The Catholic University of America

Procedures for Appeal of Failing Grades within the Schools


1.       The following procedures are applicable in all schools.

2.       Each school of the University shall have a standing committee on failing grades appointed by the dean and consisting of three faculty members and two students. If the school has both graduate and undergraduate components, one student shall be an undergraduate and the other shall be a graduate.  

3.       A majority vote of the full membership of the committee is required for all decision-making.

4.       A student wishing to challenge a failing final grade shall submit a written appeal (e-mail appeals are not acceptable) to the dean of the school in which the course was offered.  The written appeal must be submitted in person or by registered U.S. Mail (or equivalent) with return receipt requested.  If the appeal is submitted in person, the dean must have received it within 15 business days after the final failing grade has been entered into Cardinal Station (for coursework) or notification of failure by the responsible committee (for non-coursework cases).  If the appeal is submitted by mail, it must be postmarked within 15 business days of grade entry or notification.  Note: hereafter, the term “instructor” refers to the course instructor(s) or responsible committee for non-coursework cases.

5.       The dean shall assign the matter to the chairperson of the failing grade committee.  Note: hereafter, the term “committee” refers to the failing grade committee and the term “chairperson” refers to the chairperson of that same committee.

6.       The chairperson shall by University e-mail or letter acknowledge receipt of the appeal to the dean, the student, and the instructor.

7.       The committee shall evaluate the appeal.  The committee may affirm the decision of the instructor without need for a hearing if the committee deems the appeal to be frivolous or without merit, which shall be communicated by the chairperson in writing to the dean, the student, and the instructor. 

8.       If the committee deems the appeal to be with merit, the chairperson shall inform by University e-mail or letter both the student and the instructor that they will be given an opportunity to be heard by the committee.

9.       The basis of the student’s appeal as originally presented shall not be construed to limit subsequent expansion of the grounds for appeal by the submission of a supplementary written statement; however, no additional written statement initiated by the student may be submitted after the committee’s first meeting with the student. A copy of the original appeal and statement and any subsequent supplementary written statement shall be forwarded to the instructor, who shall be requested to respond in writing to the original appeal and statement, as well as any supplementary statement.

10.     The written appeal shall set forth the names of any witnesses the student requests be called by the committee. The written response shall set forth the names of witnesses the instructor requests be called. Such written requests shall not be construed to prevent the designation of additional witnesses by the parties or limit the witnesses the committee may call, although the committee reserves the right to deny the requests.   Any additional requests must be directed to the chairperson in writing by letter or University e-mail. 

11.      All meetings of the committee shall be conducted by the chairperson. The student and instructor shall be invited to be present at meetings that are called by the chairperson to obtain evidence or hear arguments. In non-coursework cases where the instructor is not known to the student there will be an opportunity for separate meetings of the committee with the student and with the instructor.  All meetings shall be called with appropriate notice (minimum of one calendar week) and shall be closed. Neither the student nor the instructor shall have legal counsel present at any of the meetings of the committee.

12.      The committee shall consider all requests for suggested witnesses and invite those individuals the committee deems can appropriately contribute information relevant to the matter in question. Only those persons specifically invited by the committee may attend meetings. Moreover, any person asked to meet with the committee may request that he or she be heard without the presence of individuals other than the committee members. If the request is granted, charges or other pertinent information obtained at such a meeting shall be communicated to all of the concerned parties.

13.      In the event that a member of the committee is unable to participate in an appeal or recuses himself or herself from the deliberations, the chairperson shall immediately notify the dean, who will appoint another individual to the committee to serve temporarily for the period in which the current appeal is being considered.

14.      The committee should at all times attempt to bring about an agreement between the student and the instructor concerning the grade in question. If such an agreement is reached, the student shall withdraw his or her appeal in writing, the written withdrawal being submitted to the chairperson. If no agreement is reached, then the committee shall decide either to support the appeal by granting appropriate relief or to reject the appeal. Appropriate relief ordinarily would involve changing a failure to a pass. In no case will the committee assign a letter grade. In non-course situations, other forms of relief (e.g., recommendation by the committee to the dean to allow the student to retake a comprehensive or oral examination) should be available. A majority vote of the full membership of the committee is required for a decision. The decision shall be in writing and contain a summary of the reasons for the decision. This written report and all evidentiary material shall be retained by the dean for a period of five years. The student and the instructor may read the written report, but no copies shall be furnished to them.

15.      The decision of the committee either to support or to reject the appeal (without the summary of reasons) shall be transmitted to the student and instructor involved by certified return-receipt mail or by hand delivery.  The date and manner of transmittal shall be recorded.

16.      If the decision of the committee is to support the appeal and change the grade to pass, the chairperson of the committee shall notify the dean of the school in which the course (or other graded exercise) was offered, the dean of the school in which the student is matriculated, and the Registrar, who shall make the appropriate change in the student’s records. Credit earned in the course in which the grade is changed to pass will be counted toward satisfying degree requirements but will not be counted in calculating the student’s GPA. If the grade for a comprehensive or oral examination is changed to pass, the examination shall satisfy the comprehensive examination or oral examination degree requirement for which it was given.

17.      In addition to the procedures outlined here, each school may develop its own accompanying internal procedures.


Procedures for Appeal of Failing Grades to the Academic Senate

1.       Appeals can be made only if the following two conditions are present: (1) in making its decision the school committee failed to comply with the applicable procedures and (2) the school-level decision significantly contributes to a student’s dismissal from the University.  The appeal must set forth with particularity the grounds relied upon.

2.       An appeal to the Senate committee shall be made in writing to the chairperson and mailed or delivered to the appropriate dean (Dean of Undergraduate Studies for undergraduate students or the Dean of Graduate Studies for graduate students). The written appeal must be submitted in person or by registered U.S. Mail (or equivalent) with return receipt requested.  If the appeal is submitted in person, the appropriate dean must receive it within 15 business days after the student has been notified of the decision of the school committee.  If the appeal is submitted by mail, it must be postmarked within 15 business days of notification.

3.       The members and chairperson of the Committee on Failing Grades of the Academic Senate shall be appointed by the Committee on Committees and Rules of the Academic Senate. The committee shall consist of three faculty members and two students, one graduate and one undergraduate.

4.       A majority vote of the full membership of the committee is required for all decision-making.

5.       The Dean of Undergraduate Studies or the Dean of Graduate Studies shall assign the matter to the chairperson of the Senate committee.

6.       Upon receiving an appeal, the chairperson shall: (a) acknowledge receipt of the appeal to the sender, to the other party, and to the appropriate deans, and (b) request the report and evidentiary material from the involved school committee from its dean.

7.       The committee shall decide by a majority vote of the full membership to uphold the original decision of the school committee, or in exceptional cases, to constitute itself as the committee to grant a new hearing in accordance with the procedures required of the school committee.

8.       The chairperson shall forward to the Chair of the Academic Senate, in writing, the committee’s decision. The chairperson shall notify, by return-receipt mail or by hand delivery, the parties involved of the committee’s action and notify, if necessary, the appropriate University officials.

 

Procedures Issued by Academic Senate May 9, 1985. Procedures of 5/9/85 Modified and Adopted by the Academic Senate 12/15/2011 and Modified on 9/19/2013