Report #274

DATE: February 28, 2003
PARTIES: Mr. A.C. v. the School of Graduate Studies


Hearing Date(s): September 11, 2002

Committee Members:
Professor Ed Morgan, Chair
Dr. Alice Dong
Professor Luigi Girolametto
Mr. David Melville
Professor Cheryl Misak

Secretary:
Mr Paul Holmes, Judicial Affairs Officer

In Attendance:
Mr. A.C., the student
Professor Susan Howson, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies – appeal from termination from program – re-instatement in program – test for readmittance not met, unbiased evaluation of thesis sought and investigation into reasons behind negative vote of external examiner sought – external assessment of academic work – test for readmittance properly set out and met – no evidence that thesis should not have been allowed to proceed to defense – no evidence of misconduct or actionable bias – independent evaluation of thesis not required – no evidence that existing evaluations were improper – no evidence that undermined forcefulness or appropriateness of evaluation – no evidence of wrongdoing by external examiner – appeal dismissed

Appeal from the termination of the Student from the Ph.D program in the Graduate Department of Sociology. The Student was considered to be a “lapsed” student but had been readmitted into the program after a Faculty committee determined his thesis should go forward to defence. Upon reinstatement the Student’s thesis received a negative evaluation by an external examiner and it did not pass the program’s oral examination. After failing the oral examination the Student was terminated from the program. The Student appealed the termination directly to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board which, in dismissing the appeal, concluded that the reinstatement process had not been improper. The Student claimed that the Board erred in finding that the test for readmittance had been properly met and that the professor who oversaw his readmittance held no intellectual and philosophical bias against him; and that the Board erred in failing to seek and obtain an independent, unbiased evaluation of the thesis and to investigate the reasons behind the negative vote of the external examiner. The Committee found that the test for readmittance was properly set out by the Graduate Academic Appeals Board and was met in the case. The Committee found no evidence to indicate that the thesis should not have been allowed to proceed to defense. The Committee considered the Student’s version of the conversations between him and the Professor in question, and found that while the Professor may have told the Student that he was not up to expected standards, that did not establish any misconduct or actionable bias. The Committee found that the Board was not required to seek an independent evaluation of the thesis because there was no evidence that the existing evaluations were biased, done in bad faith, or otherwise improper. The thesis was already subject to an external evaluation that was highly critical. The Committee found that there was nothing put before it that undermined the forcefulness or appropriateness of the existing external evaluation. The Committee found that the Student did not provided evidence of wrongdoing by the external examiner and to conduct an investigation based solely on the Student’s claim of wrongdoing would have been inappropriate. Appeal dismissed.