The Rackham Graduate School Executive Board has adopted into its bylaws a statement of values, privileges, and responsibilities of the Rackham graduate faculty, Dean Mike Solomon announced Oct. 18.
The statement, which was adopted after consultation with the Rackham community, will serve as a positive expression of the professional standards of the Rackham graduate faculty. It will complement the professional and academic standards that have already been established for Rackham graduate students.
“The cornerstone of the university’s reputation as a leading research university is the excellence of its graduate programs,” Solomon said. “Rackham 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.”
”This statement is intended to inspire and guide the faculty who for decades have made the University of Michigan a world leader in graduate education.” —Dean Mike Solomon
While their appointments are in other schools and colleges, Rackham graduate faculty members also teach graduate courses, mentor Rackham students, and serve on dissertation committees. They include tenured and tenure-track faculty, as well as other faculty members in Rackham programs who serve on dissertation committees.
The statement was adopted after a period of feedback and discussion last academic year that engaged members of the graduate faculty, the chairs and directors of Rackham programs, the deans of schools and colleges, Rackham Student Government, and other members of the Rackham community.
The Rackham Executive Board completed approval of the bylaws change September 27.
Solomon pointed to the character of the multidimensional relationship that graduate faculty have with their students—as teachers, mentors, and advisers—as contributing significantly to the quality of their graduate experience and success. Conversely, he said the graduate school has witnessed the difficult consequences that result when a faculty member misuses or abuses the faculty-student mentoring relationship or falls short of other standards of professionalism in their role as a member of the graduate faculty.
“This statement is intended to inspire and guide the faculty who for decades have made the University of Michigan a world leader in graduate education,” he said.
According to the statement, Rackham 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 well-being;
- 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.
The graduate school has developed a process to address allegations that a graduate faculty member has consistently or egregiously failed to uphold these standards. Allegations are brought to the attention of the Rackham dean. The process then involves a preliminary inquiry, a committee investigation where deemed appropriate, and a determination of whether sanctions are warranted.
Additionally, Rackham has developed an orientation for new members of the graduate faculty, including newly hired faculty members.
The complete graduate faculty statement, along with the full description of the allegations policy and process, is available on the Rackham website.