Criteria for Graduate Faculty Membership, Including Degree Equivalence and Tested Experience
This policy was approved by a vote of the Graduate Council on May 1, 2019
DEPARTMENTAL CRITERIA FOR GRADUATE FACULTY MEMBERSHIP, INCLUDING DEGREE EQUIVALENCE AND TESTED EXPERIENCE
Individuals teaching in graduate programs should hold the terminal degree determined by the discipline and have a record of research, scholarship or achievement appropriate for the graduate program. When the terminal degree is in a field other than that in which the individual is teaching, that faculty member should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline or subfield in which they teach. Only those who are actively involved in research/creative activity should direct the original work of others.
In limited cases, other factors, including but not limited to equivalent experience, may be considered as a substitute for the appropriate terminal degree or portions thereof. This experience is defined by the Higher Learning Commission as “tested experience”, in that it “includes a breadth and depth of experience outside of the classroom in real-world situations relevant to the discipline in which the faculty member would be teaching.” It is not based on years of teaching experience.
Under the Graduate Faculty Charter, the criteria for graduate faculty membership in an academic unit are defined by the Graduate Faculty Committee of that unit. In some academic units, there may be multiple sub-disciplines and/or multiple graduate programs, each with different qualification standards and/or different definitions of active involvement in research/creative activity. In this case, the academic unit must prepare separate graduate faculty membership criteria as appropriate for each sub-discipline or program.
A unit’s graduate faculty criteria must be consistent with Section 2 of Article IV of the Charter. To define the credentials or tested experience appropriate for the unit, the criteria should include the following:
This policy on unit graduate faculty criteria is not intended as a mandate to terminate current graduate faculty or deny renewal. Where possible, units should work with current graduate faculty on strategies for achieving the necessary qualifications.
 OU Graduate Bulletin, 8.1: “The doctoral degree is awarded for excellence in research scholarship, not merely because a program of courses has been completed or a given amount of time spent in its pursuit. It signifies the attainment of independently acquired and comprehensive learning attesting to general professional competence.”
A research doctorate is defined by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Survey of Earned Doctorates as a degree that is “oriented toward preparing students to make original contributions in a field of study that is not primarily intended for the practice of a profession. Research doctorates require the completion of a dissertation or equivalent project.” A list of frequently awarded research doctorate degrees accepted by NSF has been published by the Department of Education: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/doctorate.doc. Professional doctorates (JD, MD) are not research doctorate degrees.
Completed graduate faculty forms, updates to department criteria, and any questions regarding graduate faculty appointments should be directed to the attention of Stephanie Powers in the Graduate College.
For faculty with tenured, tenure-track, or ranked renewable term appointments and special member appointments use the Graduate Faculty Appointment and Renewal electronic form.
Access draft or submitted forms using your OU credentials here: Dynamic Forms.
Because of the critical role of the doctoral committee in promoting student success, we request that doctoral committee members set aside time to carefully review the recommended best practices for the doctoral committee listed below, whether this is your first time or your twentieth time serving on a doctoral committee.
We encourage you to consult the Graduate College Bulletin, and especially the following sections, so that you will be familiar with the processes and standards that govern each stage of the doctoral student’s progress:
8.5 The General Examination
8.6 The Dissertation
8.7 Dissertation Defense
We recommend that, if this did not already happen during the Advisory Conference, the committee undertake two tasks in consultation with the student: 1) establish committee roles and responsibilities, and 2) establish a provisional plan and timeline for the student’s completion.
1. Establish committee roles and responsibilities.
We recommend that the committee establish who will review the student’s work at which stages and set expectations about the reasonable turnaround time for feedback. While it is typical for the chair to provide feedback on the student’s work at early stages, we recommend that all portions of the dissertation be circulated to the full committee well before the defense so that the committee is aware of the specific nature of the student’s work and has ample opportunity to provide feedback. It is acceptable for some members of the committee to be more involved in giving feedback early on, and for others to play an active role in evaluating the work only as it is approaching completion. This plan should be agreed to by the committee in consultation with the student. Regardless of the specific plan adopted, the student is free to consult and share their work with all members of the committee at any time.
The chair will coordinate the activities of the committee and will typically be the student’s primary research mentor (though the co-chair is occasionally the primary research mentor). It is appropriate for all members of the committee to be kept apprised of the student’s progress, to be available for the student to consult, and to review the student’s work periodically. The chair should work with the student and all committee members to establish shared understandings of the roles each committee member will play in guiding and evaluating the student’s work, and in establishing appropriate timelines for the student to present their work and for the committee to provide feedback.
