II. Standard 1: Mission, Governance and Administration

During the visit, the college will provide the following in the workroom:

  • unit reports on curriculum, educational policy, meeting minutes, etc.
  • files related to searches and hiring decisions regarding administrators
  • files related to concerns and complaints expressed by faculty, staff or students
  • a faculty policy manual, handbook or other document specifying the roles of faculty in governance and the development of educational policy
  • copy of the strategic plan

Executive summary:

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications is an integral part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which is among the four universities within the University of Nebraska System. The college operates with a major-based organizational structure that fosters collaboration across disciplines and active faculty involvement, promoting interdisciplinary education and engagement.

Throughout the current accrediting cycle, the college has experienced notable administrative changes, including transitions in university leadership with multiple presidents, chancellors, and executive vice chancellors, as well as an evolution in its internal structure over the past seven years.

During the previous accrediting visit, Dean Maria Marron led the college and appointed Associate Deans Mary Kay Quinlan and Frauke Hachtmann to oversee faculty, academic programs and specific disciplines. Following Marron's return to faculty, Amy Struthers served as the interim dean until July 2020. Mary Kay Quinlan became the sole associate dean responsible for overseeing academic programs, faculty affairs, advising and career services.

Two people stand in front of building
Amy Struthers (left) and Shari Veil pose in front of Andersen Hall during the leadership transition in the spring of 2020.

Dean Shari Veil assumed leadership of the college on July 1, 2020. Her role encompasses strategic planning, program development, financial management, fundraising and overall operational management. Under Veil's leadership, the college underwent a restructuring process that included the appointment of Adam Wagler as the associate dean for academic programs and Cory Armstrong as the associate dean for research and faculty affairs.

In August 2020, Dean Veil initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process involving faculty, staff, students and industry partners. Through task forces and extensive feedback, the college developed a plan to guide the college's direction for the next five years, which was unanimously approved by faculty and staff in May 2021.

The college updated its bylaws and policies during the 2021-22 academic year, which the faculty approved in March 2022. These documents support college operations under shared governance principles, with faculty and staff elected or appointed to 14 standing committees, and regular meetings to ensure faculty, staff and student input in decision-making processes. According to a 2023 climate survey, a high percentage of faculty, staff and student employees feel adequately informed about long-range plans and believe their opinions are represented in college decisions.

Revisions to the college’s bylaws and policies included outlining the appointment and evaluation process for administrators. Administrative evaluations were administered in 2022-2023 and provided feedback to each administrator, highlighting their strengths and areas for improvement. College administrators have also engaged in leadership development programs to enhance their skills and ensure strong and stable leadership for the unit.

The university and college have clear policies and procedures to address and resolve complaints and concerns from students, faculty and staff. College administrators manage complaints within their respective areas of responsibility, and the college maintains a confidential tracking system to identify and address repeated concerns.

Respond to each of the following instructions. (Boldface type on questions/directives. Use regular type on responses.)

1. Provide the web link to the unit’s mission statement.

The CoJMC Mission Statement is as follows: We nurture curious and creative minds to thrive in the ever-changing media and communication professions. Our inclusive “do from day one” experience is rooted in hard work, collaborative problem-solving and the ethical pursuit of truth to uphold democracy.

2. Describe the administrative structure of the unit, including to whom the unit administrator reports within the university. Include names and titles. The information should extend from the lowest level of administrative responsibility within the unit to the institution’s chief executive officer.

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications is one of nine academic colleges at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which in turn, is one of four universities that comprise the University of Nebraska System. The system is led by a President, currently Ted Carter, who reports to an elected Board of Regents. The Chief Executive Officer of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Campus, Chancellor Rodney Bennett, who started in July 2023, reports to the President. Reporting to the Chancellor are several vice chancellors, including Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Ankerson, to whom the dean of the college reports.

The college operates as a college and a unit, with no internal departments. Instead, faculty are organized around majors, each with an elected head, which breaks down silos and provides opportunities for faculty teaching across disciplines to engage in college life actively.

The university has undergone significant administrative change during the current accrediting cycle. Since 2017, the college has reported to three presidents, including Hank Bounds (2015-2019), Susan Fritz (interim, 2019) and Ted Carter (2019-present); two Chancellors, Ronnie Green (2017-2023) and Rodney Bennett (2023-present); and four executive vice chancellors, including Donde Plowman (2017-2019), Richard Moberly (interim, 2019-2020), Elizabeth Spiller (2020-2021) and Kathy Ankerson (2021-present).

