October 11, 2019
After considerable consultation with the Academic Senate, I am pleased to announce the commencement of the Institutional Reference Check pilot program first announced in December 2018. The three-year pilot program is effective November 1, 2019 and will allow Academic Personnel Services to conduct Institutional Reference Checks (IRCs) on the final candidate in a given search for academic appointments conferring tenure or security of employment. At the end of the second pilot year, I will convene a Senate-Administration workgroup to examine the results of the program and consider converting the pilot program into policy.
The pilot program will enable UC San Diego to gather information about candidates’ conduct in their previous appointments that may be important to appointment decisions. Specifically, the purpose of the IRC is to ascertain whether the candidate has engaged in any substantiated misconduct at their previous institution. For the purposes of this pilot, “substantiated misconduct” is defined as:
1) Formal findings by the Title IX office (based on a completed investigation and written report) of violations of the institution’s Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment Policy (SVSH) or Consensual Relationship policy;
2) Formal findings by the Research Integrity Office (based on a completed investigation and written report) of violations of the institution’s policy on research integrity or misconduct (or equivalent);
3) Other formal findings (based on a completed investigation and written report) of violations of institutional policy related to clinical activity or violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct (or equivalent).
Institutional reference checks do not include criminal background checks.
The pilot program will follow these steps for all recruitments posted on or after November 1, 2019, for appointments conferring tenure or security of employment at UC San Diego:
1. The campus shall include a statement in the job ad posting for all academic positions conferring tenure or security of employment, providing notice to applicants that UC San Diego will conduct institutional reference checks on the final candidate in a given search prior to hiring.
2. Applicants for faculty appointments conferring tenure or security of employment will be required to upload a signed “Authorization to Release Information” form into UC Recruit. If the candidate does not include the signed authorization in UC Recruit, the application will be incomplete, and, as with any incomplete application, will not receive further consideration.
3. When the decision of the first-choice candidate has been made by the department, the department chair will notify the candidate of the selection and shall inform the candidate that the IRC will be initiated. The candidate will communicate whether they wish to proceed, or may choose to withdraw their application, in which case no further action will be taken. If the candidate wishes to proceed, the department chair will submit the AP Recruit search report with the candidate identified as the selected applicant.
4. APS shall contact the academic personnel office (or equivalent) in the candidate’s current institution and/or one or more of the previous institutions where the candidate has been employed. This may occur concurrently with department negotiations with the candidate or after initial appointment terms have been determined. When the institutional reference check is initiated, Academic Personnel will provide the signed release to the previous institution(s) and ask for information regarding any substantiated misconduct related to teaching, research, service, and (if applicable) clinical care. Academic Personnel will not contact the candidate’s current or previous academic department unless there is no other office of record for faculty misconduct at the institution and only after notifying the (UC San Diego) department chair.
5. Academic Personnel may ask follow-up questions (of the same office(s) originally contacted) relevant to information received. Academic Personnel will limit its inquiry to substantiated findings of misconduct (see definition above) and associated discipline related to teaching, research, service and (if applicable) clinical care. In accordance with the signed authorization, UC San Diego is entitled to request and receive this information, even if previously classified as confidential, including any materials that have been sealed or agreed to be withheld pursuant to a prior agreement or court proceeding.
6. Academic Personnel will assemble an individualized IRC dossier of all information received, including the nature and duration of the conduct, the length of time passed since the conduct occurred, and any corrective action taken. APS will share the information with the candidate and allow the candidate the opportunity to respond to the material. Alternatively, the candidate may choose to withdraw their application, in which case no further action will be taken. The full IRC dossier, including any explanation/s offered by the candidate will be forwarded to the Sr. Associate Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs (Sr. AVC-AA). The Sr. AVC-AA will consult with the EVC, dean, department chair and others as appropriate, to determine whether the candidate is still eligible for consideration for the position.
7. If it is determined that the candidate is still eligible, the department will proceed to assemble an appointment file for consideration by campus reviewers, including CAP. The IRC dossier information will not be added to the appointment file or shared with campus reviewers.
8. If it is determined that the candidate is not eligible, the department chair will notify the candidate and a second choice candidate may be considered, subject to the institutional reference check process.
9. This pilot program applies to final candidates selected for appointment, regardless of current or prior UC appointments. This program includes candidates for any appointment conferring tenure or security of employment, whether the candidate is being considered for appointment following an open recruitment or as the result of a search waiver.
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 a position, any information received shall be securely maintained and held in the campus Academic Personnel Office.
Academic Personnel Services will host a number of training seminars on this pilot program in the fall quarter as part of its continuing Learn at Lunch series. Recruitment instructions are also available on the Recruitment Services webpage: https://go.ucsd.edu/2M5g3vE
In addition to the central Institutional Reference Checks, Divisions are expected to make use of identified Best Practices: https://blink.ucsd.edu/HR/supervising/hiring/background/conduct.html and University Policy: https://policy.ucop.edu/doc/4010394/PPSM-21 in hiring. For instance, if the candidate recommended for hire is a current or former employee of the University, the hiring manager should review the employee’s personnel file.
Any questions regarding this pilot program may be directed to Cindy Palmer, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Academic Personnel (firstname.lastname@example.org - 858-534-3133).