The university has an Ombuds officer, who is elected by voting faculty for a three-year term. The Ombuds is a designated neutral, neither an employee nor a management advocate. The Ombuds officer is empowered to facilitiate the timely and equitable mediation outside of the faculty grievance process. The role of the Ombuds officer is to foster a resolution to issues prior to the initiation of the filing of a formal grievance.
Each faculty member will have free access through proper channels to the offices of immediate and higher supervisors, Human Resources representatives, or other official alternate dispute resolution programs to discuss problems and complaints regarding the employment relationship. (TAMUS Policy 32.01.01). A faculty member of Texas A&M International University has the right under the statutes of Texas to present grievances concerning wages, hours of work, or terms and conditions of work, individually or through a representative, provided such representative does not claim the right to strike or bargain collectively. (TAMUS APRM B.4.5).
Grievances or disputes involving faculty can be categorized by the participants to the disagreement. These categories are:
Faculty – Student
Faculty – Faculty
Faculty – Administrative service or Administration (hereafter Administrator).
It is assumed that attempts at reconciliation and/or mitigation will occur immediately and the grievance or dispute procedures will not be activated. Nevertheless, if the dispute or grievance cannot be resolved, the procedures outlined below will be followed.
The time periods given in the procedure are deliberately brief in order that grievances may be resolved swiftly and in order to preserve the grievant’s right to other remedies within state and federal statutes of limitation. The time limits within the faculty-student procedures are briefest of those described, so that students will be able to return to their studies with as little disruption as possible; however, all three parties in any given step (i.e., the grievant, the person against whom the complaint has been filed, and the mediator / mediating committee) may agree in writing to extend or shorten the deadline. If the health or well-being of one of the parties is involved, the period of time allowed for each step will be accelerated (see below). Whenever a step in the procedure is not accomplished within the given time period (or the time agreed upon by all parties), the matter will proceed immediately to the next step.
Disputes over Academic Matters
Faculty members are responsible for determining the curriculum of a course, for developing appropriate methods of evaluating student learning, for evaluating fairly, for upholding academic standards, and for enforcing policies concerning academic honesty. Decisions made by faculty members regarding the quality or honesty of student work – especially decisions about course grades – are, as a matter of routine, accepted as authoritative and cannot be overturned by administrative officers. Students, however, have a right to expect faculty members to have defensible course policies and to implement them in a reasonable,
equitable manner. Students who believe that they have grounds for challenging faculty members’ decisions regarding academic issues – excepting those pertaining to matters of academic freedom – may appeal using the procedure outlined below [based on one recommended by the American Association of University Professors in Policy Documents & Reports, 9th edition, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press and AAUP, 2001, pp. 113-14]. It should be noted that in cases of academic dishonesty students may be subject not only to grade sanctions in courses but to disciplinary action (see Student Violations of Academic Integrity under STUDENT AFFAIRS below). Faculty members are required to report such serious breaches of academic honesty to their chair, their Dean, the Provost, the Honor Council, and the Vice President for Student Success.
Grade sanctions may be imposed only by faculty members, but suspension or expulsion may be imposed only by the Provost, as specified in the Student Handbook. As with disputes about course grades, students may appeal grade sanctions for academic dishonesty only by following the procedure outlined below. However, if they wish to appeal the Provost’s decision to suspend or to expel them because of academic dishonesty, they must initiate their appeal with the President of the University following the procedure the President has established for such cases.
Except under unusual circumstances, the process outlined below for student appeals of faculty academic decisions should be completed within three academic work weeks (15 working days) after the student’s first meeting with the faculty member to question the faculty member’s decision.
1. The student must first meet with the faculty member and discuss the faculty
member’s decision. This meeting should occur as soon as possible after the
decision has been made, normally within one week of the student’s being notified
of the decision. The faculty member is expected to listen to the student, to
provide an explanation for his or her decision, and to be willing to change the
grade or decision should the student’s argument be persuasive. To change final
course grades, a faculty member must submit a “Grade Change Form” and attach
an accompanying memorandum justifying the decision to change the grade. The
faculty member’s department chair and Dean must approve the change.