Additionally, the internal college structure has evolved over the past seven years. During the last accrediting visit, the college was led by Dean Maria Marron. Marron appointed two associate deans, Mary Kay Quinlan and Frauke Hachtmann, to oversee the college’s faculty and academic programs. Their responsibilities were organized by disciplines, with Quinlan overseeing journalism and broadcasting, Hachtmann overseeing advertising and public relations and sharing oversight of sports media and communication. Hachtmann also oversaw the college’s recruiting, advising and career development services. Marron returned to the faculty in January 2018 and was succeeded by Amy Struthers, who served as interim dean until July 1, 2020. Hachtmann also returned to the faculty, leaving Mary Kay Quinlan as the sole associate dean overseeing the college academic programs, faculty affairs, academic advising and career services. Director of Business Operations Haley Hamel, who previously oversaw budget, finance, administration, communications, information technology and facilities, took on oversight of undergraduate student recruitment. Joe Weber was appointed director of graduate studies in the college with Jemalyn Griffin stepping in as acting director for a semester when Weber was on special appointment.

Dean Shari Veil assumed leadership of the college on July 1, 2020. She has a 100% administrative apportionment and oversees the strategic, programmatic, financial, fundraising, and management operations that support the mission and vision of the college. Veil restructured the administrative roles within the unit, dividing responsibilities among an associate dean for academic programs who oversees both undergraduate and graduate programs, an associate dean for research and faculty affairs and a director of business and operations, all of whom report to the dean.

Adam Wagler serves as the associate dean for academic programs. His apportionment is 60% administration, 25% teaching and 15% research. The position provides oversight of the college’s curriculum and assessment, course scheduling, teaching assignments and academic procedures. The college’s graduate assistants report to the associate dean for academic programs.

Cory Armstrong began in 2022 as the associate dean for research and faculty affairs. Her apportionment is 60% administration, 25% teaching and 15% research. The position oversees efforts that support and advance faculty development, serves as the college diversity officer and faculty procedures liaison and manages resources for research and creative activity in the college. The college’s full and part-time faculty report to the associate dean for research and faculty affairs.

Haley Hamel is a professional staff member serving as the director of business and operations. The position oversees all administrative and staff functions within the college, including budget and finance, communications, information technology, facilities, recruitment, career services and academic advising, in coordination with the associate dean for academic programs. All the college’s staff and student workers report to the director of business and operations.

Organizational Chart

Sharon Baldinelli has a distinct reporting structure, as she answers to Dean Shari Veil instead of Associate Dean Armstrong like the rest of the faculty, owing to her status as Armstrong's spouse.

3. Describe the unit’s process for strategic or long-range planning. Provide the web link to the unit’s written strategic or long-range plan. This plan should give the date of adoption/revision and any timeline for achieving stated goals. Discuss how the plan provides vision and direction for the unit’s future and how it has encouraged and contributed to quality and innovation in the unit. Describe who has responsibility for updating the plan and the process for monitoring its effectiveness in driving progress.

In August 2020, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications launched a strategic planning process to lay the groundwork for the future of the college. Faculty and staff met for the fall retreat to discuss the state of higher education and our industries, competition, university and college. We identified trends, gaps, opportunities, questions, concerns and insights on our environment. Faculty and staff were surveyed to determine our purpose, collective strengths, opportunities and aspirations.

Building on this foundation, 78 college stakeholders, including 48 faculty and staff, nine current students and 21 alumni and industry partners, were asked to engage in an expansive and inclusive strategic planning process. Stakeholders were assigned to seven task forces specific to mission, vision and values; external operations; people and internal operations; undergraduate academic operations; graduate academic operations; scholarship and creative activity; and student experiences and experiential learning. A review committee composed of alumni and emeritus faculty was established to provide feedback on the distinctive capabilities, strategies, action steps and measures drafted by each task force.

Over the next six months, the task forces presented draft plans and all committee members were invited to comment during the meetings and provide feedback anonymously online. Each iteration was also posted to the college website and shared through the alumni newsletter, encouraging alumni to provide comments and suggestions through the online feedback form. The review committee summarized the comments and feedback and recommended revisions to each task force with each iteration.

In April 2021, the task force co-chairs met to review each task force action plan and identify strategic aims that would direct the college for the next five years. These aims, dubbed “game changers,” embraced our distinctive capabilities, aligned with our values, drove our mission and would help us realize our vision.

The strategic planning committee co-chairs drafted a plan around the aims and in line with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln N2025 Strategic Plan. Aims were aligned with our value statements and targets were determined by the dean and director of business and operations. The plan was presented to the full strategic planning committee on May 7, 2021, and unanimously approved by the college faculty and staff on May 14, 2021.

