Graduate College logo[effective Fall 2013]
Introduction:
The Graduate Student Appeals Process is a formal process for graduate students to request review and redress of certain grievances arising from their participation in academic programs. The purpose of the appeals process is to resolve academic disputes in a fair and collegial manner. Every grievance should begin with an informal mediation process and may proceed, if necessary, through a more formal appeal process. The hope and expectation is that grievances will be resolved in a timely way by the parties during the mediation process.

Forms are available online at the Graduate College site or in the Graduate College office, Old Main 113.


Timeline and Appeals Process: In the interest of fairness, appeals will not proceed during the summer months unless all involved parties agree to proceed during the summer or where the student can show irreparable harm will occur due to the delay. Appeals procedures and timetables will be suspended on the last day of spring semester and resume on the first day of fall semester. Appeals filed after the end of spring semester will not be considered until the beginning of the fall semester. For the purpose of this process all days are working days and the parties may extend the time limitations by mutual agreement.

 The Graduate Student Appeals Process is applicable to the following types of grievances:

  • Appeal of an Academic Action Based on a Student’s Academic Performance
    An Academic Action Based on a Student’s Academic Performance is an action by a program, academic unit or department based on a graduate student’s academic performance or failure to satisfy academic program requirements.  Examples may include academic probation, academic suspension, and dismissal from a program.  Each program may set its own academic requirements and standards for acceptable academic performance. These standards are stated in the graduate student’s Graduate Catalog of record.
  • Appeal of an Academic Disciplinary Action:
    An Academic Disciplinary Action is a penalty or sanction imposed for violation of academic policies against cheating or plagiarism as defined by Marshall University’s official policy on Academic Dishonesty or for other behavior judged to be inappropriate academic conduct. (See MUBOG AA-12: Academic Dishonesty, in Graduate Catalog).
  • Appeal of a Final Grade (see below).

The Graduate Student Appeal Process  does not apply to the following types of grievances:

  • Allegations of sexual harassment or discriminatory treatment
    Allegations of sexual harassment or discriminatory treatment arising from the student’s age, race, gender, sexual preference, disability, national origin, or religion will be handled by the Marshall University Office of Equity Programs, Old Main, 207, 304.696.2597.
  • Appeal of a Grade (other than a final grade)
    Individual test grades, assignment grades, class performance grades, or partial grades cannot be the basis for an appeal, nor can an instructor’s academic and professional evaluation of the quality of a student’s academic performance.

A Final Grade can be appealed under a process described below.


Final Grade Appeal Process and Timeline

The evaluation of student performance is based on the professional judgment of instructors and matters of academic judgment are not grievable. Therefore, final grades will be changed only in exceptional circumstances. The grade assigned by the instructor is assumed to be correct and the graduate student appealing the grade must justify the need for a change of the grade assigned.

The only bases for which a final grade appeal can be made or considered are:

  • The final grade assigned for a course is based on an obvious error (e.g. a clear error such as error in computing a grade or failure to grade one of the answers on an exam).
  • Standards different from those established in written department, or Graduate College policies, if specific policies exist, were used in assigning the grade.
  • The instructor departed from his or her previously articulated, written standards, without notifying graduate students, in determining the grade.

A graduate student who believes a final grade was improperly assigned according to the above, should first present the case informally to the instructor who assigned the final grade under challenge within ten (10) days of receiving the final grade. (If the instructor will not be available within one semester, excluding the summer session, or the student has shown he/she will be irreparably harmed by the delay, the director/coordinator of graduate studies of the department or designee can act in lieu of the instructor of record for the purpose of final grade appeals.)  The instructor within ten (10) days of the meeting with the graduate student shall provide the graduate student with a written decision regarding whether the grade will be changed, modified or remain the same.  If, after receiving the instructor’s decision, the graduate student is not satisfied with the resolution at this first step, the graduate student should submit FORM A with appropriate documentation including the instructor’s decision, within the first fourteen (14) days of receiving the instructor’s decision (not including summer sessions), to the department/unit head of the department (or director of graduate studies if the depart/unit head assigned the grade), in which the course was offered.

The written appeal to the department/unit head must include all of these items:

  • A statement explaining how the appeal meets one or more of the three criteria noted above that are necessary for a formal final grade appeal.
  • A copy of the instructor’s decision.
  • A copy of the complete course syllabus.
  • Any relevant documents the graduate student would like to be reviewed as part of the appeal process.
  • A statement explaining why the student disagrees with the instructor’s decision and what the graduate student would consider a fair resolution of the appeal, with supporting reasons.

Within ten (10) days of receiving the appeal, the department/unit head will provide to the graduate student and the instructor who assigned the grade a written decision on the appeal on FORM A.  If the graduate student is not satisfied with the decision of the department/unit head, the graduate student may submit FORM A with attachments, to the Dean of the Graduate College. The Dean, within ten (10) days of receiving the appeal, will enter on FORM A a written decision and provide FORM A to the student and instructor. The decision of the Dean is final and not appealable.

Summary of Order of Appeal for Final Grades:

  1. Informal discussion with the instructor who assigned the grade;
  2. Formal written appeal to the department/unit head;
  3. Formal written appeal to the Dean of the Graduate College;
  4. Graduate Dean issues final non- appealable decision.

