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Questions and Answers About the University Appeals Board

Who appoints the University Appeals Board?

The President of the University appoints the members, with the student members being recommended by the legislative branch of the Student Government Association. 

Who appoints the Chair of the Appeals Board?

The President of the University appoints the Hearing Officer.  This appoinment is for a three-year term and the Hearing Officer may be reappointed.  The term of appointment begins on September 1, and ends on August 31.  The Hearing Officer shall be a person with training in the law.

What is its source of authority to do what it does?

The jurisdiction of the Appeals Board is based on authority conferred by the University Senate Rules and the UK Code of Student Conduct. 

What is a quorum for conduct of a hearing?

A quorum is eight members, excluding the University Hearing Officer, and not less than five shall be faculty members.

Does the Chair of the Board have a vote?

The Hearing Officer has no authority to cast a tie breaking vote.

What vote is required to decide a case?

A simple majority vote is required to decide a case.

What are bases for appeal to the Appeals Board?

Allegations of violations of student's rights are the most common basis for appeals. Allegations of cheating or plagiarism may also be appealed. 

How are hearings scheduled?

Upon receiving an appeal packet from the Academic Ombud, the Chair of the Appeals Board circulates a number of possible time slots for conducting the hearing to the pool of members of the Appeals Board in an attempt to ascertain which would yield a quorum. When a suitable time slot has been identified, the appealing student and the other parties to the appeal, e.g., involved faculty, department chair, etc., are notified of the date, time, and location. 

What is the flow of an Appeals Board hearing?

The appealing student is asked to describe what he or she is appealing and the basis for the appeal. An attempt is made to allow the student to complete this opening statement without interruption other than for clarifying questions. At the conclusion of the student’s statement, members of the Appeals Board are given an opportunity to direct questions to the student. Upon the conclusion of this phase of the hearing, the faculty member is asked to provide his or her perspective on the matter.  Members of the Appeals Board may then direct questions to the faculty member. Once that is completed, the Appeals Board members may then direct additional questions to the student, and the student is offered the opportunity to present further evidence.  Customarily, the student is asked to answer the question, “What is your preferred outcome or result from this process?”  The hearing is adjourned and the Appeals Board deliberates the case with a decision reached before calling the next case.

What are the possible outcomes of a grade appeal case?

The appeal can be denied and the grade originally awarded stands. The appeal can be upheld and the grade can be changed to another letter grade (A, B, C, D, E or F) or a grade of P as well as a W can be assigned.

If the outcome is a grade of P, how does that affect a student’s GPA?

It has no affect one way or the other on a student’s GPA. 

If the grade is changed to P, will that ‘count” toward graduation requirements?

The general rule at UK is that a course required for one’s degree curriculum cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis; only electives may be taken on a pass/fail basis. However, if the grade of P was assigned by the University Appeals Board for a required course, that course will count toward graduation requirements, including core and major requirements.

How soon after the hearing will the student learn the decision of the Appeals Board?

The Chair attempts to notify the student the same day via email. Shortly thereafter, an official decision letter will be mailed to the student with a copy to the faculty member.

May the student bring someone with me to the hearing?

Yes, the student may be accompanied by a relative, representative, friend, or witnesses.  The Hearing Officer should be informed at least two days in advance if the student is bringing a relative, friend, or witness(es) and at least one week in advance if bringing a representative.

May the student present witnesses who have direct knowledge of the situation under appeal?

Yes, and the Hearing Officer should be informed at one week in advance. 

What information will Appeals Board members receive in advance of the hearing?

They will receive copies of the appeal packet assembled and forwarded by the Academic Ombud. The student and faculty member will also receive a copy of this same information from Academic Ombud Services.

Who has the “burden of proof” at an appeal hearing?

The student has the burden of proof in an appeal challenging a grade. The faculty member has the burden of proof in a case alleging cheating or plagiarism. 

Must the Academic Ombud forward a case to the Appeals Board for consideration?

Yes, if the case is an allegation of an academic offense.  No, if it is a case based on other factual situations.  If the Academic Ombud concludes that the case lacks merit, the student will be notified of that decision and given instructions on how to appeal the Ombud's decision directly to the University Appeals Board. In such circumstances, the student has 30 days to appeal the Ombud's no-merit determination.  The University Appeals Board will then address the issue of whether the case should be heard. 