One of the college’s standing committees is the strategic planning committee. Its main responsibility is to plan, review, assess and execute the college’s strategic plan. Dean Veil chairs the committee, which meets monthly during the academic year. As part of the annual reporting process created in 2020, each year the strategic plan metrics are assessed. Please review the strategic plan reports for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. Annual reports, which provide a narrative account of college accomplishments, are available for 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Cover of the 2020 Annual Report
Cover of the 2021 Annual Report
Cover of the 2022 Annual Report

4. Provide the web link to where the unit publishes its most recent retention and graduation data.

Our retention and graduation data can be found here.

5. Describe the unit’s policies and procedures for faculty governance. Provide in a digital format or make available in the site team workroom a print copy of faculty policy manuals, handbooks or other documents specifying policies, procedures, and the roles of faculty and students in governance and in development of educational policy and curriculum. (Note passages and pages specific to the directive.)


Polices and Procedures

UNL Faculty Governance

The college bylaws and policy/procedures were substantially updated during the 2021-22 academic year. The college faculty approved the revisions on March 11, 2022.

The College’s Bylaws (II.2) outline the shared governance principles under which the unit operates. Specifically, “the College of Journalism and Mass Communications is administered through a system of shared governance between the college administration and the college faculty. In developing policy and procedures and in administering the college, the administration and the faculty may consult with students, alumni of the college, and members of the mass communications industry, when appropriate.”

In practice, these principles are executed through the election and appointment of faculty and staff to standing committees, as noted in the policies and procedures (2.II and III). Elected major heads serve as members of the CoJMC Executive Committee, along with an elected staff member. Individuals, ad-hoc and standing committees can make proposals or motions to the executive committee and the full faculty for consideration. In addition, all college faculty agenda items for vote are shared in the Monday Morning Memo before the Friday faculty meeting, providing an opportunity for review before decision-making. Faculty meetings can be called by either the dean or by a majority of faculty members, via petition (See policies and procedures, 3.I.1 and 2). Voting procedures include faculty attending the meeting or those who follow the voting in abstentia policy (3.I.3.2).

The dean convenes executive committee, strategic planning committee and full College meetings monthly. She also regularly meets with the Experience Lab co-directors, faculty liaisons and CoJMC Student Advisory Board. She has monthly meetings with the associate deans and director of business and operations and holds open office hours each week for students, faculty and staff. As noted in #3 above, the college’s strategic plan included extensive input from faculty, students and external stakeholders before approval. The strategic planning committee ensures progress continues on plan initiatives. These regular interactions provide significant faculty, staff and student input into decision-making at CoJMC.

According to the college’s climate survey in 2023, results indicated that overwhelmingly faculty, staff and student employees (97.5%) feel leadership has adequately communicated long-range plans and strategic direction. Further, 93% feel their opinions are represented in decisions made within the college.

6. How often did the faculty meet during the most recent academic year?

Dean Veil schedules monthly faculty meetings during the academic year. During the 2022-23 academic year, the full faculty met nine times:

7. List faculty committees and chairs. List ad hoc committees in operation at the time of the self-study.

Standing Committees

The college has 14 standing committees based on the college bylaws. College committees meet monthly. All faculty and staff receive notes from all committee meetings through a weekly newsletter, the Monday Morning Memo.

Major Committees

Each of the college’s four undergraduate majors has a committee comprised of all faculty members teaching in the program. The major faculty elect a chair to oversee the committee and serve as their representative on the executive committee. The major committees develop policy and program proposals related to the curriculum and academic programs for consideration by the college’s undergraduate or graduate curriculum committees or the executive committee. The 2022-2023 chairs of the major committees were:

  • Advertising and Public Relations | Assistant Professor of Practice Jemalyn Griffin, chair
  • Broadcasting | Associate Professor Rick Alloway, chair
  • Journalism | Professor of Practice Matt Waite, chair
  • Sports Media and Communication | Associate Professor John Shrader, chair

Executive Committee | Dean Shari Veil, chair

The executive committee is advisory to the dean on the business and general welfare of the college and reviews feedback on proposals related to college operations. Proposals from other college committees go through the executive committee before being added to the faculty meeting agenda. Membership on the committee includes the dean (chair), associate dean for academic programs, associate dean for research and faculty affairs, director of business and operations, an elected faculty representative from each major and an elected member of the staff.

