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Q: Hiring practices of Universities relating to felons ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Hiring practices of Universities relating to felons
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: broofstokes-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 13 Sep 2005 13:19 PDT
Expires: 13 Oct 2005 13:19 PDT
Question ID: 567672
Will colleges hire a felon as a professor who has completed a masters
degree or Phd, if the offense was non-violent and over ten years in
her/his past? If so, which colleges and fields of study are most
likely to give someone an opportunity?

Request for Question Clarification by nancylynn-ga on 15 Sep 2005 09:58 PDT
Hello broofstokes-ga:

The question as you have posed it is so broad it's nearly impossible to answer.

I looked up your previous question at:

It seems you're pursuing a career teaching geography, and that you're
interested primarily in schools in the Southwest. So, I'm trying to
angle my research to meet those precise parameters.

Regarding the field or subject matter you're hired to teach: hiring
policies tend to be general and applicable to all faculty hired in all
fields of study. However, the Patriot Act is having some influence on
some institutions' hiring policies, and some schools may not hire you
for any job that involves handling toxins, or a job that would include
access to certain areas of the school or to residence halls.

I have found quite a bit of information about hiring policies --
including policy re: criminal convictions -- for universities in the
Southwest, including Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas. (Some states and
schools have detailed policies regarding hiring people with criminal
records, others don't.)

I can also give you some leads to check out other schools in other
areas of the country.

Would that be sufficient as an answer?

Best Regards, 
Google Answers Researcher

Clarification of Question by broofstokes-ga on 15 Sep 2005 11:36 PDT
Yes. The information behind your last two paragraphs is what I am after. 

I just want to know if pursuing a teaching career in, say Geography,
would be worth my while. I was convicted of mail fraud over ten years
ago, did just a few months in federal prison, and have since been a
model citizen.

I would appreciate as much reference material that you can provide.

Subject: Re: Hiring practices of Universities relating to felons
Answered By: nancylynn-ga on 15 Sep 2005 18:05 PDT
Hello again broofstokes-ga: 

Several states' boards of regents -- including Arizona and California
-- are currently revising guidelines for hiring instructors who have a
criminal record. Other states and schools merely seem to require
disclosure; others offer few, or no, specifics; some don't even
mention the topic at their Web sites.

Regarding schools that are very vague about disclosure issues, you may
want to e-mail or phone the school before filling out an application.
(Contact Human Resources or Employment Services.) HR should be able to
tell you if the nature of the felony -- or if the amount of time
that's passed without additional arrests or indictments -- makes it
likely that you will be given full consideration. Or, they can save
you time by telling you that you have virtually no chance of

In cases -- and there are quite a few --  when a university doesn't
note anything about a required background check, I would emphatically
recommend that you volunteer full information about your conviction,
while emphasizing that you have been "a model citizen" ever since.
(You may also want to provide a few character references along with
professional references on your CV.)

It just seems prudent to volunteer that information. Should a school
learn about your conviction after you've been hired, it seems likely
that administration will, at the least, blow a gasket. Also, schools
that may not require a pre-hiring check, may well have a policy --
that my research failed to reveal -- that prescribes firing or
disciplining any employee who failed to divulge their criminal record
during the application process.

Here's what I was able to find about some Southwestern universities:


In 2004, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) voted to initiate stricter 
hiring practices after it was discovered that a University of Arizona 
professor had been accused -- but not convicted -- of murder many years 

According to columnist Laura Keslar of the Arizona Daily Wildcat (November 
24, 2004 edition):

"In August [2004], they updated their employment policies to include 
mandatory background checks.

"While the new policies do not prevent the state universities from hiring 
convicted felons, they do make sure that at least the universities will be 
aware of the criminal records of their employees.

"What's best about this current policy is its leniency, which will continue 
to allow the university to hire people who are talented but still protect 
the students, staff and faculty at the university.

"In other words, ABOR has fulfilled its duty. Its policies are strict enough 
to prevent some homicidal maniac from going postal on the students, but 
lenient . . . ."

Keslar noted it was then up to the AZ State Legislature to make the Board of 
Regents policy law.

This Nov. 19, 2004 article by Eric Swedlund in the ARIZONA DAILY STAR :
Suggests that the state legislator who was pushing for reform, held off 
after ABOR began to voluntarily reform its hiring guidelines.