The co-chair may share research mentorship responsibilities with the chair or, in some cases, may be the primary mentor. The co-chair should work with the chair to ensure that there is a clear understanding among the student and the committee members about the respective roles of the chair and co-chair, and about the roles each committee member will play in guiding and evaluating the student’s work. Additionally, the co-chair should work with the chair, committee, and student to establish a plan for the student to circulate their work to the full committee and appropriate timelines for the committee to provide feedback.
Regular members of the committee will help to guide and evaluate the student’s work. They should be available for the student to consult, be kept apprised of the student’s progress, and should participate in reviewing the student’s work as it progresses. The committee should work with the student to establish a plan for the student to circulate their work to the full committee and appropriate timelines for the committee to provide feedback.
Graduate College Representative (GCR)
The primary role of the GCR (previously known as the outside member) is to ensure that the rights and interests of the student are safeguarded and that the policies and standards of the Graduate College are maintained. The GCR shall be present at all meetings of the committee and should be copied on all committee correspondence. The GCR must participate based on the current graduate college participation policy (GB 8.5.2) during the oral portion of the general examination and at the dissertation defense. It is appropriate for the GCR to encourage the committee to follow the guidelines and best practices outlined here, and the GCR has a responsibility to report violations of policy and procedure to the Graduate College.
The GCR must not have a close personal or professional relationship with any member of the committee or with the student that would constitute a potential conflict of interest. The GCR should not, for instance, be a research collaborator of the student or other committee member. (A collaborator from another unit can join the committee as a regular member; it is okay for the doctoral committee to have more than four members, , provided the committee membership requirements in the Graduate College Bulletin are satisfied.) Where the GCR has subject-matter expertise relevant to the student’s doctoral work, the GCR may be involved in providing feedback, though this is not essential to the GCR role. The committee should establish whether and how the GCR will be included in assessing the student’s work.
2. Establish a provisional plan and timeline for the student’s completion.
We encourage the committee to work with the student now to establish a plan and timeline for completion. The committee should then review the student’s progress at least annually and revise the plan as appropriate. In determining the timeline, it is crucial to recognize that before the defense, the committee needs time to review the complete dissertation, request revisions, and review and approve the revised version of the document. We recommend that a plan for the final stage be established at the outset so that there are shared expectations about when the student must submit the complete dissertation to have a prospect of defending during the planned completion semester.
The full committee must review the dissertation reading copy before defense scheduling. When authority is requested for the dissertation defense, at least ten working days before the defense is held, the chair and all committee members must personally certify that they have reviewed the reading copy of the dissertation and judge it satisfactory to proceed to the defense. (The GCR need not evaluate the quality of the dissertation unless it has been agreed that this will be part of the GCR’s role; however, the GCR should have received the dissertation and should be in a position to attest that all other members have received and approved it.) Authority must not be requested until the committee has received and reviewed the complete document and judged it ready for defense. Because an unsatisfactory defense results in the student’s immediate dismissal from the program, it is imperative that the defense not be held until the dissertation has been revised to meet the committee’s standards. If there is a dissenting opinion on the committee and the matter cannot be resolved, we recommend that the chair contact Senior Associate Dean Sherri Irvin or Associate Dean Liz Karr for consultation.
We are grateful for your service to the student, the Graduate College, and the university. The Graduate College is here to support you and the student. If you have any questions about your responsibilities or relevant policies, or if at any point you would like to consult about the committee’s processes or the student’s progress or well-being, please don’t hesitate to contact Senior Associate Dean Sherri Irvin directly at email@example.com or Associate Dean Liz Karr at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also welcome to refer students Dr. Irvin or Dr. Karr for a confidential consultation if they are experiencing challenges that may interfere with their academic progress or well-being.
The Graduate Council voted unanimously in May 2019 to implement new status definitions: RM0, RM1, RM2, RM3, RM4, and SM. Graduate faculty appointments requested via the electronic forms process in April 2020 and after will use these new status definitions, and the previous ones will gradually be phased out.
|RM0||May teach graduate-level classes|
|RM1||All the privileges of RM0 and may serve on master's degree committees|
|RM2||All the privileges of RM1 and may chair non-thesis master's committees|
|RM3||All the privileges of RM2 and may chair master's thesis committees and serve on doctoral committees|
|RM4||All the privileges of RM3 and may chair doctoral committees|
|SM||Special Membership status. May be granted the privilege to teach graduate-level classes, to serve on graduate examination committees, or to serve on thesis or dissertation committees, at the discretion of the academic department and subject to the approval of the graduate dean. Individuals meeting certain conditions may also be granted the privilege to chair committees. May not serve as the Graduate College Representative of dissertation committees. Additional information regarding SM appointments may be found below.|
The previous levels of graduate faculty membership - M0, M1, M2, M3 - are being phased out but will still be considered valid until their approved end dates.
|M0||May teach graduate-level classes|
|M1||All the privileges of M0 and may serve on and/or chair master's degree committees|
|M2||All the privileges of M1 and may serve on doctoral committees|
|M3||All the privileges of M2 and may chair doctoral committees|
|SM||Special Membership status. May be granted the privilege to teach graduate-level classes, to serve on graduate examination committees, or to serve on thesis or dissertation committees, at the discretion of the academic department and subject to the approval of the graduate dean. Individuals meeting certain conditions may also be granted the privilege to chair committees. May not serve as the Graduate College Representative of dissertation committees.|
The possible privileges included with SM appointments are:
Most SM faculty appointments will have a maximum term of 2 years (terms can be renewed). SM appointments marked with an asterisk (*) will be limited to a maximum term of 5 years.
