Faculty Records and Confidentiality

Some information about Oregon State University faculty, including salary and rank, are part of the public record. Other data such as social security number and birth year are confidential. This chapter provides an overview of the guidelines and policies that pertain to faculty records and periodic evaluations.

Personal and personnel records are limited to those records that are directly related to the individual's conditions of employment, or to his or her periodic evaluation. They include:

". . . records containing information kept by the institution, school, division, or department concerning a faculty member and furnished by the faculty member or by others, including, but not limited to, information as to discipline, counseling, membership activity, other behavioral records, professional preparation and experience, professional performance (e.g., assignment and workload, quality of teaching, research, and service to the institution), personnel data relating to such matters as promotions, tenure, leaves, retirement credits and the like, and professional activities external to the institution, including, but not limited to, awards, recognition, research activities, and travel." (OAR 580-22-065).

Other records (which cannot meet the definition in OAR 580 22-065) are maintained elsewhere, e.g., general correspondence written by the faculty member does not belong in his or her employment record.

Location of Personnel Files. Oregon Revised Statutes limit evaluative files to three. At OSU, one personnel file is kept by the college or department in which the faculty member is employed; one in the office of the faculty member's dean, director or vice president; and one in the Office of Human Resources. The head of the academic unit maintaining the files is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality and security of the records.

In those instances when a faculty member is appointed in two or more academic or administrative units, the faculty member's major administrative unit shall maintain the personnel file. All other departments or units which maintain records of a faculty member shall use such files for fiscal and administrative purposes only and shall not use such files for evaluation of performance.

Public Information

General Personnel Data. Certain information about the faculty member may be released upon request without the consent of the faculty member:

  • Contract end date
  • Dates of employment
  • Employing department
  • Educational background as listed in the OSU Catalog
  • FTE
  • Job title
  • Publications (requests for lists of current publications should be directed to the faculty member)
  • Rank
  • Salary
  • Supervisor's name
  • Birthday (as distinguished from birth year)

Public Only if in Staff Directory. If the faculty member is listed in the Staff Directory, the following information may also be released upon request without the consent of the faculty member:

  • Current address, if given in the Staff Directory
  • Home telephone number, if given in the Staff Directory
  • Work telephone number, if given in the Staff Directory

Confidential Information

All other information contained in faculty employment records is considered confidential and may not be released to any person or agency without the faculty member's written consent or prior approval by the University legal adviser. This includes

  • Social security number -- confidential
  • Birth year -- confidential
  • Marital status -- confidential
  • Reason for leaving the University -- confidential
  • Sick leave accrual -- confidential
  • Copies of periodic performance evaluations -- confidential
  • Retirement benefit status -- confidential
  • Grievances, reprimands -- confidential

Confidential information may not be released to the faculty member by telephone unless the faculty member's identity has been positively confirmed by the department chair or head.

Exceptions to this policy are limited to

  • University personnel who have a demonstrably legitimate need to review the records in order to fulfill their official, professional responsibility with regard to the faculty member.
  • Upon receipt of a subpoena or other court order or process or request by a federal or state investigative agency seeking access to faculty records, the recipient's unit head must notify the University's legal adviser prior to releasing any confidential information. The legal adviser will determine whether or not appropriate University personnel should appear in court to test the validity of the subpoena, court order, or process.
  • Personnel records files more than 25 years old as outlined in ORS 351.065.

Access by the Faculty Member to Personnel Records Files

Faculty members are allowed full access to their own personnel records files kept by the University, college, or department, except for the following records:

  • Confidential letters and other confidential information submitted prior to July 1, 1975. The Oregon Revised Statutes provide for review of these materials after editing to provide for anonymity of the author(s). Contact the Office of Human Resources for further information on these procedures.
  • Pre-employment confidential letters and other confidentially submitted pre-employment evaluations received by the University, college or department after July 1, 1975. Evaluations submitted as part of an OSU faculty member's review for other OSU positions are also considered "pre-employment," and are also confidential. The Oregon Revised Statutes provide for review of these materials after editing to provide for anonymity of the author(s). Contact the Office of Human Resources for further information on these procedures.

The faculty member may review his or her personnel records file with the supervisor or in the Office of Human Resources. The file may be reviewed in the office in which it is maintained and may not be removed from that office.

To provide a faculty member access to information and evaluations submitted in confidence, the University, college, or department official shall disclose to the faculty member upon request the substance of the confidential items in the personnel records file (keeping the name and content that would reveal the source confidential).

The faculty member shall have the opportunity to enter into the file a rebuttal, refutation, or explanation of any materials in his or her personnel file. As described in the University Promotion and Tenure Guidelines (Chapter 8), department supervisors are expected to include in their letters of evaluation a summary of all solicited evaluations -- confidential and non-confidential -- received as part of a promotion and tenure review. The faculty member may enter into the dossier a rebuttal, explanation, or comment for these or any other evaluations in the dossier. Should the faculty member request it, a faculty committee appointed and authorized by the Faculty Senate shall examine the contents of the faculty member's file or dossier to verify that all statements therein have been provided or summarized.

Peer and Student Teaching Evaluations

Evaluations of teaching by faculty peers and by students provide invaluable information and direction for faculty members to improve their own teaching. Peer evaluations, arranged with a colleague, include review of lecture notes, reading materials, and examinations; observation of several lectures; and a signed written evaluation by the peer.

Anonymous evaluations by all students in the class are required each term for each class the faculty member is teaching. A copy of tabulated results must be provided to the faculty member; a duplicate copy shall be placed in the faculty member's personnel records file. Students may also be solicited by department chairs or heads or deans for signed letters of evaluation to be used in assessing the faculty member's performance. Unless the faculty member has signed a "Voluntary Waiver of Non-Confidentiality" such as solicited letters may not be confidential.

The University will not solicit nor accept anonymous oral or written evaluations from students or other reviewers, expect a) tabulated student evaluations, and b_ solicited promotion and tenure evaluations for faculty who have signed a "Voluntary Waiver of Non-Confidentiality" for a particular promotion and tenure review year. All requests for evaluation of a faculty member sent without a waiver shall be accompanied by a statement that the faculty member shall have access to the evaluation.

Evaluations Received by Telephone

Any evaluation received by telephone shall be documented in the faculty member's files by means of a written summary of the conversation, with the names of the conversants identified.

Nondisclosure About Race, Religion, Political Affiliation, or Sexual Preference

Faculty members have the right to decline a response to requests for information pertaining to race, religion, sex, political affiliation, or sexual preference unless such information is required by state statute or federal law, rules, or regulations. Any request must stipulate the purpose for the information and the individual's right to decline.

Faculty Data for Research

Data about faculty members may be provided for research, providing:

  1. There are adequate provisions to conceal from the individuals doing the research the identity of the individuals whose personnel data or information is being provided for the research. If the confidentiality of faculty records would be jeopardized in any way by the release of information for research purposes, the written consent of the faculty member must also be obtained prior to the release of the information.
  2. Approval is granted by the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and the Human Subjects Committee.