An eligible course grade grievance results from an allegation of improper academic evaluation.
Improper academic evaluation includes evidence of instructor error in calculating or reporting a final grade; evidence that the evaluation criteria noted in the syllabus were not followed; evidence that the evaluation criteria noted in the syllabus were not followed consistently when grading students in the same class.
Academic evaluation that is not eligible includes dissatisfaction with the evaluation criteria noted in the syllabus; dissatisfaction with the level of difficulty or work load associated with the course; objections regarding the style or quality of the instructor's teaching.
Step 1: Resolution at the School Level
A student who wishes to question a final course grade is expected to discuss the matter first with the course instructor within the first 20 business days of the term subsequent to the term in which the disputed course grade was awarded. This discussion can take place in person, in writing, or via University e-mail account. It is anticipated that, in most cases, this discussion will suffice and the matter will not need to be carried further. Schools and colleges that have departmental chairs (e.g., Arts and Sciences) will require students to meet with the chair of the department prior to Step 2.
Step 2: Mediation
If the student grievance is not resolved through discussion with the instructor, the student may submit a Course Grade Grievance Form (hereinafter referred to as the "grievance form"), along with any documents that the student believes support the grievance. The grievance form and supporting documents must be submitted to the dean's office. The grievance should be filed in the school, in the office of the dean in which the course is being offered within the first 20 business days after the completion of Step 1.
Note: The grievance forms will be housed in the dean's office of the School of Nursing, School of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, the School for Continuing and Professional Studies and the Graham School of Management.
Once the grievance form is received by the dean, the formal course grade grievance process begins and the dean sends the paperwork to a mediator, selected by the dean for the case (a mediator may serve more than once). The mediator has 15 business days from receipt of the grievance form in which to complete Step 2.
If the mediator determines that a student grievance is not eligible to be resolved under this course grade grievance policy, the mediator indicates "Ineligible" on the grievance form, completes the rationale section, and distributes copies of the form to the student, the faculty member, the faculty member's immediate administrative superior and the dean.
The student can provide a written appeal of the mediator's decision to the dean if applicable. The dean will either uphold the mediator's decision or grant the appeal and begin Step 3. The dean will send official notification of the decision to the student, the faculty member, the faculty member's immediate administrative superior and the mediator.
Eligible Course Grade Grievance
If the student submits a grievance that is eligible to be resolved under this course grade grievance policy, the mediator should inform the student of the course grade grievance process.
The mediator sends a copy of the student's grievance form and the supporting documents to the faculty member, so that the faculty member can respond to the grievance. The mediator is expected and encouraged to converse with the student, the faculty member, and any other individual that might need to be included to help resolve the grievance. The mediator is encouraged to bring those specifically involved in the grievance together when the mediator believes such a meeting will help resolve the issue. The mediator has the latitude to request documentation and set deadlines for receipt of such documentation, as deemed necessary.
If the grievance is resolved, the mediator describes the resolution on the grievance form and distributes copies of the completed form to the student, faculty member, the faculty member's immediate administrative superior, and the dean.
If the grievance is not resolved, the mediator indicates "not resolved: requires an Ad Hoc Committee review" on the grievance form and copies the student, faculty member, the faculty member's immediate administrative superior, and the dean. At that point, the mediator is no longer involved. As a courtesy, the mediator would be notified of the outcome at the conclusion of the process.
Step 3: Ad Hoc Course Grade Grievance Committee
The role of the Ad Hoc Course Grade Grievance Committee is to make a final decision on all course grade grievances that are not successfully resolved at the mediation level. The Ad Hoc Course Grade Grievance Committee will hereinafter be referred to as the Ad Hoc Committee.
Structure of the Ad Hoc Committee
Formation of the Ad Hoc Committee
The dean will form an Ad Hoc Committee (only after step 2 has been completed) within 10 business days of receiving the grievance form. Within these 10 business days, the dean will send the provost a notice of the committee formation and will send each committee member the following:
- written notice of the committee formation, date of the formal charge, date by which the committee should have its recommendation formulated, names and contact information of committee members;
- a copy of the grievance file that was established at the mediation level; and
- written description of the Ad Hoc Committee function, timeline and process, as excerpted from the faculty and student handbooks.
Upon confirmation of willingness to serve by the three ad hoc committee members, the dean will formally charge the committee with the task of reviewing the case and coming to a conclusion. The conclusion must be decided within 25 business days of the formal charge of the committee. The dean will inform the student, faculty member and faculty member's immediate administrative superior in writing about the committee formation and timeline.
