October 10, 2022 (Draft)
In March 2022, the Rackham Executive Board adopted bylaws that delineate its general responsibilities as the governing body of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. The bylaws describe the membership in the Rackham graduate faculty and their general responsibilities for graduate education in the Rackham programs where they hold appointments.
To further advance graduate education at the University of Michigan, the Rackham Executive Board will now consider adopting into its bylaws a statement of values, privileges, and responsibilities of the faculty who do the work of graduate education for the students and programs of the Rackham Graduate School. The board’s consideration will occur after a period of feedback and discussion to take place in the 2022 fall term that will engage the graduate faculty, the chairs and directors of Rackham programs, the deans of schools and colleges, and members of the Rackham community. The Rackham Executive Board will consider adoption of the statement in the 2023 winter term.
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 and research, and for preparing them as scholars, researchers, teachers, 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 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 professor and student;
- support the academic progress and advancement to degree completion of all students;
- avoid any exploitation, harassment, intimidation, retaliation, or discriminatory treatment of students, including sexual and gender-based misconduct, as defined by the policies of the University of Michigan (SPG 201.89-1, Discrimination and Harassment; SPG 201.35, Nondiscrimination Policy Notice; SPG 601.89, Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct; SPG 601.90, Protection from Retaliation);
- 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 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.
Additional Planned Activities
If the Rackham graduate faculty statement of values, privileges, and responsibilities is adopted, the Rackham Graduate School will engage in the following activities:
- Develop an orientation for new members of the graduate faculty, including newly hired faculty members.
- Pursue expansion of the membership of the Rackham graduate faculty to reflect the current status of their participation in graduate education. These participants include members of the research faculty, clinical faculty, and research scientist and lecturer tracks, serving with approval of the graduate faculty in their program.
- In accordance with university policy for professional standards of faculty and in partnership with the deans of the schools and colleges, establish policy and procedures to address allegations that a member of the Rackham graduate faculty has consistently or egregiously failed to uphold the professional standards described in this graduate faculty statement.