Faculty Senate

Case Western Reserve University
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Faculty Conciliation and frame image
Mediation Program


The Faculty Conciliation and Mediation Program provides an alternative to the grievance process for faculty members to resolve conflicts between and among themselves. This program is available at no cost to faculty members of the university. In addition to providing conciliation and mediation internally, the program also makes outside mediators available as needed. Faculty members who are experiencing a conflict or disagreement that interferes with their work are encouraged to request a meeting with the conciliation counselor to explore the nature of the conflict and the various alternatives available for resolving the conflict. Conversations with the conciliation counselor and other mediators are confidential and completely voluntary.

You can contact the conciliation counselor directly at 216.368.3585 or email conciliator@case.edu. You can also phone the office of the Secretary of the University Faculty at 216.368.4316.

The Faculty Conciliation and Mediation Program was established permanently in April 2011, following an 18-month pilot program.

What is conciliation/mediation?

A confidential, semi-structured process in which an impartial third party helps disputing parties resolve their work-related problems or conflicts. It is a non-judgmental, voluntary process that helps parties find mutually satisfying resolutions to their problems without the use of formal grievance proceedings.

How does it work?

One party to a conflict contacts the conciliation counselor and asks for an initial meeting to determine the nature of the problem and explore possible options for resolving it. Options may include:

  • - Individual consultation
  • - Facilitated dialogue
  • - Conciliation/mediation by the conciliation counselor
  • - Mediation by an outside mediator
  • - Referral to another source

If conciliation/mediation is desired, the initiating party or the conciliation counselor will contact the other party to determine their interest in participating in the process. If both parties agree, the process proceeds with the conciliation counselor serving as a mediator. For a variety of reasons (confidentiality, conflict of interest, or legal issues), one or both parties may request a referral to an outside professional mediator to be provided at university expense.

What topics are appropriate for conciliation and mediation?

- Complaints against the administration or an officer of the university
- Procedural disputes regarding the promotion and tenure process
- Resource allocation
- Personal or professional disputes with a faculty colleague
- Issues of respect and cooperation

What issues are not appropriate for conciliation and mediation?

- Violation of the university constitution or by-laws
- Academic misconduct
- Decisions on tenure and promotion
- Sexual harassment
- Discrimination
- Research misconduct
- Any issue in which legal action is pending

Who will know about the mediation?

Under Ohio law, the content of a mediation with the conciliation counselor and any outside mediator is confidential. Only the names of individuals involved, meeting dates, and whether a resolution was reached will be disclosed to the Office of the Provost.

Is the grievance process still available?

Yes. The grievance process is still available to faculty when there is an alleged violation of university policies and procedures. Although conciliation and mediation are recommended alternatives or precursors to the grievance process, they are not required.

Do I waive my rights to filing a grievance later if I elect conciliation/medition now?

No. Participants in a counciliation or mediation will be asked to suspend any grievance process until the conciliation or mediation is completed.

How do I initiate the process?

Phone the conciliation counselor directly at 216.368.3585 or email conciliator@case.edu, or phone the office of the Secretary of the University Faculty at 216.368.4316.

Who is the conciliation counselor?

Wilbur (Bill) Leatherberry, a Professor Emeritus at the law school, is the Conciliation Counselor. Professor Leatherberry is a dual alumnus of the University, earning both his B.A. (Adelbert 1965) and his J.D. (1968) here.

Professor Leatherberry taught courses on contracts, insurance, and commercial law at the law school. He developed and taught a skills course introducing law students to interviewing, counseling, and negotiation. That was a precursor of the school's current CaseArc skills courses that now are required of all students. From 1992-2000, he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Professor Leatherberry has served on the Faculty Senate, its By-Laws Committee, and several Faculty Senate Grievance Committees. He chaired the ad hoc committee that designed and recommended the conciliation process. He helped to design the Alternative Dispute Resolution program for the United States District Court for the NOrthern District of Ohio. He organized and conducted training for the neutrals who serve in that program. He is an experienced mediator, both in the District Court program and as a private practitioner.

Learn more about Professor Emeritus Wilbur (Bill) Leatherberry.

Comparing Grievance Process to Conciliation/Mediation

grievance process conciliation/mediation
An adversarial, rights-based process A conciliatory, interests-based process
An entitlement. The complainant grieves and the university is obligated to respond A mutually voluntary process -- either party may request it, and either may accept or decline
An alleged violation of policies and procedures Broad range of conflicts and disputes
Committee hears facts and makes recommendations to President of the University Seeks common understanding and mutual agreement
President makes final decision or determination Parties search for a mutually acceptable solution
May result in redress for the complainant Parties decide on an acceptable solution within their authority
Often stretches out over a period of months Can be completed in as little as a few weeks
Is confidential Is confidential, protected by law
A formal and structured proceeding An informal and facilitated process

PDF of Faculty Conciliation and Mediation Brochure