Like many other organizations, the Academy has been reviewing its policies related to members accused of crimes or other inappropriate actions (e.g., sexual harassment, falsification of research results, intentional plagiarism, and other breaches in professional ethics or academic misconduct). While the Academy’s 1780 charter and the current bylaws provide for expelling or disenfranchising members for cause, there is no record that the Academy has taken any action related to expelling a member nor any policy to guide the practice.
In October 2018 and April 2019, the Academy’s Board of Directors adopted two policies: one related to any member convicted of a felony and another related to any member accused of inappropriate actions but with no record of a court conviction. Because the Academy does not have the capacity to conduct its own investigations, both policies rely on the actions of other organizations to trigger a review. In the case of a felony, the triggering mechanism is clear since a court is involved. In other cases, a review by the Academy requires an “institutional triggering event,” which is an action by the individual’s employer or a reputable third party. This might include disbarment, decertification, loss of tenure, or termination/resignation with a public understanding of the cause. In both cases, the policy calls for a review by the Membership Committee and then, if any action is recommended, the member has an opportunity to appeal before a final decision is made by the Board of Directors.
Both policies are available on the Academy’s member website under Member Resources at members.amacad.org. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Robinson at 617-576-5023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.