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Academic Appeals Procedures

A graduate student who wishes to appeal decisions involving the application of academic regulations to a program of study may do so by submitting a petition to the Council on Graduate Education Committee on Student Appeals through the office of the Dean of the Graduate School. Such an appeal should be initiated by the graduate student and must be restricted to those matters directly affecting decisions that bear on the student's academic progress. A formal appeal should be initiated only after resolution of the issue has been attempted at instructor, program, and/or department levels. The specific kinds of decisions that may be appealed, and the appeals procedure, are described below.

Note that the appeals process is not a procedure for filing grievances. Grievances about the conduct of faculty or staff members, or other matters not directly related to academic decisions concerning a student's academic progress, should be directed to the appropriate department chair or, lacking resolution at that level, to the appropriate dean.

Graduate Student Appeals

Appeals Procedure

Graduate students are expected to handle disagreements about grades or progress in a program of study with those most directly involved at the program, department, or school level. Ordinarily, the professional judgment of the instructor, program director, or department chair will be final. However, if the student feels that his or her treatment has been arbitrary and capricious, or that there was not reasonable procedural or substantive due process, he or she may appeal the decision by submitting a petition to the Council on Graduate Education through the office of the dean of the Graduate School.

Actions Subject to Student Appeals

Graduate students may appeal decisions regarding the application of academic regulations to a program of study.  Appeals are restricted to those matters directly affecting the student's academic progress. Specific kinds of decisions that may be appealed include:

  1. Grades that may lead to probation or dismissal.
  2. Comprehensive or qualifying examination results.
  3. Other performances that lead to probation or dismissal.
  4. Accusations/penalties for infringements of the Academic Integrity Policy.
  5. Faculty decisions concerning personal/ethical behaviors of the student, or student's personal suitability for work in the profession.

7.0. The Post-Department Graduate Student Appeals Procedures for All Types of Academic Appeals, Including Violations of Academic Integrity.

7.1. Level 1 of the Post-Department Graduate Student Appeals Process: Review by the Council on Graduate Education Student Appeals Committee.

7.1.1. Graduate students are expected to handle disagreements about grades, progress in a program of study, academic integrity, or dismissal decisions with those most directly involved, in accordance with department policy.

7.1.1.1. Typically, the student approaches individuals in the following order: the faculty member, the program director/graduate coordinator and/or the department chair.

7.1.1.2. Ordinarily, the professional judgment of the department chair will prevail; however, a student has the right to appeal a department chair's decision.

7.1.1.2.1. An appeal may only be undertaken after attempts to resolve the matter at the faculty or departmental level have failed.

7.1.1.2.2. An appeal must be initiated by the graduate student.

7.1.1.2.3. An appeal must be restricted to those matters directly affecting decisions that bear on the student's progress in their academic program.

7.1.2. Specific kinds of decisions that may be appealed include, but are not limited to, the following:

7.1.2.1. Course grades, only if the student claims arbitrary or capricious application of standards or that procedures are not followed. Decisions about the quality of work will remain with the faculty member and the department.

7.1.2.2. Comprehensive or Qualifying Examination results.

7.1.2.3. Sanctions for violations of academic integrity.

7.1.2.4. Other actions that lead to program probation or dismissal.

7.1.2.5. Other actions that lead to University probation or dismissal.

7.1.2.6. Faculty decisions concerning standards of professional conduct.

7.1.3. The appeals process is not a procedure for filing grievances against a faculty or staff member. Grievances about the conduct of faculty or staff members or other matters not directly related to academic decisions concerning a student's academic progress should be directed to the appropriate department chair or, lacking resolution at that level, to the appropriate dean.

7.1.4. If the graduate student feels that his or her treatment within the department has been arbitrary and capricious or that processes were not followed correctly in the department, the student may appeal the department's decision to the Council on Graduate Education (CGE).

7.1.5. The graduate student initiates the appeal by filing a petition with the Chair of CGE (See steps for filing below). The petition must be submitted within 10 business days after receiving written notification of the outcome of the department level of review by the department chair.

7.1.6. The student initiates the appeal to CGE by filing a petition with the Dean of The Graduate School and Professional Programs within 10 business days after receiving written notification of the outcome of the departmental level of review by the department chair.

7.1.7. The petition must include:

7.1.7.1. Documentation of efforts made by the graduate student to resolve the disagreement at the instructor, program, and department levels.

7.1.7.2. All relevant written documentation from faculty and the department chair related to the appeal and all relevant communications with the parties involved.

7.1.7.3. A statement of the graduate student's desired outcome of the appeal (e.g., dismissal of the charge, modification of sanction or conditions imposed) or, if the student is proposing it, alternative plans for remediation.

