Policy 2314 – Rescission of Awarded Degrees

Effective Date:  4/21/2010

Responsible Office:  Office of the Provost, 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of Louisiana System should be rescinded (or revoked).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.

  1. 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.

  2. The Dean shall notify the President and the Provost in writing of his/her intent to
    initiate proceedings and the grounds for such action.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. The hearing shall be held before the Provost 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.

  7. The Provost 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 Provost) 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.

  8. 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.

  9. The panel decision shall be by majority vote and communicated in writing by the Provost. 
    Voting members of the panel will include the two (2) faculty members and the Provost. 
    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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 Provost.  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.

  12. 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 Provost, 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.

  13. 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 Provost, President, and the
    graduate/respondent or his/her attorney in the same manner as for other notices above.

  14. Once the decision of the Board of Supervisors is communicated to the President, the
    Provost, and the graduate/respondent or his/her attorney in the same manner as for
    other notices above, the Provost will communicate if actions are required to physically
    rescind the degree. The Provost will order the University Registrar to:

    1. 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;

    2. 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);

    3. post a general comment on the student’s electronic record indicating rescission action
      and date of Board decision;

    4. and, load any admissions, registration, or transcript holds as required by the case.