2. If the faculty member refuses to alter his or her decision or grade, the student may
then discuss the matter with the faculty member’s department chair or immediate
academic supervisor (hereafter, “chair” will be used to mean either the department
chair or the immediate academic supervisor). If the chair believes that the
student’s claims may have merit, the chair would discuss the matter with the
3. If the student is not satisfied with the chair’s assessment of the issue or if the
faculty member refuses to alter his or her decision after discussing it with the
chair, the student may then request that an ad hoc committee of faculty members
review the matter. This committee would consist of three tenured faculty
members within the same discipline or department. If in some unusual case
the chair determines that a sufficient number of tenured faculty members cannot be
selected from the same discipline or department, then the chair may add tenured
faculty members from closely related disciplines. From the pool of eligible
tenured faculty members designated by the chair, the faculty member, the student,
and the chair would each nominate one faculty member to serve on the
4. The ad hoc committee of faculty members would hear from the student, the
faculty member, and the chair and examine relevant documents. If the committee
concludes that the faculty member’s original decision was justified, then the
committee would provide the student with a written statement explaining the
reasons for the committee’s decision. The student may request in writing that the
committee reconsider its decision and provide reasons for so doing. If the
committee refuses to reconsider or if it reaffirms its original recommendation,
then the matter is considered settled and the faculty member’s original decision
stands. If the committee concludes that the faculty member should alter his or her
original decision, the committee would provide the faculty member with a written
recommendation explaining the committee’s reasons. If the faculty member
disagrees with the committee’s recommendation, he or she must provide the
committee with a written explanation for the refusal.
5. If after considering the faculty member’s explanation for refusing to alter his or
her decision the ad hoc committee is still persuaded that in the interest of justice
to the student the decision should be overturned, then the committee may
recommend in writing to the chair that the faculty member’s decision be
overturned. The committee may also make this recommendation to the chair if
the faculty member fails to alter his or her decision and also fails to respond to the
committee’s original recommendation. The faculty member would receive a copy
of the recommendation to the chair and would have a final opportunity to alter his
or her original decision. If the faculty member does not do so, then the chair, and
only the chair, would be empowered by the written recommendation of the
committee to override the faculty member’s original decision, and, if pertinent to
the case, to alter the student’s course grade. In order to certify that the grade
dispute process outlined above has been followed appropriately, the Dean of the
college or the school and the Provost will review all decisions by chairs to change
grades against the will of a faculty member.
Conflicts between faculty members and students that do not relate to faculty decisions regarding such academic issues as course policies and grades will be considered the subject of grievances. The process for resolving grievances between faculty members and students is as follows.
1. Before a grievance is filed, the aggrieved faculty member or student must make a
good faith effort to meet with the other party about his or her concerns. If the
other party is unwilling to meet, if the aggrieved party has reasonable concerns
about his or her physical safety, or if the meeting produces no resolution to the
conflict, then the aggrieved party may initiate a grievance by following the steps
2. If the grievant is a faculty member, he or she will file a written complaint with the
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs. If the grievant is a student, he or
she will file a written complaint with the faculty member’s department or division
chair. In either case, both parties will receive a written acknowledgement of the
complaint within five working days.
3. The student and faculty member will meet with the Associate Vice President for
Student Affairs (or a designated staff member from Student Affairs) and the
faculty member’s chair. Both the faculty member and the student must be
present, unless one party waives that right. This meeting will take place within
five working days of the acknowledgement of the grievance.
4. If the complaint remains unresolved after meeting with the department chair and
the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, then within five working days of
the meeting with the chair and the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs,
both the student and the faculty member will meet with either the Dean of the
respective college (or academic administrator to whom the chair reports) if the
grievant is a student, or with the Vice President for Student Success if the grievant
is a faculty member. Both the faculty member and the student must be present,
unless one party waives that right.
