Pilot Program – Reference Checks

Applies to Academic Senate Ladder Rank Professors and Professors of Teaching Series, at all ranks (Assistant, Associate, Full)
Effective July 1, 2020

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community dedicated to the advancement, application, and transmission of knowledge and creative endeavors through academic excellence, where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in a safe and secure environment, free of violence, harassment, discrimination, exploitation, or intimidation. To support this commitment, as well as a commitment to addressing all forms of academic misconduct, UC Irvine will implement a pilot program for the 20-21 and 21-22 hiring years to conduct institutional reference checks on final candidates, a candidate for a position to whom the department or other hiring unit would like to extend a formal offer of appointment, for senate academic appointments to the Professor and Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full). The current faculty hiring process requires that candidates provide information regarding their qualifications in research/scholarship, teaching, and contributions to inclusive excellence in AP Recruit. The pilot reference check program will further require candidates to sign a form in AP Recruit that authorizes UC Irvine to conduct an inquiry on the final candidate in each search as to whether there were any instances of professional misconduct at their previous institution/s. The institutional reference checks do not involve any process for criminal background checks, which are covered by other University policies.

The pilot program will follow these steps to conduct institutional reference checks for finalists to whom the department or other hiring unit would like to extend a formal offer of appointment into a Ladder Rank Professor or Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full).

  1. The campus shall include the following statement in the description field when creating a recruitment in AP Recruit for senate Ladder Rank Professor and Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks, providing notice that UCI will conduct institutional reference checks on final candidates prior to making a formal appointment.
    The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community dedicated to the advancement, application, and transmission of knowledge and creative endeavors through academic excellence, where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in a safe and secure environment, free of violence, harassment, discrimination, exploitation, or intimidation. With this commitment as well as a commitment to addressing all forms of academic misconduct, UC Irvine conducts institutional reference checks for candidates finalists to whom the department or other hiring unit would like to extend a formal offer of appointment into Ladder Rank Professor or Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full).  The institutional reference checks involve contacting the administration of the applicant’s previous institution(s) to ask whether there have been substantiated findings of misconduct that would violate the University’s Faculty Code of Conduct.  To implement this process, UC Irvine requires all candidates of Ladder Rank Professor or Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full) to complete, sign, and upload the form entitled “Authorization to Release Information” into AP RECRUIT as part of their application. If the candidate does not include the signed authorization to release information with the application materials, the application will be considered incomplete. As with any incomplete application, the application will not receive further consideration. Although all applicants for faculty recruitments must complete the entire application, only finalists (i.e., those to whom the department or other hiring unit would like to extend a formal offer) considered for Ladder Rank Professor or Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full) positions will be subject to institutional reference checks.
  2. All applicants for these searches will be asked to sign and upload an “Authorization to Release Information” form into AP Recruit. All recruitments will have the form set to default as a required document for an applicant.  The Recruit Analyst should change the document from “Required” to “Optional” if the recruitment is NOT a Senate Ladder Rank Professor or Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks.  If the candidate does not include the signed authorization with the application materials in AP RECRUIT, the application will be incomplete and, as with any incomplete application, will not receive further consideration.
  3. When the selection of a finalist or finalists, candidates for a position to whom the department or hiring unit would like to extend a formal offer of appointment, has been made, the Dean and/or Department Chair should send the completed release form by email to AP: Tanisha Willoughby – Academic Employee and Labor Relations Manager (tanisha.willoughby@uci.edu). Academic Personnel will contact the academic personnel office (or equivalent) at the previous institution(s) where the finalist/s is/has been employed. This will occur concurrently with the negotiation of the terms in the Temporary Offer Letter (TOL) or after the TOL has been issued, but in any event the expectation is that the institutional reference check will not delay the timeline for making an appointment insofar as it should be completed within 10 working days while the conditions of the appointment are being agreed upon by the hiring authorities.
  4. Departments selecting a candidate through the search waiver process (e.g., Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow hiring program, career partner hiring program, and the Distinguished Professor hiring program), in accordance with the “Guidelines Search Waivers and Search Exemptions for Academic Appointees at the University of California,” must initiate the institutional reference check process for any senate position that includes Ladder Rank Professor or Professor of Teaching series, at all ranks (i.e., assistant, associate, and full). The Dean and/or the Department Chair must follow the same steps to initiate the institutional reference check process while the recruitment is being conducted and wait for the reference check clearance before finalizing the appointment of faculty through these hires.
  5. Academic Personnel will provide the signed release to the previous institution(s) and ask for information about misconduct related to teaching, research, service, and (if applicable) clinical care. Academic Personnel will limit its inquiry to substantiated findings of misconduct and associated discipline related to teaching, research, service and (if applicable) clinical care. In accordance with the signed authorization, the campus is entitled to this information, even if confidential, including any materials that have been sealed or agreed to be withheld pursuant to a prior agreement or court proceeding.
  6. The confidentiality of the institutional reference check will be respected and only those with a need to know will be apprised of the findings of the institutional reference check. The Office of Academic Personnel will conduct the institutional reference check and share the findings from the institutional reference check with the relevant dean and the finalist. The relevant department chair (or other unit leader) and members of the search committee do not have a need to know.
  7. If an institutional reference check reveals a substantiated incident of professional misconduct, the hiring authorities can, should, and will take that information, as well as the finalist’s response to the revelation of the substantiated incident of professional misconduct, into account and make a final judgement about the appointment. To do so, the hiring authorities will seriously consider the recommendation of a peer review committee composed of three tenured faculty members who do not have a stake in the appointment (i.e., faculty who are not in the School). This committee will be constituted by the Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and subject to confidentiality just as others involved in the hiring process and institutional reference check are subject to confidentiality.
  8. If a finalist is not appointed by the hiring authority, the relevant dean, chair, and faculty will determine how best to proceed with the search. As with all cases in which an effort to recruit a finalist is not successful, the dean, chair, and faculty will decide whether to proceed with another candidate (i.e., finalist) or discontinue the search. If a second candidate is advanced to the status of finalist, as defined above, that person will be required to submit to an institutional reference check as per the policy.
  9. This pilot institutional reference check program applies to final candidates selected for hiring and appointment with no previous UC appointment as well as candidates with current or prior UC appointments. For those candidates with previous UC appointments, the Office of Academic Personnel may contact the current or previous UC campus(es) for any records related to disciplinary investigations or disciplinary action.
  10. In order to protect a candidate’s privacy, all information received in connection with the institutional reference check process will be treated as confidential and retained in accordance with UC policy. Should the candidate be offered and accept the position, any information received shall be securely maintained and held in the campus Academic Personnel Office.

Any questions regarding this pilot program may be directed to Tanisha Willoughby, Academic Employee and Labor Relations Manager (tanisha.willoughby@uci.edu) or 949.824.5103)

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