May the student or faculty member present documents to the Appeals Board during the hearing? If so, how many copies should be provided?

Yes, this may be done. Please provide the Chair with an electronic copy of the document at least two days prior to the hearing.  The student may bring fifteen copies to an in-person hearing.

How far in advance of the hearing is the background material sent to the Appeals Board?

The goal is to have the case documents in the hands of the Appeals Board members at least one week in advance of the hearing with at least one weekend available for reviewing the materials.

Are the materials for the case sent to all members of the Appeals Board or just to those who will be hearing the case?

The appeal documents are sent only to the members of the Appeals Board who will actually be hearing the case.

What happens to those materials after the hearing?

The Hearing Officer retains one set for the University’s official records. All other copies remain in the hearing room and are shredded immediately after the hearing.

Are Appeals Board members from a variety of colleges and departments?

Yes, members are recommended by the University Senate Council and are to be “broadly representative of the University community.”

Are hearings formal with rules of evidence?

No, the hearings are conducted in an informal fashion designed to facilitate revealing the facts of the matter without becoming unduly burdened by constraining rules.

Is there a record maintained of what is said at the hearing?

Yes, an audio tape recording is made of the testimonial phase of all hearings. The recorder is not turned on for the Appeals Board’s deliberations.

May the faculty member direct questions to the student and the student to the faculty member during the hearing?

No, only the Chair and members of the Appeals Board may ask questions of the student or faculty member.  If a student or faculty member wishes to recommend a question to be asked of the other, the suggestion can be written down and relayed to the Chair.

If the Appeals Board determines a grade should be changed, how is that accomplished?

The Chair sends a copy of the decision letter to the University Registrar with a request that the student’s transcript be modified in accordance with the decision of the Appeals Board.

Who is notified of the Appeals Board's decision?

Senate Rules require the student, complainants (instructor, chair, responsible deans),  and the Academic Ombud are notified.  If the decision requires a change to the student's transcript, the Registrar is notified.  If a penalty of suspension or harsher was recommended initially, the Chair will also notify the Provost.

May the student or faculty member meet with the Chair of the Appeals Board in advance to review the flow of the hearing and see the hearing room?

Yes, and that is encouraged so the flow of the proceedings can be reviewed and the hearing location identified.

If there are multiple cases being heard on a particular day, who decides which case goes first?

The Chair of the University Appeals Board.

If multiple cases are heard on a particular day, how long will it be until the next case is called?

It is impossible to anticipate the length of a particular hearing.

How long does a typical hearing run?

A very inaccurate estimate is one hour.

If a key question is raised during the hearing and information is not available to resolve it, can the hearing be continued?

Yes, that is permitted.

Would these hearings be classified as adversarial or fact-finding?

The hearings are not adversarial; rather, they are intentionally informal to facilitate fact-finding by the Appeals Board.

Is there any appeal beyond the University Appeals Board?

No, the decision of the University Appeals Board is final.

Does the Appeals Board deal exclusively with academic appeals?

There is a provision in the Code of Student Conduct that gives the University Appeals Board authority to hear appeals of certain grievances. In those cases, the opening statement is made by a representative of the University to explain the matter as well as prior administrative decisions and actions.

Are Appeals Board Hearings open or closed?

A hearing is closed unless the appealing student requests that it be open. Often, the hearings involve matters of academic record or issues related to one’s health that individuals would prefer not to be aired in a public forum.

Must a grade appeal come through the Academic Ombud to reach the University Appeals Board?

Yes.

How is a decision made?

Appeals Board members hear the case, discuss it, make a motion, and then vote on the motion. A simple majority is required to adopt the motion. 

Is the decision final?

Yes.

What should the student and faculty member bring to the hearing?

The student and faculty member should bring any and all documents related to the issues, e.g., syllabi, copies of tests, quizzes, papers, email chains, etc.  In short, anything and everything one thinks might have bearing on the issue at hand.

Should I get “dressed up” for this?

No, it is not necessary to get ‘dressed up.'  Casual office attire is appropriate.

Does the Appeals Board have an office on campus?

No, it does not. All activities are conducted from the faculty office of the Hearing Officer who is Chair of the Appeals Board.

May the student continue attending class while the appeal is pending?

Yes, the rules specifically authorize that, with certain exceptions.

The Appeals Board is authorized to adopt Procedural Rules related to conducting its activities. Has that been done?

Yes.