Responsibilities of Faculty Members (Statement and Procedures)

Responsibilities of Faculty Members (Statement and Procedures)

Legislative History:

Drafted by Special Committee on Paid Employment Outside the University in 1983/84; Approved by Senate: 1984/04/26; Date Effective: 1984/04/26

Approval Authority: Senate

Signature: Malcolm Ransom

Description: Senate Policy defining the responsibilities of full-time faculty members and providing guidelines for defining abuse of these responsibilities specifically in terms of employment outside the University.

I.  Introduction

  1. The Special Committee on Paid Employment Outside the University was charged to review the responsibilities of full-time faculty members in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service, and to consider articulating a general policy on these responsibilities and on what constitutes abuse in the form of additional paid employment, especially outside the University.
  2. The Committee recognizes that the conduct of faculty members at York responds to several normative regimes: collective and individual employment contracts, Senate legislation, administrative practices and widely-held - but seldom stated and often vague - understandings about proper academic behaviour. It is no part of our function to alter the basic processes by which the rights or privileges of individuals may be defined by these regimes. We accept these as given. However, all concerned--Senate, the faculty associations, the administration and faculty members--may wish to address within their respective spheres of authority what are proper standards of academic behaviour. It is in this spirit that the Committee offers for their consideration the following model statements of standards, procedures, and accountability.
  3. Senate agreed to establish the Committee after a long discussion which included references to particular abuses and fears of further, perhaps widespread abuse in the absence of a clear policy. Written submissions from Deans tend to confirm the need for a general policy, although there appear to be differences of opinion about the nature and severity of the problem, and about the degree of autonomy a Faculty should enjoy in this area. The question is complicated by the extent to which outside work, for example consulting, lecturing, or the writing of text-books, may be seen as a desirable extension of an academic's university work. However, it is clear to the Committee that the central question is the meaning of a full-time load in the areas of scholarship, teaching, and service for which one receives a university salary. Apart from any rules or sanctions spoken to in this document, the University's best strategy will be to adopt affirmative measures for the internal encouragement and reward of scholarly and collegial activity.
  4. The statement of collegial responsibilities which follows pre-supposes an understanding of the traditional values of university life--that receiving an appointment at a university has meant and still means to most colleagues a commitment to a life of scholarship and creativity, and that the full professional energies of faculty members will be placed at the service of the academy and their disciplines. A tenured appointment guarantees freedom of thought and action to its holders. With this guarantee comes a commitment to the community of one's academic peers to use those freedoms for the purposes for which they are intended. This shared trust must not be abused, either by inordinate or indiscreet paid activity which fails to meet the general criteria outlined below, or by failure to fulfil one's university obligations. A university cannot function by constantly coercing faculty members to live up to their scholarly or creative responsibilities, or to refrain from taking on outside paid work which is neither reflective nor innovative. However, the university must nonetheless be in a position to account to all of its members and to society at large for the way in which those responsibilities are discharged. It must therefore possess knowledge of the behaviour which will permit such an accounting, and must accept responsibility for dealing with abuse.


The responsibilities of full-time faculty members will vary among individuals and academic units. Except for members of the Alternate Stream, whose duties are primarily in the areas of teaching and service, they always include participation in the following activities: (a) teaching, (b) research, scholarly or creative activity, and (c) service to the University. These duties constitute the faculty member's principal obligation to the University.

    1. Teaching: faculty members shall carry out their responsibility for teaching by keeping up to date with relevant secondary literature and carefully preparing lectures and course materials, taking care to make themselves accessible to students for academic consultation, to inform students adequately regarding course formats, assignments, and methods of evaluation, to maintain teaching schedules in all but exceptional circumstances, to inform students adequately of any necessary cancellation and rescheduling of instruction, and to adhere to the schedules for submission of grades and evaluations by their Departments and Faculties.
    2. Research, Scholarly or Creative Activity: faculty members shall devote a reasonable proportion of their time to original research and innovative or reflective scholarly or creative work consistent with their academic stream. They shall make the results of such work available to the scholarly and general public through publications, lectures, and other appropriate means. Activity undertaken outside the University which is not reflective or innovative does not constitute research, scholarship or creative work in the generally accepted meaning of these terms.
    3. Service to the University: faculty members are expected to participate in the decision-making councils of the University, and to share the necessary administrative work of their Departments, Faculties and the University. Service to the University embraces service to the larger academic community, which is performed through (among other duties) reviewing academic publications, and sitting on editorial boards, granting councils, and other learned associations. Faculty members may also serve the University, directly or indirectly, through service to the external community which does not take the form of research.
  1. In the performance of their professional responsibilities, faculty members shall deal fairly and ethically with their colleagues, students, and other members of the University community.