According to ABOR's 2004 manual for prospective employees at state 
schools, there was leeway for hiring ex-felons, subject to review based on a 
somewhat vague set of criteria. You can review that portion of the manual, 
Policy 6-709,  at:

"In considering whether to hire, retain, or terminate an employee who has
been convicted of a felony offense prior to or after employment, the
universities shall consider the following factors:

1. Whether the nature of the felony is relevant to the duties of the

2. If the felonies were committed by a minor for which proceedings
were held under the jurisdiction of a juvenile or an adult court;

3. If the employee or prospective employee has been pardoned or if
the sentence has been commuted or reversed on appeal; and

4. The employee's or prospective employee's employment history
since the commission of the felony."

You will have to agree to a criminal background check and a
fingerprint check. Still, there certainly seems to be wiggle room here
for a non-violent offender.

Here's a Feb. 15, 2005 memo, "Pre-Employment Screening Policy," issued by 
"Allison M. Vaillancourt, Associate Vice President for Human Resources"at 
the University of Arizona. This memo reflects a new addendum from ABOR:

"University departments will be required to conduct a Standard 
Pre-Employment Screening on all new hires to verify educational credentials, 
license/certification, employment histories and job performance.

"Finalists who indicate a prior felony conviction.
Employees of the University of Arizona Police Department (UAPD). 
Pre-employment screening for these individuals shall be conducted in 
accordance with UAPD hiring protocols."

Here's the key passage: "Evidence of criminal convictions or other adverse 
information will not automatically disqualify candidates from 

On March 7, 2005, the University of Arizona released this memo: "Human 
Resources Classified Staff Policy and Procedures," which is an addendum to 
the previously cited ABOR Policy 6-709:

"When considering whether to employ an individual with a criminal history, 
the hiring authority, in partnership with Human Resources, will assess the 
relevance of a criminal conviction to job duties, the date of the most 
recent offense, the nature of the offense, and the accuracy of the 
information the individual provided on the employment application."

Arizona State University also follows ABOR's Policy 6-709 :

Click on  "ACD 126 Policy-Background Check Policy"
to bring up:
Click On:
"Position Specific Background Checks":

"A fingerprint check will be done to determine if the finalist for a 
position designated as security or safety-sensitive has a criminal record 
history and to consider the effect of such a history on the finalist's 
suitability for university employment. . .

". . . When considering whether to employ an individual with a criminal 
history, during the background investigation review, many factors will be 
assessed, including:

the relevance of a criminal conviction to the posted job duties

the date of the most recent offense

the nature of the offense(s) including its severity

the relative threat to the security of ASU or its employees and students

the accuracy of the information the individual provided on the employment 
application and/or in the recruitment process
and other relevant considerations."


The University of Texas at Austin:

"7. Criminal history information will be used only for the purpose of 
evaluating applicants for employment in security sensitive positions and 
shall in no way be used to discriminate on the basis of race, color, 
national origin, religion, sex, disability or age. *This policy does not 
automatically exclude from consideration for employment all individuals with 
criminal convictions.* "

"11. All criminal history record information will be destroyed by the Chief 
of Police 180 days after being obtained by UT Austin."

Here's the disclosure form for background checks:

University of Texas at Dallas:
You'll see the policy is nearly identical to the Austin campus:
"To use such criminal history record or criminal conviction information only 
for the purpose of evaluating applicants for employment in security 
sensitive positions. . . "

Texas A&M, College Station (Presumably, the same rules apply to all of
A&M's campuses):

Under "Employment Services":

Click on "General Information" at:

See: "Conviction(s): You are required to list all felony or
misdemeanor conviction(s) including dates."

Other Texas Universities;

From the "Faculty Handbook" at Sam Houston University:

"Sam Houston State University is the Board of Regents of The Texas
State University System. Institutions governed by this board are:
Angelo State University, Lamar University - Beaumont, Lamar University
- Orange, Lamar University - Port Arthur, Lamar University Institute
of Technology, Sam Houston State University, Southwest Texas State
University, Sul Ross State University, and Sul Ross Rio Grande
College. A publication, RULES AND REGULATIONS The Texas State
University System, adopted September 1, 1980, and revised annually, is
both current and comprehensive in identifying, defining, and
describing Board authority and policies of governance.

Clicking on that link takes you to:
Click on "Rules and Regulations May 7, 2004 pdf format"

Unfortunately, you can't readily access various chapters. I ran a
search on "Texas State University System +background check" and got a
hit for Lamar University, which operates under the auspices of the
System. What I found there should be applicable to all the schools
mentioned above:




At the National Association of College and University Attorneys'
(NACUA) Institutional Policies Online, I found the criteria for
Oklahoma State University : 

 "If the applicant has a record, the information is reviewed by OSU
Human Resources.  Criteria used to determine eligibility for further
hiring consideration is dependent upon the individual?s criminal
record (type offense(s), frequency, time lapse, etc.) and the duties
of the position for which the applicant has applied. *A conviction
record does not necessarily disqualify an applicant from
consideration*. . . ."

