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CVPA Graduate Academic Committee (GAC)

Procedures for addressing academic issues disputed by graduate students

Graduate students shall follow one of the two following procedures for resolving disagreements with faculty involving substantive academic issues. The first is a departmental process described herein; the second is a more formal process that requires several of the steps established within the departmental process and that may culminate in a hearing convened by the Graduate School (see OP64.07). Students must follow the departmental process as initial attempts to resolve academic disagreements; failure to do so could result in disciplinary action up to and including suspension from the program.

The departmental process requires the student to discuss the complaint with the Graduate Advisor or Graduate Coordinator (the student can proceed directly to Chair or Director if the Graduate Advisor / Coordinator is a party named in the complaint). If the matter is not resolved at this stage, the student discusses the complaint with the Chair or Director, who issues a summary judgment. (If the Chair or Director is involved in the complaint, the student contacts an Associate Chair or Director of the unit.) Should the student be dissatisfied with the outcome, he/she notifies the Chair, Director, or Associate and requests a hearing by a GAC. The unit administrator then confers with the Dean or Associate Dean charged with graduate and faculty issues to ascertain whether the dispute meets criteria for a hearing by the GAC as the culmination of the departmental process to resolve such issues (see also individual unit handbooks for graduate students).

The Graduate Academic Committee

The GAC decides substantive academic disputes between graduate students and faculty. Such disputes are referred to it as the final stage of the departmental process of complaint described above. The committee does not address issues for which other procedural means are specified, e.g., grade appeals, employment, harassment, and the like. Formal appeals proceed according to provisions specified in OP64.07.

The GAC is convened on behalf of the dean, ordinarily by the associate dean charged with graduate and faculty issues. Membership is selected ad hoc from (in order of preference) faculty members from the student's home unit who are not involved in the dispute, CVPA Graduate Committee members, CVPA Awards & Research Committee members, and/or other qualified faculty members in the CVPA. To the extent that it is feasible, the committee should include faculty who have experience with programs equivalent or similar to that of the complainant. The dean's representative, in consultation with the home unit's chair or director, invites a graduate student who participates as a fully-functioning member of the GAC.

Process for GAC Consideration

The student must provide a written statement specifying the nature of the disagreement, the faculty member(s) involved, and evidence or documentation supporting issues or charges to be addressed. Faculty member(s) involved in the disagreement will receive a copy of this statement and will be invited to provide a written response to issues raised by the complainant and to provide supporting documentation or evidence.

The GAC will meet to consider the disagreement; both student and faculty member(s) involved are invited to attend the meeting but need not do so. The GAC may require an additional meeting(s) should circumstances warrant, and concludes its deliberations in private session. If members cannot arrive at decisions by consensus, vote(s) shall be taken in which a simple majority prevails. The dean's representative votes only should a tie vote need to be broken. The dean's representative issues GAC findings, recommendations, and rationale for recommendations using a standardized form. This is addressed to the dean and is copied to chair or director, the parties involved in the disagreement, and to the unit's appropriate graduate advisor.

This policy is effective on the date of its publication.