Faculty Policies and Procedures

Criminal Background Checks

Last updated: 1/1/2010

This Policy was endorsed by the University Committee on Faculty Affairs and the Academic Specialist Advisory Committee and issued by the Office of the Provost on January 1, 2010.

I. Purpose

Michigan State University is committed to providing a safe environment for its students, faculty, and staff in support of its educational mission. This Policy is intended to help the University achieve that goal by mandating the use of criminal background checks in the hiring process for faculty, academic staff, and executive managers and by establishing procedures for conducting those background checks.

II. Applicability

This Policy applies to all paid faculty, academic staff, and executive management appointments, including visiting appointments, for which an offer of employment is made on or after February 1, 2010.

III. Policy

A criminal background check, including degree verification, is required for all faculty, academic staff, and executive management appointments.1 The criminal background check will include the following:2

A. Verification of Social Security Number

B. Examination of county criminal records (county of current residence)

C. Examination of state criminal records (recent residences)

D. Examination of federal criminal records

E. Examination of sex offender registry (nationwide)

F. Examination of federal debarment lists

G. Degree verification

IV. Process

A. The final candidate for a faculty, academic staff, or executive management position will be required to complete a consumer disclosure and authorization form for a criminal background check to be conducted by an outside vendor for review by the University.

B. Candidates must be informed that a criminal background check is a prerequisite to any faculty, academic staff, or executive management appointment at MSU. The candidate’s refusal to submit the authorization form will constitute a withdrawal from the applicant pool.

C. The criminal background check will be initiated by the final candidate or the hiring unit once a contingent offer of appointment has been issued and an authorization form is completed.3 Written offers of appointment extended to faculty, academic staff, and executive managers must clearly state that the offer is contingent on satisfactory criminal background check results, including degree verification.

D. The results of the criminal background check (“meets standards” or “pending review”) will be sent to an authorized individual in the hiring unit. If questionable results are obtained (“pending review”), the Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Human Resources will receive a detailed report. The Associate Provost will contact the candidate and provide him/her with an opportunity to explain the results and provide clarifying information. Prior criminal convictions do not automatically preclude employment.

E. In consultation with the relevant unit administrator(s), the Associate Provost will evaluate the relevancy of the candidate’s criminal history to the position the candidate is seeking. The Associate Provost may also seek advice and guidance from other University offices, such as the MSU Police Department and Office of the General Counsel.

F. The assessment of a candidate’s criminal history will take into account:

  1. The nature and gravity of any criminal offense(s);
  2. The individual’s age at the time of the offense(s);
  3. The number and type of offense (felony, misdemeanor, traffic violations, etc.);
  4. The sentence or sanction for the offense and compliance with the sanction(s);
  5. The amount of time that has passed since the offense and/or completion of the sentence(s);
  6. Whether there is a pattern of offenses;
  7. Whether the offense arose in connection with the candidate’s prior employment;
  8. Information supplied by the candidate about the offense(s);
  9. Work record and references after the offense(s);
  10. Subsequent criminal activity; and
  11. Truthfulness of the candidate in disclosing the offense(s).

G. The University may decline to hire any candidate whose criminal history the University deems incompatible with the position the candidate is seeking.

H. Faculty, academic staff, and executive management appointments may not receive final approval until the required background check has been performed and the results received and assessed.

I. In order to provide the maximum degree of protection for candidates’ privacy, all records related to criminal background checks will be maintained in a secure location separate from employee personnel records. Criminal background check records will be maintained on a confidential basis to the maximum extent allowed by law.

J. Any candidate who provides false or misleading information will be eliminated from further consideration. If false or misleading information is discovered after an individual has been appointed in an executive management, academic specialist, or fixed-term faculty position, the individual’s employment may be terminated pursuant to the appropriate dismissal procedures. If false or misleading information is discovered after an individual has been appointed in the tenure system, the University may rescind the appointment pursuant to the faculty Policy and Procedure for Rescission.

Criminal Background Check Authorization and Consent PDF

Criminal Background Check Frequently Asked Questions


The University will rely on the background check conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in lieu of a University background check for individuals coming to the University directly from residence outside the United States.

Nothing in this Policy negates the possibility that a more comprehensive criminal background check may be required pursuant to state or federal law or for certain sensitive positions (such as those with significant financial responsibilities) or that a criminal background check may be required for existing faculty and staff who: (1) are legally required to have a background check, (2) are required to have a criminal background check pursuant to the Conducting Youth Programs on Campus:  Minimum Operational Requirements, (3) work in facilities that require a criminal background check, or (4) are assigned new duties that involve significant safety or security considerations or financial responsibilities.

3 Costs associated with the criminal background check process will be covered centrally.

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