The University of Colorado Boulder is using a pilot program for the 2021/22 hiring cycle to conduct additional reference checks on final candidates for tenured faculty appointments. The reference check pilot program will enable CU Boulder to collect and review information about a candidate's conduct at their previous institutions, specifically conduct related to sexual misconduct, harassment and/or discrimination – prior to making hiring decisions. 

Applicants to tenured faculty appointments will be advised within the job posting that CU Boulder will conduct reference checks into potential misconduct and that the campus will not be able to continue to consider any applicant who fails to authorize the reference check. This reference check is separate from the current process of verifying a candidate’s qualifications by soliciting outside letters of recommendation and running a background check.

To conduct the reference check, Central Human Resources (CHR) would contact previous institutions of any finalist to ask whether there are substantiated findings of harassment, sexual misconduct, or discriminatory behaviors similar to the conduct under the University of Colorado Sexual Misconduct, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking Policy. This reference check will be conducted concurrently with the required background check to avoid potential delays to the hiring process.

The appropriate dean and department chair, in consultation with OIEC, University Counsel, and Faculty Affairs, will perform an individual assessment of the information received, including the nature of the conduct, length of time passed, any corrective action taken, and any explanation offered by the candidate. After reviewing the information, the dean and department chair, in consultation with OIEC, University Counsel, and Faculty Affairs, will determine whether the candidate should still be eligible to be considered for the position. 

The University of Colorado Boulder is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment where all students, faculty, and staff can achieve academic and professional aspirations free from violence, discrimination, harassment, exploitation, or intimidation.  We believe the hiring and recruitment practices for our faculty should reflect this university commitment by including additional measures to prevent sexual misconduct and sexual harassment on campus. A faculty appointment with tenure has particular long-term impacts. The pilot reference check program will allow the university to ask former employers about an applicant’s conduct in a previous appointment, enabling us to make better faculty hiring decisions by exposing any concerning behavior that might not be discovered through a background check or outside letters.

The pilot faculty reference check program is recommended for implementation within the current hiring cycle (2021/2022).  There will be an evaluation of the pilot planned after 1 year to assess whether the process should continue and if so, to make any needed improvements.