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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Presidential Orders

Executive Order

No. 28

Graduate Student Service Appointments

1.  Introduction

  A. General Remarks

Graduate student appointments in teaching and research which provide financial support for graduate students are made available each year to qualified students at the University of Washington. These appointments are encouraged because they provide the student with valuable opportunities for in-service training in teaching, research, and related activities and because they are essential in enabling the University of Washington to carry out its mission of teaching, research, and service. Policies governing graduate student appointments are described in the sections which follow.

Appointments and reappointments are subject to the availability of financial support and compliance with applicable laws of the state of Washington.

  B. Definitions

In the sections below, the term "graduate appointments" will be used to include any or all of the designated appointment categories (Section 2), and the term "graduate appointees" will refer to graduate students who hold these appointments. The term "teaching appointments" will refer to the appointments entitled "Teaching Assistant," Predoctoral Teaching Associate I," and "Predoctoral Teaching Associate II;" and the term "teaching appointee" will refer to a graduate student who holds a teaching appointment. Furthermore, in non-departmentalized academic units, the terms "department" and "department chair" will refer, respectively, to "college" or school," and "dean" or "director" or other chief academic officer.

Conditions relating to graduate student fellowship or trainee appointments are considered in Executive Order No. 30. Conditions relating to the employment of Student Assistants, Student Helpers, and other graduate or undergraduate students employed on an hourly basis and/or in nonacademic positions are considered in Employment and Administrative Policies, Chapter 104.

Policies and procedures relating to Summer Quarter are described in Section 6 below.

2.    Eligibility, Selection, Promotion, and Termination

  A. Eligibility for Appointments

Graduate appointments are awarded to enrolled (not On Leave) graduate students only. While an initial appointment may be offered to an applicant before he or she has been formally admitted to the Graduate School, such an appointment is contingent upon the applicant's admission to the Graduate School and enrollment in a graduate degree program prior to the beginning of the appointment.

Graduate appointments with teaching duties may be assigned to non-U.S. citizens, provided that they meet English language proficiency requirements and participate fully in the International Teaching Assistant Program at the Center for Instructional Development and Research (CIDR). Teaching duties are defined as interactions with students over instructional issues such as holding office hours, tutoring, conducting labs, leading discussions, commenting on studio work, lecturing, etc. A complete description of this policy is found in Graduate School Memorandum 15.

Graduate appointees must make satisfactory progress toward their degrees and perform satisfactorily in the duties of their appointments. Full-time (ten credits) enrollment is required of appointees during Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters. Summer Quarter policies are found in Section 6.

  B. Selection of Appointees

    1) Criteria for Initial Appointments

An initial offer of appointment is normally based on evaluation of the applicant's academic credentials and the department's judgment of the applicant's potential for sustained achievement in the field of graduate study and for a high standard of performance in teaching, research, or related activities. Selection criteria should be published and accessible to all applicants.

    2) Criteria for Reappointment

Reappointment decisions are normally made on the basis of satisfactory progress toward the degree, performance of TA/RA/SA duties, and availability of positions.

      a) Guidelines for Reappointment—Each appointing unit shall establish and publish guidelines describing satisfactory progress in the graduate program (see Graduate School Memorandum 16) that will be used for reappointment decisions. Satisfactory progress toward the degree includes such things as continuing enrollment in the program; satisfactory completion of course work in a graduate program at a reasonable rate; a cumulative grade point average competitive in the program and, in any case, not less than the Graduate School minimum of 3.0; satisfactory and timely completion of examinations in the graduate program; and steady and substantial progress toward completion of a thesis, dissertation, or terminal project. Appointees should be evaluated at least annually (see Graduate School Memorandum 16) and given written feedback about how they meet the department's satisfactory progress standards for reappointment.