The following policies and procedures outline the specific considerations regarding privileges under the SM status:
3. Each unit must establish clear procedures for considering Special Membership of graduate faculty. These should be defined in the unit’s criteria for graduate faculty membership (see IV.1.a.1. of the Graduate Faculty Charter) and should state how voting on departmental nominations for SM appointments will be conducted (e.g., will this be a vote of the department’s entire graduate faculty or of the Graduate Faculty Committee.
The criteria should also address the following:
4. No criterion for determining qualifications of SM faculty to chair graduate committees or count toward the departmental majority can be less rigorous than for the equivalent Regular Member appointment in the unit.
5. After nomination by the unit, the appointment of a SM faculty member with the privilege of chairing graduate committees and/or counting toward the departmental majority will be reviewed by the Graduate Faculty Membership Committee of the Graduate Council. The Graduate Faculty Membership Committee’s recommendation will be advisory to the Graduate Dean, who will make the final decision on the SM appointment.
In keeping with current policy, Special Members will not be allowed to serve as the Graduate College Representative (formerly called the Outside Member) on doctoral committees.
A regular faculty member whose appointment is in an academic unit that does not offer graduate programs is eligible to request RM status in the Graduate Faculty as a Graduate College member-at-large. Member-at-large status is subject to the review and approval of the Graduate Council and Graduate College dean. Members-at-large are typically appointed for a maximum of five years at a time. Requests for member-at-large status should be submitted by email to email@example.com and include: a.) the name and title of the faculty member, b.) the faculty member’s academic unit, c.) the RM level requested, d.) an up-to-date copy of the faculty member’s curriculum vita, and e.) a justification for the request (e.g. “to serve as Graduate College Representative on committees in the Department of History,” “to chair doctoral committees in the School of Meteorology,” etc.). Requests will be routed to the Graduate College dean and Graduate Council for review. Faculty who have requested member-at-large status will be notified of the outcome via email.
(As approved by the Graduate Council of The University of Oklahoma‑Norman Campus at the October 2, 2019 meeting.)
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA‑NORMAN CAMPUS
PROCEDURE FOR RESCISSION OF GRADUATE FACULTY STATUS
“As teachers, faculty members encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Faculty members demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Faculty members make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between faculty member and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.” (Faculty Handbook, 3.2.2 Academic Responsibility).
Graduate faculty members have an academic responsibility to remain current in their discipline. When supervising original work by graduate students, Graduate Faculty must also be active in scholarship or creative activity appropriate for that discipline.
(A) GROUNDS FOR RESCISSION OF GRADUATE FACULTY STATUS
As outlined in the Graduate Faculty Charter (Article IV, Section 3.c.), in “certain cases, such as those of professional incompetence, dishonesty, or failure to fulfill professional duties related to Graduate Faculty membership, a member may have some or all privileges on the Graduate Faculty rescinded prior to the end of the term of appointment. This is an exceptional event and should be undertaken only after other administrative remedies have failed.”
Possible grounds for rescission of a Graduate Faculty appointment include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) scholarly misconduct, as defined in the Faculty Handbook (section 3.26.1);
(2) failure to fulfill a Graduate Faculty member’s academic and/or graduate mentoring responsibilities (academic responsibility is defined in Faculty Handbook section 3.2.2 and in the introductory section of this policy document);
(3) failure to adhere to Graduate College policies or University policies relating to graduate education.
(B) INITIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW
When reasons arise to question an individual’s Graduate Faculty status, the circumstances should be brought to the attention of the appropriate administrative officer(s) (i.e., Chair or Director of the unit, Graduate Liaison, Academic Dean, or Graduate Dean) who shall ordinarily investigate the matter to include, among other things, meeting with the Graduate Faculty member in person to discuss the matter, unless reasonably prevented from doing so. If after investigation, the administrative officer determines the conduct warrants rescission of Graduate Faculty status, he/she shall convey the matter and a recommendation to the Graduate Dean. However, if he/she determines the conduct does not warrant a change in Graduate Faculty status, then the matter may be resolved by mutual consent.