Staff Council | Director of Business and Operations Haley Hamel, chair

Staff Council works to enhance the work environment for current and future staff members, give voice to concerns, provide opportunities for professional development, networking and recognition and develop policies and procedures that benefit the college staff. The staff council comprises all current staff members and one appointed faculty representative.

The remaining college committees include appointed faculty and staff members. Faculty and staff indicate their committee preferences through a survey each spring. The dean then makes appointments based on these preferences with input and feedback from the executive committee to consider rank, position and major diversity. The college’s 2022-2023 standing committees were:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion | Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs Cory Armstrong, chair

The diversity, equity and inclusion committee administers programs and makes recommendations for ensuring diverse representation in the college’s faculty, staff and students; developing a culture of equity and inclusion; and ensuring issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are infused throughout our curriculum.

Graduate | Associate Dean for Academic Programs Adam Wagler, chair

The graduate committee is responsible for the quality of graduate education in journalism and mass communications and for assuring that the curriculum is rigorous enough to prepare students for advanced employment or further academic work in the discipline. The committee administers the college’s graduate admission process and awarding of graduate assistantships.

Research, Creative Activity and Awards | Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs Cory Armstrong, chair

The research, creative activity and awards committee fosters research and creative activity by the college faculty, oversees awards recognizing achievement and assists faculty in pursuing university and external awards.

Scholarship and Student Success | Associate Director of Advising Andrea Gaghagen, chair

The scholarship and student success committee administers the college's scholarship programs, internship awards and college-run student competitions and advises the faculty and dean on the quality of the student experience and ways to improve that experience.

Student Competitions | Assistant Professor of Practice Jill Martin, chair

The student competitions committee identifies and promotes external award programs that can elevate the reputation of student work and coordinates entries across the college’s academic programs.

Strategic Planning | Dean Shari Veil, chair

The strategic planning committee oversees the implementation of the college’s strategic plan and assesses the progress of the college toward achieving its goals.

Technology and Infrastructure | Director of Business and Operations Haley Hamel, chair

The technology and infrastructure committee monitors the technology and physical needs of the college’s academic programs and develops proposals, initiatives and programs to address needs.

Undergraduate Curriculum | Associate Dean for Academic Programs Adam Wagler, chair

The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee is responsible for ensuring that the courses and degree programs offered by the college meet standards of excellence as judged by the college faculty, the university curriculum committee and the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Ad Hoc Committees

The college had six ad-hoc committees in 2022-23. All six were search committees for the following positions:

  • Deepe Investigative Reporting search (2 positions) | Professor Maria Marron, chair
  • Assistant Professor of ADPR/Sports (2 positions) | Professor John Shrader, chair
  • Assistant Professor of Media Law | Professor Laurie Lee, chair
  • Assistant Professor of Practice in Media Production | Associate Professor Rick Alloway, chair
  • Alumni Relations and Events Coordinator | Assistant Professor of Practice Jemalyn Griffin, chair
  • Director of Advising | Associate Dean for Academic Programs Adam Wagler, chair

8. Describe the faculty’s contributions to the administration and governance of the university.

Faculty Member 

Faculty Governance Committees 


Rick Alloway 

Comprehensive Campaign, Special Institutional Assignment


Cory Armstrong

Grand Challenges Steering Committee


Jemalyn Griffin 

First Gen Nebraska Advisory Board


Frauke Hachtmann 

E.N. Thompson Forum Program Committee


Dane Kiambi 

Faculty Senate 


Maria Marron 

Graduate Council  


Maria Marron

Parking Appeals Committee


Maria Marron 

Academic/Grade Appeal Committee


Maria Marron

Academic Standards Committee


Barney McCoy 

Intercollegiate Athletics Committee


Barney McCoy 

Academic Rights & Responsibilities Special Grievance Committee


Barney McCoy 

Center for Transformative Teaching Advisory Board


John Shrader



John Shrader 

Faculty Senate 


John Shrader 

Chancellor's Commission on the Status of People of Color


John Shrader 

Student Conduct Board


Shari Veil 

E.N. Thompson Forum Program Committee


Shari Veil 

Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Steering Committee


Shari Veil 

Budget Model Advisory Committee


Bryan Wang 

Academic Standards Committee


Bryan Wang 

Research Council 


9. Describe the process for selecting, appointing and evaluating unit administrators.

CoJMC Bylaws (p. 2, sections II.4.1.5 and II.4.2.1) outline how the dean appoints unit administrators. The college policies and procedures (p. 1) outline the number and duties of the three CoJMC administrators—Dean, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and Associate Dean for Academic Programs.

