Mutual Roles and Responsibilities for Faculty and Graduate Students: Guidelines

I. Introduction

A major purpose of graduate education at the University of Minnesota is to instill in each student an understanding of and capacity for scholarship, independent judgment, academic rigor, and intellectual honesty. Graduate education is an opportunity for the student to develop into a professional scholar. Graduate research and teaching assistantships offer an "apprenticeship" experience in the academic profession as well as financial support. It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to work together to foster these ends through relationships that encourage freedom of inquiry, demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and foster mutual respect. This shared responsibility with faculty extends to all of the endeavors of graduate students, as students, employees, and members of the larger academic community.

High quality graduate education depends on the professional and ethical conduct of the participants. Faculty and graduate students have complementary responsibilities in the maintenance of academic standards and the creation of high quality graduate programs. Excellence in graduate education is achieved when both faculty and students are highly motivated, possess the academic and professional backgrounds necessary to perform at the highest level, and are sincere in their desire to see each other succeed.

II. Suggested Principles for Mutual Roles and Responsibilities

The following principles illustrate what students should expect from their programs and what programs should expect from their students, to help achieve excellence in graduate education:

Principle 1: Information About Policies and Procedures

The University, collegiate units and graduate programs are responsible for providing students and prospective students with access to information about their graduate program, areas of specialization, degree requirements, and average time to completion of degrees. Graduate programs are responsible for providing access to information about graduate student financial support in the program, such as the prospects for fellowships, assistantships or other financial support and the proportion of students receiving financial support. In addition, graduate programs should provide students and applicants with information about career experiences of graduates of the program. All such information should be presented in a format that does not violate the privacy of individual students. Programs are encouraged to provide relevant information in their handbooks, websites or other readily accessible formats.

Students are responsible for keeping themselves informed about current policies of their program, their collegiate unit, and the University that affect graduate students. Students and alumni also have a responsibility to respond to program inquiries about their career development.

Principle 2: Communication About Academic Status

The collegiate unit and graduate programs are responsible for providing students with information about their individual academic status: who in the collegiate unit and in their graduate program is responsible for communicating to them about admission issues and progress through the degree program, how the communication will take place, and the possibility for appeal to a third party for assistance in resolving disputed issues.

Students are responsible for communicating with the collegiate unit and their graduate program about changes in their circumstances that affect their status and progress toward the degree.

Principle 3: Research Contributions

Individual faculty as research directors are responsible for providing students with appropriate recognition for their contributions at conferences, in professional publications, or in applications for patents. It is the faculty member's responsibility to clarify the principles for determining authorship and recognition at the beginning of any project.

Students are responsible for discussing their expectations regarding acknowledgment of research contributions or intellectual property rights with the appropriate person(s) in the research team, preferably early in the project.

Principle 4: University Governance

Departments and graduate programs are responsible for defining specific opportunities for student participation on committees as they deem appropriate. The University recognizes that graduate students make important contributions to governance and decision making at the program, department, college, Graduate School and University level; specific roles for participation are defined at each level by the relevant governing bodies.

Students are responsible for participating in University governance and decision making that enrich the campus community.

Principle 5: Respectful Employment Conditions

University faculty and staff are responsible for assuring that graduate students are able to conduct their work, as students or students/employees, in a manner consistent with professional conduct and integrity, free of intimidation or coercion. Students who are employees also have the protection of all University employment policies and laws. Graduate programs are responsible for providing clear communication to students about the possibility for appeal to a third party for assistance in resolving disputed issues.

Students are responsible for reporting unprofessional conduct to the appropriate body or person, as defined in the academic or employment grievance policy; they should be able to do so without fear of reprisal. Students are responsible for acting in a respectful and fair manner toward other students, faculty, or staff in the conduct of their academic work or work they may do in connection with an assistantship.

Principle 6: Conditions of Employment

The University (through its departments, research projects or other employing units) is responsible for providing to prospective graduate assistants a written offer of financial support before a response to the offer is required. Such communication must indicate their salary and the terms and conditions of their appointment, including the general nature of the work they will be performing, duration of employment, and whether and how this employment is tied to their academic progress. The details of specific teaching or research assignments may need to await later written clarification.

Students are responsible for accepting the conditions of employment only if they believe they are qualified and able to complete the tasks assigned. Students have a responsibility for communicating in writing any changes in their circumstances that affect their ability to fulfill the terms and conditions of their employment.

Principle 7: Safe Work Environment

Supervisors are responsible for providing a safe working environment for graduate students, and for developing and publicizing safety policies and training programs to achieve that goal.

Graduate students are responsible for helping to maintain a safe working environment, for adhering to safety policies, for participating in training programs and for reporting safety violations to the proper authority.

Principle 8: Responsible Conduct of Research

Students are responsible for carrying out their research in a responsible manner. The faculty and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) of the graduate program are responsible for ensuring that students receive training and guidance in the responsible conduct of research as appropriate for each field.

Other University Documents

These documents may provide information and guidance relevant to the graduate education experience:

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