"The hiring official documents the recruitment file that a background
check was conducted by OSU Human Resources, and the applicant was
found to be a satisfactory or unsatisfactory applicant. The background
check is maintained in the confidential files of OSU Human Resources
for the required three years and then destroyed."

Northeastern State University (OK):

Reviewing the "Faculty Handbook": 
I can't find anything about a background check. 

University of Central Oklahoma:

Hiring Policy:

"When any applicant is selected for hire, the unit will complete the
following background checks on the applicant: driver?s license,
reference, sex offender, and University debt check . . . ." But I
think you should assume that they expect applicants to divulge a
criminal record.

University of Oklahoma:

Under "Human Resources," I found:

The "Online Application" page:

You'll see this requirement: " Felony Convictions: All felony
convictions must be disclosed, including dates and offense."

But again, there's nothing to suggest a conviction precludes employment. 


University of Colorado:

This doesn't look promising, but it's unclear if they mean an offense
prior to employment or during employment:

"The Laws of the Regents establish a provision for the dismissal of
faculty members on the grounds of . . . conviction of a felony, or any
offence involving moral turpitude upon a plea or a verdict of guilty
or following a plea of nolo contendere . . . ."

See "Background Checks for Security-sensitive Positions and Officers"
(a term not clearly defined, but may well include faculty) :

Scroll down to Section IV for details. You'll see that you'll be
subject to a criminal history check. However, I don't see anything in
the handbook that absolutely forbids employment of someone with a
prior felony conviction.

University of Denver: 

Simply notes that a criminal background check will be run on all
prospective faculty, and suggests that you contact a staff member to
learn more.

I'd suggest you contact the head of HR: 

Dick Gartrell 
Phone: 303 871-7420

University of Northern Colorado:

At the University's "Hot Topics" page:
See detailed documents regarding background checks.
"The criminal background check on new employees will be conducted in the least
intrusive manner during the hiring process. Do not stop the hiring/ contracting
process while waiting for background check results. The criminal check will be
conducted by the UNC Police using the Colorado Crime Information Computer to
check criminal history in the state and the National Crime Information Computer
to check criminal history nationally."

You must submit a form detailing your conviction:

Western State College of Colorado: 

"Handbook for Professional Personnel":
Page 53 notes that you can be dismissed if convicted of a felony, but
it isn't clear if they mean at any time in your life, or after you're
hired. I also can't find anything about a pre-hiring background check.

Under Human Resources, I found the "State Employee Handbook" at:
But again, it mentions you can be dismissed for committing a felony,
but says nothing about a background check.

I found an un-dated article in the Barriers Busters Committee's
journal "Barriers Currently Under Review" that mentions a new
university policy re: background checks:

"4. What steps should CU take to attract and keep excellent and diverse staff?
" . . .(3) To reduce risk to the institution and its assets from
unacceptable employee actions, the University established a new policy
on criminal background and financial reviews for employees assuming
officer and other security- sensitive positions . . ."  but no details
on which positions are affected by that possible new policy.

Again, I think you're better off just disclosing your youthful
indiscretion during the application process.


University of New Mexico:

From the Board of Regents' manual:
" 3210
Subject to Change Without Notice
Effective Date May 15, 2003
Revised: 11/1/91, 10/15/95, 2/5/96, 05/15/0"

"Each applicant submitting a resume and selected for interview must
complete a 'Supplement to Resume Form' to provide additional
information such as convictions and licenses/certifications and to
authorize the University to conduct references, secondary references,
and background checks. In addition, if the applicant is a current
employee, authorization is given to the hiring officer to review the
University personnel file. A set of standard questions must be used
for all candidates in the interview process and the candidates'
answers must be documented."

I don't see anything here that precludes someone with a criminal
record being hired, but then again, there aren't any specifics given
on this matter, period. The criteria certainly doesn't rule out
someone with a record from applying or being hired.

Eastern New Mexico University:

Faculty Handbook: 

I don't see anything there about criminal record or background checks.

Under "Professional Employee Handbook":
There, under "Employee Information Disclosure Policy":

I again don't see anything about a criminal record or past
convictions, but it seems they do expect applicants to give full

New Mexico State University:

I wasn't able to find anything about convictions or a criminal
background check in the "NMSU Policy  Manual":



See this August 15, 2005 Daily Bruin article by Derek Lipkin, "UCLA
hiring policies under audit
Review currently in progress; changes to be implemented by fall":

"The current university-wide policy for background checks says they
are only used for certain positions at UCLA that involve "critical and
sensitive functions," such as those that involve handling of
university resources and finances, access to buildings with master
keys or access to information that could affect national security,
among several other requirements. . . . The decision to use a
background check is made by the department heads, or their designees."