The Ad Hoc Committee will consist of three tenured or tenure-track full-time faculty members whose primary responsibility is teaching and who have no conflicts of interest with the case at hand (at least one member of the committee must be a tenured faculty member). These full-time faculty members need to be within the discipline of the course grade being grieved, within a closely allied field, or within the school in which the grade is being grieved (in programs where there are few or no full-time, tenure-track or tenured faculty, the dean will select faculty from closely allied fields or from the school in which the grade is being grieved). One of the three members must be within the discipline or a closely allied field. The chair of the Ad Hoc Committee must be a tenured faculty member and will be designated as chair by the dean.
Guidelines for the Ad Hoc Committee
Operation of the Ad Hoc Committee
The Ad Hoc Committee chair will convene the committee as soon as possible after each member receives the charge and grievance file. Committee members will review the file and meet to discuss the merits of the matter. The chair of the committee will notify the dean of Students, who will appoint someone with the sole responsibility of keeping minutes of meetings, and such minutes will become part of the grievance file. The committee will deliberate and achieve a simple majority decision as to its recommendation regarding the course grade in question.
The Ad Hoc Committee may or may not permit new information from those specifically involved in the grievance. Those specifically involved in the case may also request permission to submit new information pertinent to the case. The Ad Hoc Committee responds to the party as to whether or not the committee will allow the new information to be sent. If allowed, the Ad Hoc Committee may set deadlines for receipt of new information. All communication between the committee and the parties involved will be in writing.
Decisions of the Ad Hoc Committee are to be determined by simple majority.
Outcome of the Ad Hoc Committee
Ad Hoc Committee Confirms Grade
Within 25 business days of receiving the charge, the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee must submit a letter to the student, faculty member, faculty member's immediate administrative superior and the dean. The letter must include:
- date of the report
- validation of adherence to timeline
- facts of the case as considered
- rationale for keeping the original grade
- names of committee members and each member's original signature on the letter
If a simple majority of the Ad Hoc Committee has determined that the grade stands, the process ends.
Ad Hoc Committee Requests Grade Change
Within 25 business days of receiving the charge, the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee must submit a letter to the faculty member, faculty member's immediate administrative superior, and the dean. The letter must include:
- date of the report
- validation of adherence to timeline
- facts of the case as considered
- rationale for recommendation for grade change
- names of committee members and each member's original signature on letter
- the recommendation of the committee
If the faculty member agrees with the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee to change the grade, the faculty member will communicate in writing his/her agreement to the ad hoc committee chair, his/her immediate administrative superior, and the student within five business days of receipt of the letter. Within these same five days, the faculty member will initiate the grade change following the established procedure. The Ad Hoc Committee chair will contact the dean and the Ad Hoc Committee members regarding the grade change.
If the faculty member does not follow the recommendation to change the grade, the instructor's administrative superior and/or the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee will provide the dean with the rationale to change the grade, and forward all documents in the grievance file to the dean for the dean's review. After reviewing the file, the dean will notify in writing the student, faculty member, the faculty member's immediate administrative superior, the registrar, the Ad Hoc Committee members and the provost of his/her final and binding decision and rationale for either changing or not changing the grade.
If the dean decides a grade change is warranted, the dean will be noted as the individual assigning the grade. The dean will follow appropriate internal procedures to change the grade.
Upon conclusion of this process:
- All copies of grievance files should be given to the dean.
- Approved meeting minutes should be included in the file.
Special Extenuating Circumstances
Additional Timeline Guidelines
If at any point during the process the student does not adhere to the established deadlines, the grievance shall be considered denied.
The mediator, dean or chair of the ad hoc committee can request additional time due to unforeseen circumstances (for example: the chair of the ad hoc committee may encounter difficulty coordinating the schedules of the committee members). The necessity for such flexibility is solely intended for the purpose of providing a fair and equitable process. The dean must approve any deviations in timeline, and those specifically involved in the grievance must be notified in writing of the timeline adjustment and the rationale.
Deviations from policy: special circumstances may require deviations from the provisions and guidelines of the course grade grievance policy. In such cases, the dean should determine adjustments necessary to best ensure a just outcome and one that follows as closely as possible to the spirit of expeditious and thorough implementation of the established policy.
Glossary of Terms
A "mediator" can be an administrator or faculty member designated by the dean of each school or college.
"Business days" shall refer to Monday through Friday, excluding University holidays.
"Term subsequent" refers to fall for spring and summer disputed course grades, and to spring for fall disputed course grades.