidacy for political office, service on county and state commissions, and active participation in political campaigns are recognized as individual freedoms of each faculty member. The only restriction placed upon such activities is that they not interfere with the faculty member's academic responsibilities. Faculty members must take care to assure that their positions in the university are kept separate from their political activities; it must be clear that they act as citizens in such activities, not as representatives of the university.
The university encourages interest in civic affairs. However, neither political nor community activities are considered in the annual merit evaluation of a faculty member. If income is obtained for such activities, approval must be first obtained under consulting policies.
Acceptable Use of Information Systems including Policy 7000, “Acceptable Use and Administration of Computer and Communication Systems” governs acceptable use of information systems at Virginia Tech including that university employees must not use university systems for partisan political purposes including the use of electronic mail to circulate advertising for political candidates.
It is the university’s policy to maintain a robust system of internal controls in order to safeguard assets, identify and correct errors and irregularities in the financial records on a timely basis, and to enhance compliance with university policies and procedures and applicable laws and regulations. The establishment, maintenance, and evaluation of an organization's system of internal controls is the responsibility of management and creates the foundation for sound business practices within an ethical environment. It is also university policy to assess the effectiveness of the system of internal controls through periodic reviews by management and the services of external and internal auditors.
Policy 3010, “Internal Controls” applies to all university faculty, staff and wage employees, hereafter referred to as “employees.” All university employees play a key role in ensuring that the high standards of business and ethical practices and the good stewardship of university resources are adopted in the performance of their duties at Virginia Tech. The establishment of strong internal controls echoes the principles of professional and personal integrity found in the university’s Statement of Business Conduct Standards which requires all employees to be fair, ethical, and honest in all internal and external business dealings and to comply with university policies and procedures and applicable laws and regulations.
The facilities of the university are intended for the use of its faculty, staff, students, and invited guests participating in university-approved programs and activities, sponsored by or under the direction of the university or one of its related agencies or approved organizations, or by other organizations outside the university. Refer to Policy 5000, “University Facilities Usage and Evens Approval”, for further guidance regarding approved uses of university facilities. Policy 6362, “Policy on Continuing and Professional Education”, required that academic colleges, centers, and administrative units designing and delivering continuing and professional educational activities, both on- and off-campus, under the auspices of the Virginia Tech brand must work through Continuing and Professional Education. This includes work conducted by faculty in Blacksburg, as well as faculty delivering continuing education programs at university locations outside Blacksburg. Alternate arrangements may be made in the case of lack of availability of appropriate space or mutual agreement between the sponsoring university entity and Continuing and Professional Education.
University facilities are to be used in a manner consistent with their intended purpose. Priority of use is given to those activities related to the mission of the university. The facilities must be used in a safe, professional manner so as not to endanger the university community or the general public. The university may restrict access to land and buildings to protect individuals, property, and equipment.
The vice president for operations is responsible for implementing policies and procedures about university facilities, including academic buildings.
Requests for use of rooms in The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center are submitted to The Inn’s space reservationist. Requests for use of the residence halls follow procedures outlined in, “Residential Camps, Conferences, and Workshops.”
Faculty and staff are not allowed to use university resources for private gain. However, under the following conditions, the compensated use of specialized facilities or equipment is allowed in support of approved consulting activities:
The facility or equipment must have a charge rate, established by the Controller’s Office, which reflects all direct and indirect costs associated with the use of the facility or equipment and applies to use by parties outside the university. The charge rate is applied to the actual use.
A Request to Engage in External Activity must be filed with the Online Disclosure Management System, specifying the facility or equipment to be used and estimating, in time or charges, the extent of the proposed use. The director, department head, chair, or supervisor of the department responsible for the facility or equipment verifies, on the Request to Engage in External Activity Form 13010A, that the proposed use does not interfere with, or have priority over, anticipated university use of the facility or equipment.
In approving the Request to Engage in External Activity, the faculty member’s department head, chair, or supervisor and dean or vice president (and provost, when appropriate) determine that the consultation is of substantial professional merit and presents no conflict of interest in the use of the facilities or equipment. Particular care is given to the relationship of the consultation with current or potential grants or contracts and to the possibility of unfair competition with local firms and businesses.
If an employee uses equipment of a specialized service center, the employee is charged the “commercial” or “consulting” rate, as determined by the Controller’s Office. The employee is billed based on actual use. The deposit is credited to the appropriate service center account established by the Controller’s Office.
If the faculty member uses facilities such as those of the Virginia Tech athletic department, Moss Arts Center, or Student Engagement and Campus Life venues, the employee is charged at a rate established by the Controller’s Office for such use. The deposit is made to the appropriate department’s account.
For facilities other than specialized service centers, or other facilities for which a charge rate has been determined, the use of the facilities must be authorized and reimbursed at a rate determined by the joint collaboration of the employee’s department head, chair, or supervisor and the Controller’s Office.