That policy is now in flux due to the arrest of an employee who was
recently arrested for violating his probation. (His criminal record
had been unknown to the university.)

I went to UCLA's Web site:

Here's the link to the "Academic Personnel Office":

And the Faculty Handbook:

I wasn't able to find anything concrete there about background checks
(perhaps the Web site has not yet been updated since this development
is fairly recent), but the Handbook did lead me to page on UCLA's
"Faculty Code of Conduct":
These guidelines generally have to do with discrimination; no mention
of requiring criminal convictions.

Because UCLA either hasn't yet revised its policy (even though it was
supposed to be completed by this Fall), or else the Web site just
hasn't been updated to include the revision or addendum, you may want
to just call UCLA's Academic Personnel Office at 310-825-3841.

California State University, Los Angeles Campus:

Under Human Resource Management's page:
 "A resume may accompany the employment application; however, resumes
will not substitute for a completed employment application.  It is the
applicant's responsibility to ensure that this information is
thorough, complete, and relevant to the specific position opening. 
Failure to provide sufficient information, which evidences meeting
minimum qualifications and required specialized skills and abilities,
will result in disqualification or no consideration."

Unfortunately, the link to the University's application form isn't
working, so I can't see if conviction disclosure is required.
California State University, Berkeley (which has a geography department):

I found this link concerning background checks at the University of
California's Berkeley Campus: 

As of June 2004: "Criminal background checks are required for staff
and non-Senate academic employees newly hired, transferred, promoted,
reclassified, or reassigned to certain sensitive positions.  They are
not required for employees holding sensitive positions at the time
this policy went into effect.  The department is responsible for
initiating the criminal background check.  If the background check
reveals a conviction relevant to the sensitive position, the
individual may be disqualified from holding the sensitive position."

You'll see that the policy seems to mainly concern employees who have
access to certain data and who handle cash, but again, full disclosure
seems wise no matter what position you're seeking.

California State University, Fresno Campus (which has a geography department):

Here's their application form:

You must disclose your conviction on the first page of the
application. However, "A conviction is not necessarily disqualifying.
Each case will be evaluated on its own merits and its applicability to
the position."

(If one Cal State campus has such a requirement, it seems logical to
assume other campuses will have similar, if not identical,

You can review a general list of colleges that conduct "Employee
Background Checks" at Institutional Policies Online, a site hosted by
the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA): 

"Arizona State University
Mandatory Background Checks for Employees and Process for Hiring,
Retaining,or Terminating Employees Convicted of a Felony Offense
Central Michigan University
Criminal History Checks
Community College of Denver
Background Checks
Hamilton College
Background Screening Process for Non-Faculty Employees
Fairleigh Dickinson University 
Background Checks
Indiana University
Policy on Background Checks for Academic Appointees
Oklahoma State University
Employment Checking Procedures
Pennsylvania State University
Academic Appointment Background Checks
Regent University
Background Check Policy
Rochester Institute of Technology
Implementation of Criminal Background/MVR Checks
St. Edward's University [Colorado]
Background Check Policy and Procedure 
University of Idaho
Background Check Procedures for Applicants, Employees and Volunteers
University of Texas at Austin
Criminal Background Checks
University of Texas at Dallas
Criminal Background Checks"


Also, check this list of U.S. colleges with geography programs, "A2Z
List of Schools, Colleges, Universities & Institutes offering
Geography majors in USA" :

Click on the state that interests you, and as you link to each school
in that state, search the school's site for faculty hiring guidelines.

Use these search strings to research any state where you would like to 

[name of state] Board Regents +hiring policy 2005 +criminal


[name of state] Board Regents + hiring policy 2005 + criminal background 


[name of state] Board Regents + hiring policy 2005 + felony 


[name of state] Board Regents + faculty hiring policy 2005 +university


[name of state] Board Regents + hiring policy +2005 +university


university [name of state] +faculty +hiring policy +2005 +criminal
background [or felony]


[name of state] +Board Regents (then, when you find a good hit, search
for faculty or hiring handbook or guidelines).

You can also try:
[name of school] +hiring policy


[name of school] +background check
name of school] +faculty +felony

I hope my research is of help to you. If you have trouble navigating any of 
the above links, please post a "Request For Clarification" and I will assist 

Best Regards,
Google Answers Researcher
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