Graduate Committees

Conflict of Interest Policies for Graduate Committees

To insure fair, unbiased, and professional conduct of graduate student work that could be endangered by conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest, certain precautions must be observed.

Upon appointment to graduate student’s advisory, thesis, or dissertation committees, faculty members must disclose to the departmental chair/program director and the Dean of the Graduate School any personal relationship with other committee members which might be expected to create a conflict of interest or give that appearance in relation to professional decisions and recommendations faculty members are required to render. These relationships may include legal, family, and business relationships, living arrangements, and personal.

The Dean of the Graduate School shall determine whether the potential conflict of interest or appearance thereof precludes the faculty member’s service on the committee, and if necessary will arrange for an alternate after consultation with the departmental chair/head or program director. [Note: Spousal/domestic partnership relationships do not require a conflict of interest statement.]

Similarly, graduate students’ advisory, thesis, and dissertation committees must be composed so that no member of the committee has any personal relationship to the student which might create a conflict of interest or give that appearance. These relationships may include legal, family, and business relationships, living arrangements, and personal partnerships of other kinds. If the potential for a conflict of interest exists, the faculty member will follow the guidelines of Fayetteville Policies and Procedures 404.0, particularly the section on student advising.

If there is uncertainty that any conditions constitute a conflict of interest between a student and members of the committee, or if the faculty member and department chair/head/program director disagree, the Dean of the Graduate School will determine the issue.

The Dean of the Graduate School shall adjudicate any complaint made by another party about a conflict of interest in committee membership. Moreover, if a student alleges that conflicts

Changing or Revising a Committee

If a committee has been approved and is on file with the Graduate School, any proposed changes or revisions to the committee must be submitted to the Graduate School for approval. Each member leaving or being removed from a committee must submit authorization agreeing to the change. The only exception to this pertains to the chair of the thesis/dissertation committee. The Graduate School considers the thesis or dissertation to be based on a mutual agreement between the faculty member and the student to work cooperatively on a research project of shared interest.

Either the graduate student or the faculty member may dissolve this relationship by notifying the other party, the departmental chairperson, and the Graduate Dean. However, the student and the adviser should be warned that this may require that all data gathered for the dissertation be abandoned and a new research project undertaken, with a new faculty adviser. See the Academic Grievance Procedures for Graduate Students.

NOTE: Leaving the employment of the University does not constitute automatic removal from approved committee assignments. Most faculty members complete their graduate committee responsibilities; therefore, removal from an approved committee must be initiated by the departing faculty member.

If a member of the thesis/dissertation committee does not attend the final oral defense, he/she will be removed from the committee by the Graduate School.

Graduate Faculty Status

In order to serve on any graduate student committee or teach a graduate-level class, the faculty member must have graduate faculty status approved by the Graduate Council. The only exception to this is for ex officio members of committees. Graduate faculty status may be requested by submitting the appropriate form to the Graduate School, after having obtained the signature of the graduate faculty representative for the academic college. The names of these representatives are listed on the website of the Graduate School. Graduate teaching assistants may be granted VI-T graduate faculty status under special circumstances, if the department stipulates that they will not be teaching their peers. Graduate teaching assistants must reapply for graduate faculty status each semester that they teach. There is a specific form to request graduate faculty status for students.

Ex Officio Graduate Faculty Status

Student committees may contain ex officio members who have graduate faculty status on the University of Arkansas campus. However, when a person does not hold graduate faculty status on the University of Arkansas campus, he/she may still be allowed to hold an ex officio position on a student’s committee, in accordance with the following policy: When a committee member does not hold graduate faculty status at the University of Arkansas, he/she will be allowed to serve on a student’s master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation committee, in addition to the minimum number of members required by the Graduate School or the department/program. The ex officio member will be allowed to sign the thesis or dissertation and his/her vote will be recorded but will not be binding for conferring the degree. This use of the term ex officio will indicate that the person does not hold graduate faculty status at the University of Arkansas and is serving in an honorary role.

Graduate Faculty Status for Emeritus Faculty

Faculty members who have retired from the University will retain the graduate faculty status they had at the time of retirement.