APP 1-11: Academic Personnel Records

Defines records–including confidential and non-confidential review records–and sets out an appointee’s rights to access those records under university-wide policies in the Academic Personnel Manual.

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A. Background - Public Information and Individual Privacy

Under the California Public Records Act, records maintained by the University generally are considered public records and are subject to inspection by any person upon request unless the records are confidential and, therefore, exempted under the law from disclosure. However, to preserve each person’s right to privacy, there are strict limits on access to information about individuals.

Academic Personnel Policy 160 is intended to protect academic employees from unwarranted invasion of their personal privacy, as well as to specify their rights of access to their own personnel records; and their right to make corrections, deletions, or additions to these records. In this way the need for access to information is balanced by the need for privacy and confidentiality.

Recent amendments to the Information Practices Act have altered or deleted the three categories of information: confidential, personal, and non-personal information. However, in order to clarify access rights of the individual to whom records pertain and third party disclosure rights, University policy continues to classify information as confidential, personal, or non-personal. In addition, University policy establishes a special category of confidential academic review records.

B. Types of Information

With the implementation of revised APM academic personnel policies on access to records, previously “confidential” academic review records have now been divided into two categories; “confidential” and “non-confidential,” with revised access rights allowing the candidate to have more complete information, some in redacted form, than was previously available.

Non-personal Information

Non-personal information regarding an employee is limited to that information which could not, in any reasonable way, reflect or convey anything detrimental to an individual’s rights, benefits, or privileges, and includes:

  1. Name
  2. Date of hire or separation
  3. Current position title
  4. Current rate of pay
  5. Current department, office address and phone number
  6. Full-time, part-time, or other employment status
  7. Certain other employment information required to be released to the public

Non-personal information is public information and is available upon request to any person or entity without limitation. Normally, any questions about faculty salaries should be directed either to the Director of Public Information in the Office of Communications (if the request comes from outside the University) or the the Academic Personnel (if the request comes from a University employee).

Personal Information

Personal information includes any information not designated as confidential or non-personal and the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of privacy.

Members of the public do not have access to personal information; however, all personal and non-confidential records concerning an individual are accessible by the individual.

Non-Confidential Information

Non-confidential academic review records include:

  1. A department letter setting forth a recommendation in connection with an academic personnel action concerning the individual, such as appointment, promotion, merit increase, mid-career appraisal, reappointment, or non-reappointment.
  2. Individual evaluations of the candidate and recommendations from the dean, the Council on Academic Personnel, the Executive Vice Chancellor and the Chancellor in connection with an academic personnel action.

Confidential Information

Confidential information includes any medical, psychological, or health care information about an individual and academic personnel review records that contain the following:

  1. Letters of evaluation received by the University with the understanding that they were confidential and not be shown to the candidate (and any other document which would disclose the identity of a correspondent);
  2. The chair’s letter setting forth personal recommendation in connection with an academic personnel action concerning the individual, such as appointment, promotion, merit increase, mid-career appraisal, reappointment, or non reappointment; and
  3. Reports, recommendations, and other related documents from campus and departmental ad hoc committees concerning evaluations in connection with an academic personnel action.
  4. Information placed in the review file by a department chair that provides reference to the scholarly credentials of the individuals who have submitted letters of evaluation or their relationship to the candidate (UCI-AP-11, Identification of Outside Evaluators).

Members of the public do not have access to such confidential information. Access by University officers and employees to academic confidential or personal records is strictly limited to those who need access in the performance of their duties. Governmental agencies have access to confidential and personal information when required by state and federal law.

C. Access to Confidential and Non-Confidential Academic Personnel Files

Requests for Access to Non-Confidential Academic Personnel Files (excluding ongoing personnel actions)

The following guidelines are to be observed on this campus with respect to requests to inspect non-confidential material in academic personnel files:

  1. Each academic unit will devise its own procedures to permit access by an individual to nonconfidential material maintained on that individual by the unit. Access should be possible within a reasonable period of time after each request. (If, for example, confidential and nonconfidential material are filed together, a reasonable time may be allowed for the separation of the two.)
  2. A request by an individual to see non-confidential material in the individual’s file in Academic Personnel (the official file of record) should be made directly to Academic Personnel. Three working days should be allowed between receipt of the request in Academic Personnel and the time the material will be ready.
  3. In all cases, the academic appointee must inspect the record in the office where the file resides. An individual has the right to receive a copy of non-confidential material in the individual’s file.
  4. See APM Policy 160-20-c(6) for a list of all affected academic titles.

Requests for Access to Confidential Academic Personnel Files (excluding ongoing personnel actions)

Effective August 1, 1992, an individual may request access to the confidential review material in his/her file in redacted form.The definition of “redaction” is to include only the removal of name, title, institutional/organizational affiliation, and relational information contained below the signature block of a letter of evaluation.

