Student Complaints Concerning Faculty Action

Student complaints concerning actions of faculty members are pursued first through the mechanisms established in each college for this purpose. Although there is some variation among colleges, these mechanisms generally involve the following steps: 

  1. The student first should attempt to resolve the issue with the faculty member involved.
  2. Lacking a satisfactory outcome, the student should turn to the departmental executive officer, if any.
  3. If a satisfactory outcome still is not obtained, the student may take the matter to the collegiate dean.

The colleges of Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Medicine, and Nursing have written policies and procedures for resolving complaints. In addition, some colleges (Dentistry, Engineering, Law, and Nursing) also have established an ombudsperson system as an alternative mechanism for handling student complaints. Information concerning the mechanisms established in a specific college is available in the collegiate dean’s office.

Graduate students should consult with the associate dean for academic affairs in the Graduate College concerning mechanisms for resolving complaints. Generally speaking, an academic complaint filed by a graduate student will be resolved without respect to the grievant’s employment status. Employment-related grievances are resolved in one of two ways. Graduate students who are not members of the UE-COGS bargaining unit should refer to the general University student-employee grievance protocol set forth in Section I below (“Student Employee Grievance Procedure”). For graduate student assistants, the procedure contained within the collective bargaining agreement between the State Board of Regents and the United Electrical & Machine Workers Union, Local 896-COGS, is the exclusive remedy for resolving employment-related grievances.

A student dissatisfied with the outcome of an academic complaint against a faculty member at the collegiate level may ask the Office of the Provost to review the matter. In addition, a student dismissed from a college or from the University for academic reasons may ask the Office of the Provost to review the matter. The function of a review by the Office of the Provost is to ensure (a) that the outcome was supported by substantial evidence in the record when the record is viewed as a whole, and (b) that relevant procedures of the department and/or college were followed. Appeal to the Office of the Provost should include: (a) a letter from the student explaining in what way the outcome was not supported by substantial evidence and/or relevant procedures were not followed; and (b) copies of all previous documents provided by or to the student in the departmental and collegiate reviews.

If a student’s complaint concerning a faculty member’s action cannot be resolved through the mechanisms described above, the student may file a formal complaint of violation of the Statement on Professional Ethics and Academic Responsibility as described in section III-15 of the University Operations Manual (http://opsmanual.uiowa.edu/human-resources/professional-ethics-and-academic-responsibility). Such a complaint will be handled following the Faculty Dispute Procedures established for dealing with alleged ethical violations, found in section III-29.7 of the University Operations Manual, on the web at: http://opsmanual.uiowa.edu/human-resources/faculty-dispute-procedures/ethics.