7.1.8. The Dean of The Graduate School and Professional Programs reviews the petition to determine whether the graduate student has followed the communication protocol in terms of timeliness, completeness of the petition, and appropriateness.

7.1.8.1. If so, the petition is forwarded to the CGE Chair.

7.1.8.2. If not, a written explanation is sent to the student with a copy to the CGE Chair and all other parties involved.

7.1.9. Upon receipt of the student's petition from the Dean of The Graduate School and Professional Programs, the CGE Chair appoints and convenes a CGE Student Appeals Committee.

7.1.9.1. The Committee is made up of five members: one member of the CGE, two graduate faculty members who are not CGE members, and two graduate students who are not representatives to CGE.

7.1.9.2. Graduate faculty and student members are appointed by the CGE Chair. Appointments are made from a list of faculty and students identified by departments as having an interest in serving on the committee and who have either received or agree to receive special training to serve on the Student Appeals Committee.

7.1.9.2.1. The CGE Chair prepares, at the beginning of each academic year, a list of faculty and students from each department who have expressed interest in serving on a CGE Student Appeals Committee.

7.1.9.2.2. The CGE Chair avoids appointing any faculty or student members who have an apparent vested interest in the outcome of the appeal.

7.1.9.2.3. The term of service will expire with the resolution of the individual appeal.

7.1.9.3. The petitioning student and the department involved each have the ability to challenge up to two proposed members of the committee for no cause.

7.1.9.3.1. Individual members who are challenged are dismissed.

7.1.9.3.2. An alternate member (student or faculty) are selected from the list of volunteers or nominations.

7.1.9.4. All records of the CGE Student Appeals Committee are held in strict confidence.

7.1.9.4.1. Records of the appeal, including the petition, are kept in the Office of the Dean of The Graduate School and Professional Programs.

7.1.9.4.2. Academic Integrity records are kept separate from the student's regular academic file.

7.1.10. The Student Appeals Committee holds an organizational meeting.

7.1.10.1. A faculty chair is elected.

7.1.10.2. All documentation related to the appeal forwarded by the Dean of The Graduate School and Professional Programs is reviewed.

7.1.10.3. At this meeting, a decision is made about whether to support the appeal or to get additional information.

7.1.10.4. The Student Appeals Committee has the option of asking the graduate student, program director, or department chair to attend a hearing to provide additional information.

7.1.11. The role of the Student Appeals Committee is to determine whether actions of the reviewers at lower levels of the appeal were arbitrary or capricious and whether processes were followed correctly.

7.1.12. The outcome of the review by the CGE Student Appeals Committee will be determined by a secret ballot.

7.1.12.1. The Committee will vote on whether there is any evidence to suggest that the actions of the faculty or professional staff member were arbitrary or capricious and whether processes were followed correctly.

7.1.12.2. Based on the majority vote of the committee, the appeal will be supported fully, partially, or not at all.

7.1.13. The majority vote of the members will govern a written recommendation to the dean of the school in which the department resides (i.e., GSPP or CLAST).

7.1.14. In the event the appeal is related to a course outside of the school in which the student is enrolled, CGE's recommendation will be forwarded to the dean of the school in which the course resides with a copy sent to the student's academic dean.

7.2. Level 2 of the Post-Department Graduate Student Appeals Process: Review by the GSPP OR CLAST Dean.

7.2.1. The GSPP or CLAST dean who receives the recommendation from CGE considers all of the documentation provided in the appeal and the recommendation of the CGE Student Appeals Committee and makes the decision about the appeal.

7.2.2. If the situation is as described in 7.1.14., the dean who governs the department whose course is in question will consult with the other dean who receives the copy before rendering a final decision.

7.2.3. The decision at the dean's level is final. No other appeals are possible.

7.2.4. The final decision made by the dean, along with a brief rationale for the decision will be conveyed in writing by the Dean of the Graduate School and Professional Programs to the student and all other concerned parties.

This policy was based on an adaptation of a compendium of academic integrity policy information, reported (Winter 2004) on the websites of the following universities: University of Maryland, University of Maryland-Baltimore County; George Washington University, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and University of Alberta.

Additionally, the "XF Transcript Course Grade Notation for Violations of Academic Integrity" was adapted from a jointly published article, "Model Code of Academic Integrity" appearing in the Summer 1997 issue of Synthesis: Law and Policy in Higher Education (pp. 640-641 and the Journal of College and University Law) [as noted (p. 637) in the Summer 1997 edition of Synthesis: Law and Policy in Higher Education].

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