(C) DECISION BY THE GRADUATE DEAN
Following the initial administrative review, the Graduate Dean will conduct a thorough review of the matter, including the Graduate Faculty member’s conduct, pertinent Graduate College and University policies, and the unit’s published criteria for Graduate Faculty membership. During this investigation, the Graduate Dean may conduct additional interviews and seek additional documentation.
If at any point the Graduate Dean discovers possible violations of law or other university policies, the Graduate Dean will refer the matter to the appropriate officials.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Graduate Dean will issue a report of the decision to the Graduate Faculty member, Chair or Director of the unit, Graduate Liaison, Academic Dean, and Provost. If the decision is not to rescind Graduate Faculty privileges, then the matter will be considered resolved. If the decision is to rescind some or all privileges of Graduate Faculty membership, then the changes in privileges will be implemented immediately. Privileges that have been rescinded through this process cannot be reinstated by an academic unit without approval of the Graduate Dean.
The Graduate Dean’s decision may be appealed by any of the parties involved through the University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Procedure for Appeal of Graduate Faculty Status.
(As approved by the Graduate Council of The University of Oklahoma‑Norman Campus at the October 2, 2019 meeting.)
UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA‑NORMAN CAMPUS
PROCEDURE FOR APPEAL OF GRADUATE FACULTY STATUS
Under the Graduate Faculty Charter (Article IV, Section 2), Graduate Faculty membership is granted by academic units. Each unit is responsible for developing and publishing criteria for membership on the Graduate Faculty and for providing the Graduate Dean with a list of members in accordance with the Charter. Faculty members may appeal to the Graduate Dean decisions of an academic unit regarding their Graduate Faculty status, and decisions of the Graduate Dean regarding Graduate Faculty status may be appealed to the Provost, whose decision will be final. The policy and procedures for appeals of Graduate Faculty status are as follows:
(A) WHO MAY APPEAL
(1) Norman Campus Faculty
The appeal procedures described herein shall be available to any member of the regular faculty appointed through the Norman campus seeking to contest a decision by an academic unit or by the Graduate Dean regarding their Graduate Faculty status.
(1) Timing of Appeal
Faculty may appeal their Graduate Faculty status within 60 calendar days of their notification of a change or denial of Graduate Faculty membership. The time period may be extended as may be provided by applicable policy, for good cause, or as may be agreed to by the appellant and academic unit and approved by the Graduate Dean.
(2) Filing of Appeal
An appeal must be submitted in writing to the Graduate Dean. It must include the specific matter(s) being appealed (e.g., Graduate Faculty privileges, level and duration of appointment), all particulars on which the appeal is based, and the specific relief sought by the appellant. The grounds for an appeal and the relief sought may not be changed after the appeal is filed.
(3) Withdrawal of Appeal
The appellant may withdraw the appeal by written notification to the Graduate Dean. Once withdrawn, the same appeal may not be resubmitted.
(C) APPEAL REVIEW PROCESS
(1) Informal Review
The Graduate Dean will first seek resolution of the appeal through discussions with the parties involved. If the appellant agrees in writing to a resolution of the appeal, then the appeal process will stop at that point. Once resolved in this way, the same appeal may not be resubmitted.
(2) Formal Review
If the appeal is not resolved through the informal review, then it will be forwarded to the Graduate Faculty Membership Committee (GFMC) of the Graduate Council for formal review. The Graduate Dean will oversee the formal review process. However, if the appeal is of a decision made by the Graduate Dean, then the Graduate Dean will recuse, and the Graduate Dean of the Tulsa Campus will oversee the process. Any member of the GFMC who is a member of the same academic unit or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any of the parties involved or who has a personal interest in the outcome will be disqualified from participating in the review. The GFMC will interview the appellant, the chair or director of the unit, and members of the unit’s Graduate Faculty Committee, and obtain additional documentation as needed.
Once the appeal is forwarded to the GFMC, it will have 60 calendar days to submit a report of its recommendations for disposition of the appeal to the Graduate Dean and appellant. This deadline may be extended for good cause by the Graduate Dean, with notice to the appellant. The report shall include all documentation received by the GFMC, a summary of the GFMC’s work, and a detailed explanation of the GFMC’s justification for its recommendations.
(3) Decision of the Graduate Dean
Within 20 calendar days after receiving the report of the GFMC’s recommendations, the Graduate Dean will provide a decision in writing to the appellant.
(4) Appeal to the Provost
Upon receipt of the Graduate Dean’s decision, the appellant will have 10 calendar days to submit a written appeal of the decision to the Provost. The Graduate Dean will provide to the Provost copies of the original appeal, the GFMC’s report, and the Graduate Dean’s decision. The Provost or Provost’s designees may interview the appellant and other parties and obtain additional documentation, as needed. The Provost’s decision on the appeal is final.