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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs


Procedures for Termination of Assistantships due to Inadequate Performance

PROCEDURES FOR TERMINATION OF ASSISTANTSHIPS DUE TO INADEQUATE PERFORMANCE -- The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance to units in dealing with inadequate performance by graduate assistants. This policy applies only to inadequate performance by a graduate assistant in his or her duties and responsibilities during the term of appointment. It does not apply to (i) a decision by the unit not to renew an assistantship appointment, (ii) matters involving the academic performance of the graduate assistant, and (iii) the automatic termination of an assistantship appointment when the graduate assistant is no longer a student.

Position Descriptions -- Duties and responsibilities of graduate assistants vary widely among units, and even within units. In light of the nature of the obligations of a graduate assistant, it is not always feasible to provide a written description of the graduate assistant's duties and responsibilities. Where possible, however, it is recommended that the unit prepare a written statement of the duties and responsibilities of a graduate assistant (a "position description"). If a position description is prepared by the unit, it should be made available to the recipients of an assistantship at the time awards are made. [If there is no general position description used by the unit, the unit should provide a written statement of duties and responsibilities to the individual at the time he or she is awarded the assistantship.]

Performance Improvement Meetings -- When a supervisor determines that a graduate assistant is failing to meet acceptable standards, the supervisor will meet with the assistant. Together, they will review the duties and responsibilities expected of the graduate assistant, and the supervisor will identify those areas in which the performance of those duties and responsibilities is judged to be substandard. The supervisor should then advise the graduate assistant that if his or her performance does not improve to a satisfactory level within a time period specified by the supervisor, the assistantship will be terminated. The time period established by the supervisor should provide a sufficient and reasonable time for the graduate assistant to demonstrate a satisfactory level of performance. In some instances, the graduate assistant's failure to meet acceptable standards of performance may be disruptive of the educational process (e.g., failure to appear for a teaching assignment class, or failure to grade examinations in a timely fashion). In such instances, the graduate student should be advised that any subsequent failure to meet acceptable performance standards may result in subsequent termination of the assistantship. As soon as possible following this meeting (generally within five calendar days) the supervisor will provide the assistant with a written summary of the meeting, a copy of which will also be sent to the administrator of the unit.

Termination of an Assistantship -- If a graduate assistant fails to meet acceptable standards of performance as prescribed in the performance improvement meeting, the supervisor will notify the administrator of the unit. The unit administrator will schedule a meeting with the supervisor and graduate assistant as soon as possible, generally within three days. At that meeting, the graduate assistant's performance will again be reviewed. If it is concluded that the graduate assistant has failed to meet acceptable performance standards, the administrator of the unit may terminate the graduate assistantship appointment. The administrator of the unit will provide a written summary of the meeting and of the action taken to the graduate assistant, the dean of the college, and the associate dean of the Graduate School. Students should be notified, in writing, of consequences with regard to healthcare and/or other benefits when termination of an assistantship occurs, and be referred to the University's Student Insurance Office to determine the nature and extent of these consequences in individual cases. When termination occurs prior to the end of the semester, consideration should be given to providing a grace period prior to cessation of payroll, if necessary, in order to provide the student with an opportunity to arrange for alternative healthcare coverage or to make other arrangements.

Appealing the Decision of Termination of an Assistantships for Inadequate Performance -- If a graduate assistant wishes to appeal a decision of termination of an assistantship for inadequate performance, he/she may file a written appeal within 10 days of receipt of the written notice of termination with the individual to whom the unit administrator reports.  In cases where the assistantship is funded through multiple units (e.g., stipend from one budgetary unit and tuition from another), the decision to terminate the assistantship should be made in consultation with both(all) units involved, and any appeal must be considered jointly by the individuals to whom the respective unit administrators report.

IMMEDIATE TERMINATION OF AN ASSISTANTSHIP -- If a supervisor believes a graduate assistant has engaged in an act of research misconduct, the case should be referred to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research (see Policy RA-10); for other misconduct as dileneated in the Code of Conduct, the case should be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs. If it has been determined by Judicial Affairs that the graduate assistant did commit an act of misconduct, the assistantship may be terminated upon approval by the unit administrator in consultation with the dean of the Graduate School, without proceeding with a performance improvement meeting.  Acts of misconduct may include, but are not limited to, theft, fraud, physical altercation, sexual harassment, etc.

NOTE: Nothing within this appendix, nor within any portion of the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin, is intended to constitute a contract nor contractual terms. No provisions of this Appendix, nor any portion of the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin, shall confer contractual rights upon any parties. The terms set forth herein are subject to change unilaterally and without notice by University administration.

Approved by the Graduate Council, May 8, 2002.

Revised by special Ad Hoc Committee on Student-Related Polices, August 2005.



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