      b) Performance of TA/RA/SA Duties—Graduate appointees should be evaluated and given feedback on a regular basis about performance of their duties as specified in the offer letter for their appointment. Each department will be responsible for implementing a program of evaluation, which allows for student response, to be conducted at least annually. Evaluation of the performance of teaching duties (such as holding office hours, reviewing test or paper scores with students, work in disciplinary study centers, tutoring, conducting labs, leading discussions, commenting on studio work, lecturing) may be based on procedures for instructional evaluation provided by the Office of Educational Assessment or those developed within the department. For TAs assigned to labs, studios, study centers, quiz sections, and teaching their own courses, at least one observation by faculty with feedback to the student is required during each of the first two quarters of teaching at the UW (Graduate School Memorandum 14); observation by faculty and regular feedback is recommended for teaching assistants at any level. Evaluation of the performance of research or staff assistant duties as specified in the letter offering the appointment should be handled according to departmentally published policies of performance standards and assessment methods. Evaluations of the student appointee's performance should be part of the basis for the reappointment consideration and should be available for review and response by the student.

      c) Availability of Positions—Appointing units should publish information concerning the availability of graduate assistantships in the unit. Policies should include information about budgetary support for appointments; intended distribution of appointments between initial appointments and reappointments; and conditions for reappointment.

    Graduate research, teaching, and staff assistant appointments for entering graduate students are normally made as part of the admissions process and are covered by the rules governing offers of admission. Appointments should be offered at least two weeks prior to the suggested date of acceptance, bearing in mind the fact that the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants allows a prospective recipient until April 15 to accept an appointment. After April 15, students who have already accepted an appointment must be given a written release from that appointment before accepting another appointment.

Appointing units should announce the availability of reappointments and/or new graduate teaching, research, and staff appointments for continuing students for the coming academic year in a timely fashion and in a manner that ensures that all graduate students will be aware of the opportunities. Announcements should make clear the nature of the positions being offered, the criteria for selection, the procedure for applying, the deadline for applications, and the date by which appointments will be announced. Departments should establish procedures for selecting qualified alternates as needed. Graduate appointments that become available throughout the year should be publicized in a similar manner.

After departmental review of applications has taken place, the selected applicants should be provided with written offers of appointment, which should include information about the duration of the appointment, the rate of pay and benefits, opportunities for promotion, and the duties and expectations of the appointment. Copies of this Executive Order No. 28 concerning graduate appointments, of departmental policies governing graduate appointments, and of the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees, and Assistants should accompany each offer of an initial appointment. Offers of reappointment should refer to the location of these documents on the Graduate School's web site.

A list of graduate students holding appointments shall be publicly available in the department.

  C. Promotion

Eligible students who perform meritoriously in their graduate programs and in their teaching, research, and related activities may normally expect to be promoted in the course of their service. Departments will establish a consistent promotion policy which takes into account: (1) the appointee's academic achievement and progress toward the degree; (2) the appointee's graduate classification; and (3) the appointee's accomplishments in teaching, research, and related activities. The policy will include the provision that regularly, at least at the time of reappointment, graduate students shall be considered for promotion to appropriate higher ranks.

  D. Termination of Appointments

Graduate appointments cease at the end of a designated period of appointment. However, in the event that a graduate appointee becomes ineligible for continued appointment through unsatisfactory progress toward the completion of the degree, the department may terminate the appointment at any time. If appointees fail to maintain the minimum required credit hours per quarter, or fail to continue registration as a graduate student, they are not eligible to continue to hold an appointment.

Departments should publicize criteria that indicate when performance may be judged to be unsatisfactory. If, in the opinion of the department, an appointee is performing unsatisfactorily in the duties of the appointment, the appointment may be terminated at any time. Normally, prior to terminating an appointee for cause, the department should take the following steps to which students should have the opportunity to respond:

    1) Inform the student (in writing) of student's performance inadequacies;

    2) Provide suggestions (in writing) for improvement and a timeline for addressing these suggestions;

    3) Offer assistance and/or mentoring, if possible, suggesting (in writing) resources to aid the student's improvement;

    4) Consult with college dean or school director, if appropriate;

    5) If no improvement takes place by the time allowed in Subsection 2.D.2 above, the department should provide a written notification that the appointment will be terminated, with a stated effective date.