  1. Faculty members' responsibilities, as defined in Part II, should be elaborated within each Faculty to take account of "local" conditions and traditions. In particular each Faculty should attempt to distinguish, with examples, between the kinds of activity which are likely to enhance the aims and aspirations of the University and those which are more likely to interfere with the proper discharge of a faculty member's responsibilities. In deciding on the appropriateness of outside activities, their nature and the time and energy devoted to them should be given more weight than the actual income derived from them.
  2. Faculty guidelines should recognize that many forms of outside paid activity may generate creative scholarship or may contribute to teaching. However, these benefits are not a necessary consequence of such activity. An individual claiming that such benefits have followed from outside activity should ultimately have to demonstrate this in the form of publications, teaching materials, etc.
  3. Although it is expected that there will be substantial differences among the guidelines produced by the different Faculties, they should be subject to the scrutiny and approval of a University-wide body including representatives of the administration, Senate, and Faculty Associations.
  4. Faculty procedures should at a minimum contain the following elements:
    1. A stipulation that no full-time faculty member of York University may at the same time hold a full-time position or its equivalent elsewhere;
    2. an indication of the kind of maximum level (e.g. , 3 days a month, one day a week, etc.) of outside activity that is regarded as consistent with full-time university employment as described in (a) , above. Any departure from this standard should be dealt with by individual negotiation in advance, which might result in a reduction of obligations to, and of remuneration from, the University;
    3. a mechanism for advance consultation with the Dean and/or Department Chairman before a major outside project is embarked on. In situations where an individual's time commitment to outside work is such as to interfere with fulfillment of his responsibilities for teaching, research and service at a reasonable standard, it is expected that the individual shall reduce such activities appropriately, seek a reduced teaching load or leave without pay, or resign;
    4. a mechanism for post facto reporting to the Dean of outside paid activities beyond the trivial. The missing of scheduled classes in order to undertake paid employment outside the University must be reported;
    5. the requirement that the University be reimbursed for all uses of its facilities in the pursuit of outside activities;
    6. a simple and informal mechanism for resolving disputes.


  1. Deans are part of both the administrative and academic structures of the University. They can therefore make an important contribution to securing adherence to university-wide and faculty level standards. In so doing, they must also act within the framework of the Collective Agreement and any direction given by senior University officers.
  2. To the extent that a Dean is a responsible member of "management" he may be called upon to make recommendations concerning sabbatical leave, research leave, salary increases other than those universally available, and other discretionary matters lying generally within the ambit of the administration's decision-making functions. There is no reason why the Dean should not be required to certify that any individual who is to be the beneficiary of such decisions has discharged his responsibilities as these are defined in this document.
  3. Similarly, the Dean is a link in the chain of academic decision-making. He contributes to peer review for purposes of promotion and tenure, and other decisions of academic bodies either under Senate legislation or pursuant to the Collective Agreement. Here again the Dean ought to be in a position to certify that any individual seeking a favourable decision has discharged his responsibilities as defined.
  4. The effect of requiring the Dean to certify either in his capacity as a member of management, or in his role as an academic decision-maker, that individuals have discharged their responsibilities, is to force both him and them to confront this fact at appropriate moments. By so doing, a new range of minor sanctions is introduced, by which the University can record its disapproval of behaviour which does not conform to the statement of responsibilities above.

Of course, under Senate legislation and the Collective Agreement, if the extent of outside employment (or other similar neglect of duties) amounts to misconduct warranting discharge, the Dean has a responsibility to recommend such action. Senate legislation and the Collective Agreement both make it clear, or should be made to make it clear if they do not do so already, that certain kinds of benefits (e.g., sabbatical leave or release time for research) are contingent upon appropriate levels of performance. Naturally, when differences of opinion arise as to whether these levels of performance have been achieved, there may well be recourse to some adjudicative machinery. In the case of discharge or denial of sabbatical, this machinery is defined in the Collective Agreement; in the case of other benefits it may be defined elsewhere.


  1. These guidelines are not intended to discourage extra-University activity by faculty members. It is recognized that professional involvement and development in the world outside the University is necessary and desirable from the point of view of several Faculties. Not only can it add to the research or creative opportunities available to a faculty member, thereby enriching the individuals teaching and scholarship, but it can provide a benefit to the society of which the University is part. By placing such activities within the context of Faculty norms and values, the individual's responsibilities, and the necessity for the University to uphold its own standards of instruction and intellectual enquiry, the Committee hopes to foster a common understanding among members of the faculty and administration of what is appropriate by way of external activity.
  2. Neither does this document mean to imply that outside paid activity constitutes the only opportunity for abuse of a faculty member's responsibility for ensuring that his time is well spent and his obligations to students and colleagues are fully discharged. There are levels of in- appropriate activity (for instance, too heavy an involvement in overload teaching) or inactivity which in and of themselves interfere with the proper functions of a faculty member. Such activity, though beyond the scope of the Committee's terms of reference, is no less a cause for vigilance.