Rescission of Awarded Degrees
Effective Date: 4/21/2010
Responsible Office: Office of Academic Affairs, approved by Council of Academic Deans
This policy outlines the process and procedure for determining whether a degree previously awarded by Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System should be rescinded (or revoked). The process and procedures are to ensure requisite due process for the affected graduate. They also ensure that standards of fundamental fairness and academic integrity are upheld.
- The rescission process is initiated by the Dean of the appropriate College at Louisiana Tech University. The Dean shall make a preliminary finding of reasonable grounds to believe that there exists either (a) academic and/or research misconduct in satisfying the degree requirements, and/or (b) a material misrepresentation of credentials or degrees acquired.
- The Dean shall notify the President and the Vice President for Academic Affairs in writing of his/her intent to initiate proceedings and the grounds for such action.
- The Dean shall prepare a formal letter of notice to be sent to the graduate/respondent and his/her attorney or representative, if known, outlining the Dean’s intent to initiate degree rescission proceedings. The letter shall advise the recipient (a) that a hearing will be held to determine whether there is sufficient cause for rescission of the degree; (b) the date and time of the hearing; (c) the circumstances and preliminary evidentiary findings; and (d) the opportunity to have an attorney or other appropriate representative present. A copy of this Policy shall also be provided. The notice shall be sent by certified mail, return-receipt-requested, or by courier (FedEX, UPS, etc.) with signature receipt requested.
- The initial hearing for the graduate/respondent shall be held at Louisiana Tech University and scheduled promptly but no fewer than twenty (20) calendar days after the sending of the letter notice. The hearing may be rescheduled by the Dean upon the written request of the graduate/respondent showing good cause, at a time reasonably suitable for those individuals involved. A subsequent rescheduling shall be only upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances approved by the President.
- The graduate/respondent may expressly waive his/her right to a hearing and voluntarily surrender his/her degree. A waiver and surrender may be made at any time during the process. The waiver must be made in writing in a form approved by the President. The approved form will be included with the original letter of notification.
- The hearing shall be held before the Vice President for Academic Affairs and two (2) members of the tenured faculty of Louisiana Tech University designated by the President, taking into consideration any expertise needed under the circumstances. The Dean, an attorney representing the University, an attorney (or other appropriate representative) representing the graduate/respondent, and the graduate/respondent. The hearing shall be closed to the public and limited to persons with a material interest, as determined by the presiding officer, in the process, including witnesses during their testimony.
- The Vice President for Academic Affairs will act as the presiding officer for the hearing. The hearing shall be initiated with a presentation by the Dean (or his/her designee, if approved by the Vice President) of the relevant information which warrants the rescission. The graduate or his/her attorney or representative may make a statement and offer relevant information in response to the presentation by the Dean. The rules of evidence for a judicial civil proceeding shall not be applicable, but there shall be due regard for the reliability and trustworthiness of the information presented. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the panel will decide whether (a) the information presented supports a rescission of the degree or (b) the rescission proceedings should be dismissed for insufficient evidence of the matter charged. Panel deliberations may be in executive session. The panel may, upon specific request demonstrating need, also recess the proceedings for a reasonable, but definitive, time to allow additional investigation by the Dean and further response by the graduate/respondent.
- If notice to the graduate/respondent is not achieved by the procedures set forth above and other reasonable means (including U.S. Mail without return receipt and examination of Louisiana Tech University records for information which could reasonable lead to knowledge of his/her whereabouts (such as contact with indicated relatives), after consulting with legal counsel, the presiding officer shall fully document the reasonable efforts that have been taken to notify the graduate/respondent in accordance with due process requirements, and the hearing shall occur in his/her absence. Only reliable and trustworthy information may be presented to establish a prima facie case against the graduate/respondent, and a full record, including transcript, shall be maintained.
- The panel decision shall be by majority vote and communicated in writing by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Voting members of the panel will include the two (2) faculty members and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. A dissenting or concurring opinion may be issued. A copy of the decision shall be forwarded, promptly and usually within ten (10) business days of the hearing, to the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney (if they appeared at the hearing), the Dean, and the President. The decision shall contain a summary of relevant facts found by the panel and a conclusion explaining why there is sufficient cause to revoke the degree. The decision shall be sent to the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney by certified mail, return-receipt-requested, or by courier (FedEx, UPS, etc.) with signature receipt requested. A transcript of the hearing shall also be forwarded.
- Within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the panel decision, the graduate/respondent may appeal to the President if the panel recommended rescission of the degree. In the appeal, the panel decision will be reviewed based upon the record; and, in addition, the graduate/respondent will be afforded an opportunity to contest the panel decision orally and in writing. A transcript of the appeal shall be maintained. The President shall determine who shall be present at the appeal and the manner of proceeding in light of the nature of the appeal.
- If the President finds that the rescission of the degree is warranted, he/she shall make a recommendation to the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors to rescind the degree. A copy of the request shall be sent to the Dean and the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Notice, by copy of the request, shall be sent to the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney in the same manner as the notice of the panel decision.
- The review by the President shall be limited. Upon a determination (a) that there has been substantial compliance with the process and procedures and (b) that the record supports the decision of the panel and Vice President for Academic Affairs, the President shall recommend that the Board of Supervisors take final action to rescind the degree. In exceptional circumstances, the President may remand the matter for additional evidence or explanation as he/she deems appropriate. If the President finds that the requisite determinations have not been established, the proceeding may be dismissed.
- If the President recommends to the Board of Supervisors that the degree be rescinded, the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney shall be timely notified in writing that they may submit a written opposition to the Board and shall be notified of the date of the Board meeting at which the matter will be considered. Any written submission by the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney must be received at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the Board meeting. The decision of the Board of Supervisors shall be based upon the record, without further evidence or oral appearances, and is final. Notices shall be transmitted to the Dean, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, President, and the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney in the same manner as for other notices above.
- Once the decision of the Board of Supervisors is communicated to the President, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney in the same manner as for other notices above, the Vice President for Academic Affairs will communicate if actions are required to physically rescind the degree. The Vice President for Academic Affairs will order the University Registrar to:
a. send a request to the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney in the same manner as for other notices above, requesting return of the diploma provided to the graduate/respondent at commencement;
b. reverse the degree-posting and date on the official transcript and in all other pertinent education records maintained in the student information system (current and/or archive);
c. post a general comment on the student’s electronic record indicating rescission action and date of Board decision;
d. and, load any admissions, registration, or transcript holds as required by the case.