    In the event of termination, appropriate notification shall be provided to the Dean of the Graduate School. If the causes for complaint are immediate (e.g. non-performance of duties, activities that endanger others, etc.), the chair may act to terminate the graduate appointee immediately. Appointees who wish to appeal an appointment termination will use the procedure described in Section 5.

3.  Training, Supervision, and Activities of Appointees

  A. Orientation, Training, and Guidance for New Appointees

New teaching assistants are expected to attend the Graduate School's New TA Orientation at the beginning of the academic year in which they hold their first TA appointment at the UW. New international teaching assistants are required to attend the International TA Program's Pre-Autumn Workshop and to participate in the activities of the International TA Program throughout their first two quarters of appointment (see Graduate School Memorandum 15). It is expected that discipline-specific training will be provided for teaching assistants by their departments or by groups of related departments.

Teaching appointees who will be aiding faculty in the conduct of a particular course should be informed about their responsibilities well in advance of the beginning of the appointment. It is the responsibility of supervising faculty to make clear what is expected both of the student and the faculty member in this relationship, to explain what constitutes satisfactory performance of TA duties, and to provide adequate written feedback to the appointee about his or her work.

Similarly, research and staff appointees should be kept informed as to the expectations for their activities and the nature of satisfactory performance of duties.

Departments are responsible for ongoing feedback and appropriate observation. In addition to student evaluations, written feedback from supervisors concerning performance of duties is essential. During the first two quarters of appointments involving student contact, Graduate School Memorandum 14 requires feedback for new teaching assistants from their supervisors.

Beginning research assistants will also be provided with orientation and training by their departments and/or their laboratory leaders. This orientation should include (but not be limited to) information about how the research assistantship relates to the RA's degree program, how evaluative (verbal and written) feedback will be provided for the RA, how due process issues will be resolved, and how the RA's contributions to the project will be acknowledged. (See also Executive Orders No. 8, No. 24, No. 25, No. 26, No. 34, No. 53, and No. 61.) It is important that open and frequent communication be maintained between research assistants and their supervising faculty to ensure the success of the research project and the success of the research assistantship as a positive experience that enhances the student's graduate education.

  B. Titles and Activities of Appointees

    1) General Principles

Units should publish clear policies and guidelines for making such appointments and maintain them on departmental websites. The following general principles should be considered in these unit-based guidelines.

      a) Appointments should be made in a manner that encourages appointees to develop a high quality of performance in teaching and research;

      b) In general, appointees who have the same duties and the same status in the graduate program should all receive the same compensation;

      c) Appointments should be made in a manner that does not exploit students;

      d) Appointees should be promoted on the basis of advancement in the graduate program or increased responsibilities (or both), as appropriate;

      e) Appointments should be appropriate to the title assigned (teaching, research, staff).

    2) Titles and Typical Activities

      a) Teaching Categories

  • Teaching Assistants—Appointees in this category normally lead quiz, discussion, or laboratory sections; serve as class assistants; or provide supervised teaching. Faculty or other academic personnel should provide appropriate guidance and feedback, particularly in cases where appointees are filling new roles and engaging in activities that are new to them. Appointees at this level are often pre-master's students.

  • Predoctoral Teaching Associates I and II—Appointees in this category often take on greater independence in the teaching of courses. Guidance and feedback provided by faculty takes into account the appointees' more advanced stages of development. Appointees at this level are often post-master's students or Ph.D. candidates.

  • Predoctoral Lecturer—Appointments at this level are ordinarily given only to predoctoral students who have held teaching appointments at the rank of Assistant Professor or higher in colleges or universities other than the University of Washington or who have achieved a comparable level of maturity through other experience. Because of their experience, appointees at this level normally work independently.

      b) Research Categories—Research Assistants, Predoctoral Research Associates I and II—Appointees in these categories engage in research by assisting faculty or other research staff in carrying out their specified research projects. Appropriate activities may also include independent research under the guidance of a faculty member. Appointees normally advance through these categories based on academic progress and experience.

      c) Staff Categories—Graduate Staff Assistants, Predoctoral Staff Associates I and II—Activities of these appointees normally complement formal academic training, and/or research and teaching activities. Appointees may engage in such activities as student advising, institutional research, museum or art gallery assistance, university administration, and the like. Appointees normally advance through these categories based on academic progress and experience.