5. If the complaint remains unresolved after that meeting, it will then be heard
within five working days by an ad hoc committee consisting of the faculty
member’s department or division chair, the Associate Vice President for Student
Affairs (or a designated staff member from Student Affairs), a member of the
Student Government Association selected by the President of the Student
Government Association, a member of the Faculty Senate selected by the Faculty
Senate President, and a person selected by the non-grieving party from his or her
peers. The chair of the committee will be the Associate Vice President for
Student Affairs (or the Vice President for Student Success’s designate) if the
grievant is a faculty member, or the department chair if the grievant is a student.
The chair of the committee will ensure that the committee is formed appropriately
and meets on schedule. After hearing from both sides in the dispute and
examining whatever documentation has been provided by the parties involved, the
ad hoc committee will make its recommendation in writing to either the Provost
or the Vice President for Student Success, as appropriate. Both parties involved
in the complaint should receive the written recommendation within three working
days after the committee concludes its deliberations.
6. The Provost or the Vice President for Student Success will notify in writing both
parties of his or her final decision to resolve the grievance within three working
days of receiving the committee’s recommendation.
7. If the complaint is unresolved to the satisfaction of either party, he or she may
appeal in writing to the President within three working days after receipt of the
written decision of the Provost or the Vice President for Student Success. Should
the President choose to do so, he or she may seek the advice of a University
Grievance Committee. In the special case of faculty-student grievances, the
President may expand the University Grievance Committee to balance faculty
representation with an appropriate number of representatives selected from the
Student Government Association or from the professional staff in Student Affairs
or some combination of both. The President’s decision is final.
The grievant will file a written complaint with the next immediate academic superior to both parties as detailed below. A complaint form, indicating the parties involved and the basic nature of the complaint, is available on the Provost’s website.
1. If both faculty members are members of the same department or division, then the
complaint would go to the chair. If the faculty members reside in different colleges,
then the complaint would immediately go to the Provost.
2. If one of the faculty members is the department or division chair, then the
complaint would go to the Dean of the college wherein the department or
3. If one of the faculty members is the Dean of the college, then the complaint
would go to the Provost.
4. If the Provost is one of the parties to the complaint, then a Grievance Committee
must be formed to hear the complaint, following the procedure detailed under
item 6 below.
5. The original recipient of the complaint will have fifteen working days in which to
meet with the parties. If a satisfactory resolution is not found, the grievance may
be appealed to the next line of authority, until it has been heard by the Provost.
No step may take more than fifteen working days. If the health of one of the
parties is at stake, then the period allotted to each step of the process will be no
more than five working days.
6. If a complaint cannot be resolved informally, then a Grievance Committee must
be formed from the University Grievance Pool. Each party will select two
committee members from the pool, and the Faculty Senate President will select
the fifth member. Faculty from the same college as either of the parties are not
eligible to serve on a Grievance Committee, and faculty members with personal
involvement in the grievance or other conflicts of interest should recuse
If a complaint reaches a Grievance Committee, the committee will hear appropriate evidence and witnesses. Both parties may be represented; however, the committee may define the role of the representatives as appropriate. In addition to the original complaint form, the grievant must provide a written dossier explaining the nature of the grievance and presenting any pertinent evidence, and the party grieved against may also provide a dossier. The contents of these dossiers will be made available to the opposing parties in the grievance as well as their representatives, if any. If either party wishes to add new evidence after the committee has commenced its hearings (but before it has made its recommendations), the committee may allow the additional evidence to be heard if relevant (subject to the stipulations above).
The committee will write its recommendations and submit them to the President. It will advise the parties to the grievance of its recommendation, in writing, within five working days after the hearings are completed. The Faculty Senate will maintain records of the hearing for a period of not less than ten years.
In the event of a faculty-administrator grievance, a Grievance Committee must be formed immediately following the procedure described under item 6 above. The grievant must complete a complaint form as for a Faculty-Faculty grievance, and in general the procedure follows the procedure described above under Faculty-Faculty grievances once the Grievance Committee has been formed. Note that grievances involving administrators with faculty status, such as Deans and department chairs, are resolved as Faculty-Faculty grievances (above). If for example a faculty member has a complaint against his department or division chair, the complaint goes to the Dean and then the Provost before a Grievance Committee is formed.