The use of University Libraries facilities in connection with consulting is exempt from the above regulations, since those facilities are available to the public.
Policy 5400, “University Space Management”, describes the formal decision-making and allocation approach to university space management, including all space and land owned or leased by the university. Through this formalized process, the university has the authority and responsibility to allocate space to specific users through organizational hierarches for certain periods of time, to review those allocations periodically, to assess their utilization, and to reallocate as needed to support the university’s strategic goals. The policy provides principles that govern the distribution of classroom and lab space scheduling and applicable roles and responsibilities.
Proper operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on campus and procedures for reporting any incidents is regulated in Policy 5820, “Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)”. The Policy governs (i) the operation of UAS on or over University Facilities, which include the university campus and property owned, rented, leased, and controlled by the university, (ii) the operation of university-owned UAS, and (iii) the operation of UAS by university personnel for university-related purposes (each, a “University UAS Operation”; collectively, “University UAS Operations”).
Access to computer systems and networks owned or operated by Virginia Tech imposes certain responsibilities and obligations and is granted subject to university policies, and local, state, and federal laws. Acceptable use is always ethical, reflects academic honesty, and shows restraint in the consumption of shared resources. It demonstrates respect for intellectual property, ownership of data, system security mechanisms, and individuals’ rights to privacy and to freedom from intimidation, harassment, and unwarranted annoyance. Please consult Policy 7000, “Acceptable Use and Administration of Computer and Communication Systems.” Policy 7000 applies to the use of any computing or communications device, regardless of ownership, while connected to the university network, and the use of any information technology services provided by or through the university. Every user of these systems and services is expected to know and follow this policy. Refer to Acceptable Use of Information Systems at Virginia Tech that details what are acceptable and not acceptable use of university resources. In making acceptable use of resources you must NOT, if you are an employee, use University systems for partisan political purposes, such as using electronic mail to circulate advertising for political candidates.”
University entities or individuals may, as needed, use digital communication tools to communicate with groups of university constituents on matters of official university business that require immediate notification or that are of a sufficient level of importance to warrant special attention. Any such group communications to employees, students, or others must be compliant with all regulations and university policies and should be limited to those matters that affect the majority of the defined group. Text messaging may be used but must not be the sole means of communicating an essential message or announcement. The text message must be supplemented by some other means of communication, e.g. an email or paper notice to ensure that all intended recipients, including those without a mobile phone, receive the message.
Virginia Tech requires all employees to obey applicable policies and laws in the use of any computing device, regardless of ownership, while connected to the university network. (See Policy 7010, Policy for Securing Technology Resources and Services.)
The university does not routinely monitor or access the content of electronic communications, computer files, or voicemail of its employees, whether stored on university equipment or in transit on the university network. Content of employees’ electronic communications or files are not accessed during the execution of routine systems support, network performance, and related security functions.
However, monitoring or access may be necessary under certain circumstances. Legal or administrative circumstances where monitoring and/or access may occur without further authorization are communications or files required to be released by law, by orders of a court, or requested in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act; approved internal audit reviews; resolution of technical problems, emergency situations involving an imminent threat of irreparable harm to persons or property; and resources assigned to a group or publicly available to any user.
Virginia Tech recognizes the value of social media platforms for a range of goals and must balance its support of social media with the preservation of Virginia Tech’s brand identity, integrity, and reputation. The university authorizes the creation and use of university social media accounts, provided their use is professional, protects the reputation and brand of the university, aligns with university priorities, and complies with other Virginia Tech policies and applicable state and federal laws and regulations, and is guided by the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.
Policy 1030, “Social Media Policy”, outlines the obligations, processes, and procedures for the use of social media.
Generally, crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or campaign by soliciting relatively small donations of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. The university’s crowdfunding website provides crowdfunding guidelines, including the application process, best practices, and team roles and responsibilities. Policy 12100, “Policy on Coordination of Private Fundraising” provides guidance on using crowdfunding.
The university encourages faculty to pursue endeavors that will enhance their professional development and benefit university programs. For details on travel-related business expenses and travel reporting procedures, refer to Controller’s Office Procedures 20335A: Travel Overview.
The university strongly encourages all members of the university community who are contemplating travel abroad for education, research, or other purposes to plan well in advance and to take precautions to ensure a safe trip. For details on global travel procedures, refer to Policy 1070, “Global Travel Policy.”
As the primary identifier of the university, letterhead should only be used for appropriate university business. As such, university letterhead is not to be used for personal business or where personal gain results. Avoid endorsements of political personages, businesses, or products when using university letterhead. Discretion is advised if correspondence on university letterhead could be construed as a university endorsement.
All university employees, while acting within the course and scope of their employment, are covered by the commonwealth’s insurance plan and will be defended by the Office of the Attorney General in actions brought against them. Questions concerning any specific situation should be addressed to the Office of the University Legal Counsel.