Action Based on a Student’s Academic Performance Appeal Process and Timeline 

Generally, sanctions resulting from an Academic Action (e.g. probation, suspension, or dismissal) take effect immediately, regardless of whether an appeal is filed.  In exceptional circumstances, however, the Graduate Dean or the Provost may choose to suspend the imposition of sanctions pending the resolution of an appeal.

The director/coordinator of graduate studies, department/unit head, or Graduate Dean will notify a graduate student in writing of an academic action.  Before filing a formal appeal, graduate students should try to seek informal resolution of any concerns they may have related to academic actions by discussing those concerns informally with the director/coordinator of graduate studies, or department/unit head.

A graduate student must submit FORM B with appropriate documentation, to the Dean of the Graduate College within (30) days after receipt of written notice of the academic action. Within ten (10) days of receiving the appeal, the Dean will enter on FORM B a written decision and provide FORM B to the student  and to the involved official.  If the graduate student is not satisfied with the decision of the Graduate Dean, within ten (10) days of receiving the Graduate Dean’s decision, the graduate student should request a hearing on FORM B before the Graduate Council Subcommittee on Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities (GCSGSRR) and submit the form to the Graduate Dean.

The Graduate Dean will forward Form B and all attachments to the Chair of the Graduate Council. The GCSGSRR will schedule a hearing and give all parties ten (10) days written notice of the hearing. The GCSGSRR will review Form B with all attachments and provide the graduate student and the involved official with the opportunity to review and respond to all evidence.  The graduate student and the involved official will be allowed to bring an advisor to the hearing, but will not be permitted legal representation unless the student will be dismissed from the program as a result of the academic action being challenged. The GCSGSRR will operate with due respect to the rights of graduate students, faculty, and administrators including the conduct of interviews, the right of all parties to review and address allegations, and the right to a fair hearing. Within ten (10) days of the hearing, the GCSGSRR will enter on Form B a written decision and forward Form B with all attachments to the graduate student, the involved official and the Provost.

If the graduate student is not satisfied with the decision of the GCSGSRR, within ten (10) days of receipt of the decision the graduate student may make a written request to the Provost to reconsider that decision.  The Provost’s review shall be limited to substantive or procedural issues regarding the hearing. The decision of the Provost is final.

Summary of Order of Appeal for Actions Based on a Student’s Academic Performance

  1. Seek informal resolution within department, unit, or program;
  2. Formal written appeal to the Graduate Dean;
  3. Hearing before the GCSGSRR;
  4. GCSGSRR submits written decision to Provost;
  5. Provost issues final non-appealable decision.

Academic Disciplinary Action Appeal Process and Timeline

Generally, sanctions resulting from an Academic Disciplinary Action (cheating, plagiarism, etc.), take effect immediately, regardless of whether an appeal is filed. In exceptional circumstances, however, the Graduate Dean or the Provost may suspend the imposition of sanctions pending the resolution of an appeal.  The burden of proof will be with the appealing graduate student.

The director/coordinator of graduate studies, department/unit head, or Graduate Dean will notify a graduate student in writing of an academic action. Before filing a formal appeal, graduate students should try to seek informal resolution of any concerns they may have related to academic actions by discussing those concerns informally with the director/coordinator of graduate studies, or department/unit head.

A graduate student must submit FORM B with appropriate documentation, to the Dean of the Graduate College within thirty (30) days after receipt of written notice of the academic action. Within ten (10) days of receiving the appear, the Dean will enter on FORM B a written decision and provide FORM B to the student  and to the involved official.  If the graduate student is not satisfied with the decision of the Graduate Dean, within ten (10) days of receiving the Graduate Dean’s decision, the graduate student should request a hearing on FORM B before the Graduate Council Subcommittee on Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities (GCSGSRR) and submit the form to the Graduate Dean.

The Graduate Dean will forward FORM B and all attachments to the Chair of the Graduate Council. The GCSGSRR will schedule a hearing and give all parties ten (10) days written notice of the hearing. The GCSGSRR will review FORM B with all attachments and provide the graduate student and the involved official with the opportunity to review and respond to all evidence.  The graduate student and the involved official will be allowed to bring an advisor to the hearing, but will not be permitted legal representation unless the student will be dismissed from the program as a result of the academic action being challenged. The GCSGSRR will operate with due respect to the rights of graduate students, faculty, and administrators including the conduct of interviews, the right of all parties to review and address allegations, and the right to a fair hearing. Within ten (10) days of the hearing, the GCSGSRR will enter on FORM B a written decision and forward FORM B with all attachments to the graduate student, the involved official and the Provost.

If the graduate student is not satisfied with the decision of the GCSGSRR, within ten (10) days of receipt of the decision the graduate student may make a written request to the Provost to reconsider that decision.  The Provost’s review shall be limited to substantive or procedural issues regarding the hearing. The decision of the Provost is final.


Su
mmary of Order of Appeal for Academic Disciplinary Action:

  1. Seek informal resolution within department, unit, or program;
  2. Formal written appeal to the Graduate Dean;
  3. Hearing before the GCSGSRR;
  4. GCSGSRR submits written decision to Provost;
  5. Provost issues final non-appealable decision.

See MUBOG AA-12; MUBOG SA-2.