When an individual requests access to confidential academic review records (as defined in APM 160-20-b(1)), the records shall be subject to redaction as follows:

  1. For a letter of evaluation or statement from an individual evaluator, redaction shall consist of the removal of name, title, organizational/institutional affiliation, and relational information contained below the signature block of the letter of evaluation.
  2. For reports or recommendations of an administrative ad hoc committee, redaction shall consist of the removal of the names of individual members of the committee.
  3. For information that references the scholarly credentials or relationship to the candidate of the authors of letters of evaluation, no access shall be provided to the individual.
  4. Note: For confidential documents (including individual, department, and administrative letters, as well as committee reports and recommendations) placed in an academic personnel review file prior to September 1, 1992, campuses may either (a) redact such documents to remove the identifiers such as name, title, date, and organizational/institutional affiliation, or any relational statement or comment that would serve to identify the author(s) of the comment, or (b) prepare a comprehensive summary.

For all personnel reviews prior to August 1, 1992, the individual has the opportunity to receive, upon request, a comprehensive oral or written summary of the substance of confidential documentation about that individual in the aggregate. This summary may not disclose the identities of persons who are the sources of confidential information and may not identify separately the evaluations and recommendations in an academic personnel action by any of the confidential levels of review. Written summaries (except summaries written by the chair) are submitted to the Council on Academic Personnel for review before being provided to the individual.

Requests for Summaries of or Access to Confidential Material
All requests for access to confidential material in academic personnel files, except those mandated in APM Policy 220-80-d (i.e., redacted copies provided in the course of review at the department level), should be made to the Executive Vice Chancellor by use of Form UCI-AP- 51. This applies to all files, wherever they are maintained. The completed form should be forwarded via Academic Personnel.

D. Safeguards Against the Misuse of Confidential Documents

Some individuals have understandable concerns that the use of confidential documents may sometimes produce unjust results. Various elements in the personnel review process provide safeguards against potential injustice from the use of confidential documents, while still retaining the benefits of their use. These elements are:

  1. An academic personnel process in which final administrative decisions are based solely on the personnel review file;
  2. The opportunity for the individual to receive a comprehensive summer (for reviews prior to September 1, 1992) of the substance of confidential information in the review file; or a redacted copy of all confidential materials (for reviews after September 1, 1992)
  3. The opportunity for the individual to receive a comprehensive summary (for reviews prior to September 1, 1992) of the substance of confidential information in the review file; or a redacted copy of all confidential materials (for reviews after September 1, 1992);
  4. A multi-tiered process typically involving two or three different faculty review bodies and two or three different administrative review levels; and
  5. Clearly defined grievance procedures.
E. Definition of the Academic Review File and Other Academic Personnel Records

Final administrative decisions concerning appointment, promotion, merit increase, mid-career appraisal, reappointment, and non-reappointment are based solely upon relevant materials contained in an individual’s personnel review file (see also APM 160, Appendix B – Additional Academic Personnel Policies Pertaining to Academic Records).

Personnel Review File

The personnel review files is that portion of an individual’s academic personnel record which is maintained by the University for purposes of considering personnel actions under the relevant criteria, and shall contain only material relevant to these purposes (see also APM 200-30).

Note: The official University file of record is normally that file which is kept in the Office of Academic Personnel. Files for volunteer clinical appointees and house-staff in the School of Medicine are exceptions (Section 721-11 of Campus Policy and Procedures Manual contains a listing of categories of records and the Office of Record for each record). All other files pertaining to academic personnel appointment, merit increase, etc., are “working” or unofficial files.

Other Academic Personnel Records

Other academic personnel records pertaining to the individual as an employee of the University may include the following material:

  • Miscellaneous correspondence
  • Leave Records
  • Documents relating to administrative appointments
  • Employment history other than that contained in the personnel review file
  • Retirements documents
  • Payroll documents
  • Academic Senate correspondence concerning the individual
  • Other similar information

Such materials shall not be referred to or considered in connection with a recommendation or decision in a personnel action involving an individual unless they are made part of the individual’s personnel review file by an appropriate administrative officer.

F. Opportunity to Correct or Delete

An academic appointee may request, in writing, to the appropriate officer:

  1. That a statement of fact in an academic personnel record pertaining to that individual be corrected;
  2. That material be deleted if it was improperly included; or
  3. That a statement by the individual, in response to material in the academic personnel record of the individual , be included in the record.

Withing a reasonable time period (not more than 30 calendar days), the administrative officer will, with advice from the Council on Academic Personnel, determine whether the requested correction or deletion will be made. In any event, the individual has the right to have inserted in the appropriate record any statement the individual wishes in response to or commenting upon the challenged material .

Requests for Amendment of Academic Personnel Files:
All requests from appointees that files be amended (other than routine updates, etc.) should be put in writing and should include a clear statement of the change desired and the reason for it. The statement may be sent directly to the Office of Academic Personnel or be given to the head of the academic unit. If the latter, the head of the unit should forward the request, at once, along with a recommendation on the request, to the Office of Academic Personnel.

See University Policy: APM Policy 160-30

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