  C. Conditions of Appointment

    1) Appointment Periods and Percent of Time

The standard quarterly graduate appointment is at 50% (an average of 20 hours per week) for at least five out of six quarterly pay periods in the UW payroll system. Annual appointments normally begin September 16 and end June 15. Quarterly appointments are effective September 16 to December 15 (Autumn Quarter), December 16 to March 15 (Winter Quarter), March 16 to June 15 (Spring Quarter). Summer Quarter appointments are described in Section 6.

    2) Salaries and Tuition

Salaries for graduate student service appointees are approved by the Provost and the Board of Regents.

Appointees holding appointments during the academic year at 50% or more for at least five out of six pay periods per quarter and who maintain registration at ten credits are eligible for a waiver of the resident operating fee and the technology fee. Non-resident students who are eligible for these waivers are also treated as state residents for tuition purposes. The student is responsible for the remainder of tuition (building fee, services and activities fee). These conditions do not apply for students whose appointments are less than 50% or less than five out of six pay periods. See Section 6 for procedures during Summer Quarter.

    3) Health Insurance

Appointees holding appointments during the academic year at 50% or more for at least five out of six pay periods per quarter and who maintain registration at ten credits, and their dependents, are eligible to receive paid health insurance coverage on the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan. Information about the Plan is available on the Benefits Office website.

    4) Vacation, Sick Leave, and Designated University Holidays

Graduate appointments do not provide for paid vacation or sick leave. Appointees should not be required to make up time for designated University holidays and periods when the University is closed for business.

    5) Faculty Status

Graduate appointees do not have faculty status.

4.  Procedures for Petition

A student who desires to hold a graduate student appointment under conditions different from those described in this executive order should address a petition to the chair or administrator of the graduate unit explaining what is desired, what are the exceptional circumstances, and why departure is desirable from the point of view of progress toward his or her degree. The petition is reviewed by the faculty graduate program coordinator who may deny the petition or recommend approval to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean of the Graduate School shall approve or deny the petition.

5.  Procedure for Appeal of Grievance or Complaint

Graduate appointees have the right to a fair hearing of any complaint that may arise out of an interpretation or application of this executive order. Appointees who wish to file such appeals should follow the procedures found in Graduate School Memorandum 33, "Academic Grievance Procedure."

6.  Provisions for Summer Quarter

  A. General Description

During the Summer Quarter, as is the case during the rest of the academic year, graduate student appointees are expected to make satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree programs. However, in recognition of the fact that there are significant differences between Summer Quarter and the other quarters of the academic year, and that available resources, activities, and needs vary considerably by discipline, the policies and procedures covering graduate student appointments and registration during Summer Quarter have been modified as described below. In all other respects, the provisions of Executive Order No. 28 apply during Summer Quarter.

  B. Policies and Procedures

    1) Summer appointments may be more variable, with respect to the duration and percent of time of the appointment, than appointments during the regular academic year.

    2) Graduate students appointed for the Summer Quarter (June 16—September 15) must be appointed for at least two consecutive pay periods and be registered for at least two credits in either Summer Quarter term.

    3) As in other quarters of the academic year, graduate students who are On Leave or are not registered during Summer Quarter are not eligible to hold graduate student service appointments during Summer Quarter. As in other quarters, failure to meet the registration requirements as set forth above may be grounds for withdrawal of a graduate student's appointment.

February 1, 1973; April 1975; January 16, 1978; June 25, 1979; October 1, 1982; October 3, 1983; July 1, 1986; June 5, 1987; July 1, 2001; January 14, 2003.

For related information, see:

  • Executive Order No. 25, "Allocation of Institutional Allowances Associated with Graduate Fellowships"
  • Executive Order No. 26, "Internal Support of Graduate Study and Research"
  • Executive Order No. 30, "Graduate Student Fellowship and Traineeship Awards"