12.4 Graduate Assistant Dismissal Procedure

(Regents 11/13-14/69; amended 3/8/06; 7/1/17)

Effective July 1, 2017, this policy has been revised. For individual changes, see the redlined version.

  1. Preamble. The following procedure is adopted to provide guidance regarding the potential dismissal of graduate assistants during the term of their employment. This procedure is not applicable to decisions regarding reappointment or to changes of assignment within an appointment.

    This procedure recognizes the statutory power of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to employ and discharge employees of the University (IC 262.9(2)). 

    Graduate students holding graduate assistant appointments also must remain students in good standing with their academic program. Evaluation of academic performance and procedures for dismissal from student status in a graduate program for academic reasons are described in the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College. Procedures for dismissal from student status due to violations of the University's Code of Student Life are described in Policies and Regulations Affecting Students.
  2. Definitions. As used in this policy:
    1. Graduate student — a person enrolled in the University as a graduate and/or professional degree candidate.
    2. Graduate assistant — a graduate student employed as a teaching or research assistant.
    3. Immediate supervisor — the person directly charged with directing or supervising the employment activities of a graduate assistant, and/or a departmental or collegiate administrator charged with the general supervision of the relevant graduate assistant.
    4. Appointing DEO — the departmental executive officer or director of the department in which the graduate assistant is employed.
    5. Academic dean — the dean of the college in which the graduate assistant is registered as a student.
    6. Appointing dean/vice president — the dean of the college or vice president of the division in which the graduate assistant is employed.
  3. Grounds for dismissal of graduate assistant appointees. Graduate assistants serve as temporary employees of the University and may be subject to dismissal during the term of their employment as outlined below:
    1. Enrollment in a graduate or professional program is a requirement to hold a graduate assistantship. Graduate assistants may be dismissed during the term of their employment for failure to register for classes or otherwise maintain enrollment in a graduate or professional program. Exceptions to this requirement may be made:
      1. if a leave of absence from the academic program has been approved by the Graduate College or professional program, or
      2. for summer assistantships without registration for summer classes, if the graduate assistant has pre-registered for the fall prior to the end of the spring semester.
    2. Graduate assistants may be dismissed during the term of their appointment for failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress in a degree or professional program, which may be evidenced by the failure to maintain a minimum grade point average or other requirements of the academic program.
    3. Graduate assistants may be dismissed during the term of their appointment as the result of sanctions arising from violations of the Code of Student Life.
    4. Graduate assistants may be dismissed during the term of their appointment due to an unanticipated loss of funding following a notice of 30 calendar days.
    5. Graduate assistants may be dismissed during the term of their appointment for proper cause related to job performance. Proper cause exists when the graduate assistant has failed to meet a duty, obligation, or stated expectation of performance established by his or her immediate supervisor, or the graduate assistant has violated a University, collegiate, or departmental policy. Graduate assistants may be subject to immediate dismissal for serious or repeated actions creating proper cause. Lesser offenses may result initially in progressive disciplinary action, but also may lead to dismissal for proper cause.
    6. Graduate assistants may be dismissed from their appointment for failure to return to duty following an approved leave from their assistantship.
  4. Procedures.
    1. Before any decision is made to dismiss a graduate assistant from his or her appointment, the appointing DEO or his or her designee shall meet with the graduate assistant and inform him or her in writing of the grounds for potential dismissal. The graduate assistant will be given an opportunity to respond in person or in writing. If the potential for dismissal arises from the graduate assistant's lack of satisfactory job performance, the graduate assistant may have a witness observer be present at any meeting held to discuss the basis for potential dismissal. Graduate assistants may be placed on paid suspension pending a final determination regarding the graduate assistant's employment.
    2. The appointing dean/vice president or his or her designee shall review the facts and circumstances, including the department's recommendation and the graduate assistant's response, using any necessary and appropriate fact-finding methods, and shall make a determination regarding dismissal or other disciplinary action. The appointing dean/vice president or designee shall write a letter of determination to the graduate assistant with a copy to the employing department. Copies of all dismissal or disciplinary actions also shall be provided to the Dean of the Graduate College and the academic dean, if not in the Graduate College.
    3. Graduate assistants may appeal dismissals during the term of their employment under the terms of this policy using the following procedure. (Alleged violations of the application and interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement are reserved for the contract grievance procedure for those graduate assistant employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.)
      1. The graduate assistant must initiate the appeal within 15 working days of the date of dismissal by the appointing dean/vice president.
      2. The appeal shall commence by the graduate assistant presenting the appeal in writing to the appointing dean/vice president. The graduate assistant also may request a meeting to discuss the basis of the appeal. The appointing dean/vice president or his or her designee shall respond in writing within 5 working days of receipt of the written appeal or the meeting, whichever is later. Copies of the response shall be sent to the employing department and to the Dean of the Graduate College and the academic dean, if not in the Graduate College.
      3. The graduate assistant shall have the right to be accompanied by a representative throughout the appeal proceedings.
      4. If the appointing dean/vice president's response fails to satisfy the graduate assistant, the graduate assistant may file a written appeal with supporting documentation with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost within 5 working days of receipt of the appointing dean/vice president's response. Upon receipt of this written appeal, the Provost or his or her designee (hereafter 'Provost') shall request that the appointing dean/vice president promptly submit a copy of the dismissal letter and all supporting documentation used in the dismissal decision and subsequent appeal.
      5. Within 5 working days of the receipt of the written appeal and all relevant materials from both parties, or as soon thereafter as feasible, the Provost shall call a meeting of the graduate assistant and the appointing dean/vice president or his or her designee, to review the process and reasonableness of the dismissal. At this meeting, the parties may present arguments and/or written evidence in support of their position. The final administrative determination shall be made by the Provost. The final determination shall be communicated in writing within 5 working days of the meeting to the graduate assistant, the appointing DEO, the appointing dean/vice president, the Dean of the Graduate College, and the academic dean, if not in the Graduate College.

(See also II-29 Hearing Regulations for Alleged Violations of Regents Rules.)