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Statement of Rackham Graduate Faculty Values, Privileges, and Responsibilities

The Rackham Graduate School Executive Board has adopted into its bylaws a statement of values, privileges, and responsibilities of the Rackham graduate faculty. This statement, a complement to the academic and professional standards that have been established for Rackham students, is intended to inspire and guide the faculty who for decades have made the University of Michigan a world leader in graduate education.

The Rackham Executive Board approved adoption of this statement in September 2023 after a call for feedback during the 2022–23 academic year that engaged members of the graduate faculty, the chairs and directors of Rackham programs, the deans of schools and colleges, and other members of the Rackham community.

The particular responsibilities of faculty who teach and mentor graduate students have been recognized since the graduate school was established over a century ago. In 1995, Rackham inaugurated distinguished graduate mentoring awards to honor the contributions of outstanding graduate mentors to their students and to graduate education more generally. Awards for outstanding mentors of doctoral students recognize faculty “who support their intellectual, creative, scholarly, and professional growth, and foster a culture of intellectual engagement in which they thrive.” Awards for outstanding mentors of master’s students honor those who “demonstrate commitment to fostering the intellectual, creative, and professional growth of their master’s students.” More than 170 faculty have been recognized with these awards for their excellence and sustained commitment to graduate education and the success of their students.

Through the years, Rackham’s research has confirmed that the character of the multidimensional relationship that graduate faculty have with their students–as teachers, mentors, and advisers–contributes significantly to the quality of their graduate experience and success. Conversely, the graduate school has witnessed the difficult and sometimes devastating consequences that result when a faculty member misuses or abuses the faculty-student mentoring relationship or other standards of professional ethics in their role as a member of the graduate faculty. This statement of values, a complement to the academic and professional standards that have been established for Rackham students, is intended to inspire and guide the faculty who for decades have made the University of Michigan a world leader in graduate education.

Values of the Rackham Graduate Faculty

The cornerstone of the university’s reputation as a leading research university is the excellence of its graduate programs. The graduate faculty have distinctive academic and professional responsibilities for guiding their students in advanced study, research, and creative activity, and for preparing them as scholars, researchers, teachers, creative artists, and professionals in many fields. The graduate school expects that, as intellectual guides and mentors, the Rackham graduate faculty will:

  • uphold the principles of the academic freedom of inquiry and expression, and encourage the free pursuit of learning and research of their students;
  • adhere to the highest standards of scholarship, ethical norms, and values in the conduct of research, creative, and professional activities;
  • in the conduct of teaching and advising, ensure inclusive, equitable, and consistent treatment of students; maintain respect toward students as individuals; and, when discussing academic performance as part of student evaluations, maintain professional standards with colleagues and the trust that underpins the relationship between faculty and student;
  • support the academic progress and advancement of all students while recognizing the importance of student wellbeing;
  • promote and maintain an environment free of exploitation, harassment, intimidation, retaliation, or discrimination, or other mistreatment of students, as defined by the policies of the University of Michigan;
  • maintain cooperative and productive interactions with other members of the graduate community—including faculty, staff, and students—in promoting the quality of graduate education.

Privileges and Responsibilities of the Rackham Graduate Faculty

Members of the Rackham graduate faculty are invested with the privileges of and responsibilities for teaching, advising, and mentoring graduate students, and with the governance of the degree and certificate programs of the Rackham Graduate School with which they are affiliated. The Rackham graduate faculty:

  • provide regular and ongoing mentoring of students and for the development of their research and creative work, and give timely feedback and assessment on the academic work and progress of all students;
  • serve on dissertation committees, thesis committees of master’s students, and committees evaluating keystone projects for graduate certificate programs;
  • support the professional development of all students;
  • promote and inculcate the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct;
  • bring to the attention of the graduate program or the Rackham Graduate School any concern regarding policy or action affecting graduate education.

As members of responsible committees of the programs with which they are affiliated, the Rackham graduate faculty:

  • recommend applicants for admission and reinstatement by the Rackham Graduate School;
  • review and recommend for approval, as required, by program faculty and the Rackham Graduate School:
    • curriculum and requirements for degrees and graduate certificates
    • program governance procedures, academic policies and processes, and other program-related initiatives
    • suspension of admissions or discontinuation of the graduate program;
  • establish norms for faculty responsibilities and student achievement; consider recommendations for academic probation and dismissals of students as outlined in the program’s policy.

Members of the Rackham graduate faculty who are tenured are eligible to serve on the Rackham Executive Board as members of their Rackham division. All members of the Rackham graduate faculty may be nominated for awards from the Rackham Graduate School that recognize excellence in graduate student mentoring.