Grievance Procedures and Appeals

Concerns about various issues may arise from time-to-time in graduate school (e.g., regarding grades, scholarly progress, treatment by advisors, faculty, or students, work assignments, etc.).  This document outlines grievance procedures for graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Please note that the University has specific procedures for appealing grades and for reporting harassment or discrimination, which are described in their own sections below.  If you have any questions about these procedures, please contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs (R. Michael Burger, Associate Dean: 610-758-4281,

While many disagreements and concerns can be resolved by informal discussion among the parties, on occasion it may be necessary to initiate a more formal grievance resolution process.  Generally speaking, for issues regarding grades, courses or other aspects of a graduate program, students should first seek resolution directly with the faculty member(s) involved.  If resolution cannot be reached with the faculty member(s), the student should next bring the issue to the attention of the program’s graduate director and department chair.  If resolution cannot be reached within the department, the student should bring the issue to the attention of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

We encourage all relevant parties to try to resolve issues first by meeting to discuss the situation.  If this is unsuccessful, however, students should submit formal grievances in writing, with a description of their concerns and a requested course of action.  The faculty member(s) and (if subsequently involved) the graduate director and department chair will evaluate the student’s request and provide written responses.  If resolution is not reached within the department/program, these written records should be submitted in full to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs.  The Associate Dean, in consultation with the Dean of the College, will gather information and provide a decision.

If at any point in this process you are unsure how to proceed or have concerns about raising issues within your department/program, we encourage you to reach out to the Associate Dean’s Office at 610-758-4281 or You may also skip a step in the hierarchical grievance process (e.g., go straight to the department chair or associate dean) if you have serious concerns about approaching a particular individual.  For advice outside of the College, you can also contact the Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Student Life (Kathleen Hutnik; 610-758-4722, or the University Ombuds Office (

Appealing Grades

Appeals regarding course grades are governed by the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty.  These state:

“A student has the right to have all written materials submitted to meet the requirements of a course returned or made available for inspection. To be "made available" does not guarantee the right to a photocopy, but the materials may be examined in the faculty office or academic department office. All written materials not returned to the student must be retained by the faculty member or the department office for at least one long-session term following the completion of the course.

A student questioning the validity of a grade must file the appeal to the faculty member of the academic department before the last class day of the long-semester term following the completion of the course. This does not limit the ability to correct a grade based on miscalculation or data entry error.”

Further Appeals

Students who are not satisfied by the resolution provided by the procedures above may appeal by petition to the Committee on Standing of Graduate Students (SOGS).  (Petition forms are available here.)  Please note, however, that this committee deals only with academic issues.  The SOGS committee includes the graduate associate deans of the colleges, the director of graduate student life, and a representative from the Graduate and Research Committee.  The committee meets regularly with the Registrar and considers all graduate petitions.  The Registrar’s Office notifies the petitioner of the committee’s decision.

If a student is not satisfied with the decision of the SOGS committee, he or she may appeal the decision to the Graduate and Research Committee (GRC), an elected committee of the University Faculty. Appeals to the GRC are, however, rare and the petitioner must make clear in writing why the decision of the SOGS committee was inappropriate and why the resolution proposed by the petitioner is more appropriate.

Reporting Harassment or Discrimination

As per Lehigh University’s Policy on Harassment and Non-Discrimination:

Lehigh University upholds The Principles of Our Equitable Community and is committed to providing an educational, working, co-curricular, social, and living environment for all students, staff, faculty, trustees, contract workers, and visitors that is free from harassment and discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital or familial status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status . Such harassment or discrimination is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. The University strongly encourages (and, depending upon the circumstances, may require) students, faculty, staff or visitors who experience or witness harassment or discrimination, or have information about harassment or discrimination in University programs or activities, to immediately report such conduct.  (Full policy here.)

Reports should be made to:
Karen Salvemini, Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator
Alumni Memorial Building, Room 103
(610) 758-3535,

In the event that the conduct involves the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, reports should be made to:
Human Resources Associate
306 S. New Street, Suite 437
(610) 758-5195,

Reports of harassment or discrimination can also be made:

Before a disclosure is made, an individual who wishes to talk about these issues confidentially and without initiating a report or investigation can contact:

Lehigh University Counseling & Psychological Services
Johnson Hall, 4th floor

Lehigh University Chaplain’s Office
661 Taylor Street