Graduate Catalog
2018-2019
 
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Graduate School Policies
Appeals
Graduate Student Appeals

[See additional information in Expectations for Graduate Education: Complaints and Appeals, http://graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/expectations/expectations-for-graduate-education-overview/complaints-and-appeals.html]

Graduate education is a complex activity involving a high order of student-faculty relationship. It follows that the evaluation of the graduate student’s progress is, and must be, dependent in large part on the judgment of the student’s Advisor and augmented by the collective judgment of the members of the Advisory Committee. The university, through the Graduate School, defines minimal entrance standards and general rules governing eligibility for continuation in graduate programs. However, the crucial agency in student evaluation is the student’s Advisor and other Advisory Committee members.

It is important that each graduate student be fully informed, not only of the Graduate School Policies and Procedures, but of any additional departmental program requirements beyond those of the Graduate School. The Graduate School website provides a link to departmental policy requirements at https://secure.graduateschool.vt.edu/graduate_catalog/programs.htm . The department should inform graduate students of their degree requirements at the time of matriculation.

It is assumed that most problems involving graduate education will be discussed informally and reconciled at the departmental level. Indeed, most discussions of this kind will commonly occur among the student, the Chair of the student’s Advisory Committee, and the other members of the Advisory Committee. However, from time to time serious questions may arise that place the student’s status in jeopardy. On these occasions, it is important that the university provide full opportunity for the student’s grievance to be reviewed in a judicious manner.

The Departmental Appeal

When a graduate student believes that any work has been improperly evaluated, or believes that there has been unfair treatment, it is expected that the student will take up the questions directly with the faculty member involved. This may be the student’s Advisor, other faculty members, or an instructor responsible for a course. If, after earnest inquiry, the matter remains unreconciled, the graduate student will be expected to appeal the question to the Department Head (the Graduate Program Director also may be involved in this level of appeal). If the Department Head is a party to the grievance, the Dean of the academic college will assume this responsibility. The Department Head, in consultation with the college Dean, shall take all reasonable and proper actions to resolve the question at the departmental level. The student shall be informed in writing of the results no later than one month after the appeal to the Department Head. In some matters, the Faculty Handbook provides additional relevant information, for example, "the assigning of grades is the responsibility of the individual instructor in every case. The basis on which grades are assigned rests on his/her judgment alone....").

The University Appeals Procedure

Should the aggrieved student believe that the student's rights were abridged at the departmental level, the student may file an appeal with the Dean of the Graduate School. In a statement to the Dean, the aggrieved student must clearly state the substance of the appeal. The Dean of the Graduate School shall take all reasonable and proper actions to resolve the question or refer it directly to the Graduate Appeals Committee for its review. As a standing committee of the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, this committee will consist of three faculty members and one graduate student. For each appeal the dean shall appoint to the committee one additional faculty member knowledgeable in the academic area of the appeal.
The review by the Graduate Appeals Committee will have available to it all pertinent information in the student’s record in the university and (a) the department’s policy statement concerning its degree expectations, (b) a summary of the department’s  action on the appeal, and (c) copies of the student’s statement to the Dean of the Graduate School recording the student’s view of alleged irregularities (i.e., the basis for university appeal).
The Graduate Appeals Committee may hold a formal hearing on grievance appeals referred to it by the Dean of the Graduate School. The hearing will be conducted with the following procedural safeguards:
1. All parties to the dispute will be notified of the time and place of the hearing at least 48 hours in advance;
2. The aggrieved student will be permitted, if the student chooses, to invite a member of the faculty or student body to represent him/her in the hearing;
3. All parties in the dispute will be given full opportunity to testify and to present such evidence or witnesses as seem relevant;
4. All matters on which the finding will be based must be introduced into evidence at the hearing.

The Graduate Student Appeals Committee will make a recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School, which will be acted upon by the Dean of the Graduate School in consultation with the Provost. The Dean will convey the committee’s recommendation and the final disposition of the matter to all concerned parties.