The university follows detailed procedures for selecting, appointing and evaluating college deans, aimed at assuring that searches are wide-ranging and that they involve appropriate consultation with all relevant parties. Dean searches (2.6.1) are conducted by the senior vice chancellor for academic affairs using search committees that typically include faculty members, a staff member, a student representative and people from outside the university whose interests or professional standing are relevant to the search. Committee membership also must include gender and race/ethnicity representation.

The college’s procedure for appointing administrators rests mainly with the dean, in accordance with college bylaws (II.4.5). UNL offers guidelines that include creating a job description and advisory committee to offer input. Dean Veil appointed John Bender and Adam Wagler as interim associate deans in 2020. Wagler was provided a permanent appointment in 2022, while the current Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Cory Armstrong, was hired during the 2021-2022 academic year from outside the university. The procedures for faculty hiring were followed, with Professor Frauke Hachtmann serving as chair, and approval from the executive committee and executive vice chancellor’s office. Upon hire, tenured faculty voted to recommend tenure and promotion to full professor for Armstrong, who was a full professor at her previous institution.

The procedure for evaluating administrators in the college is outlined in the college bylaws (starting on p. 16), in coordination with UNL bylaws. The dean evaluates the two associate deans annually. A full review of the dean is typically completed every five years, as outlined by UNL Bylaws. Deans are also evaluated annually by the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, whose office solicits feedback from faculty, staff and others who regularly interact with the deans. The executive vice chancellor then meets individually with deans for annual reviews.

In addition, faculty and staff can provide anonymous feedback on the three college administrators, as noted in the college bylaws. This online survey mechanism was developed for the first time in Spring 2023 for the dean and associate deans. The raw data was shared with the executive committee, and the elected faculty from the four majors on the committee reviewed the feedback and wrote a summary, which was shared with individual administrators and their supervisors. Summaries of the 2023 administrator evaluations are available here.

Dean Evaluation

For Dean Shari Veil’s evaluation, 32 questions were posed to members of the college. Twenty-five people responded, though not all answered every question. Overall, responses were quite positive. On a Likert scale of one to five, where one is unacceptable, and five is excellent, the average score on each of the 32 questions was above four. The average of all 32 questions combined was 4.53.

Particularly high scores (4.75/5.0 and above) were assigned to the following questions:

  • Articulates and implements the vision and mission of the college: 4.88
  • Demonstrates a commitment to student learning: 4.80
  • Builds visibility for the college within the journalism and mass communication discipline: 4.92
  • Represents the college to the external community (e.g., donors, alumni, etc.): 4.96
  • Effectively communicates with external constituencies: 4.76
  • Exhibits decisiveness in executing strategic plans: 4.75
  • Represents the college to other UNL administrators: 4.87
  • Encourages and supports improvements derived from outcomes assessment results: 4.76

Lower scores (4.25/5.0 and below) were assigned to the following questions:

  • Fosters collaborative relationships with college staff: 4.25
  • Effectively and objectively resolves conflict: 4.18
  • Effectively builds faculty and staff morale: 4.04
  • Responsive to suggestions: 4.25

On the question of her overall performance as dean, respondent scores averaged 4.58 out of 5. Comments on her strengths included: “articulating a clear strategic plan,” “an innovator,” “focused,” “a go-getter,” “strong leadership and creative ideas,” “great networker” and “outstanding job on fundraising.” On the question of changes or adjustments, feedback included: “recognizing when people or resources are overstretched and adjusting plans,” “a clearer understanding of expectations,” “be more visible to our staff,” “advocate more on behalf of our staff,” “retention of PoPs,” and “personal thank you’s would show she sees and appreciates the work of her team.”

Dean Veil began attending college meetings in March 2020 as the college pivoted online and addressed budget challenges during the pandemic. She officially assumed the dean position in July 2020 and launched the college’s strategic planning process and comprehensive fundraising campaign. In 2022-2023, Dean Veil attended the Big 10 Academic Alliance Dean’s Leadership Training and the CASE Development for Deans and Academic Leaders. She has worked with the director of business and operations to plan a summer staff retreat and proposed to the executive committee a professional development fund for staff.

Associate Dean for Academic Programs Evaluation

Associate Dean Adam Wagler’s evaluations were also quite positive. There were 25 questions posed to members of the college that were on a Likert scale of one to five. In all, 20 people in the college responded, though not all answered every question. On a scale where one is unacceptable and five is excellent, the average scores on all 25 questions were all above four. On the key question of his overall performance, respondents gave him a 4.42 out of five. Feedback on his greatest strengths included: “results-oriented,” “thoughtful,” “easy to work with,” “open to new ideas,” “calm and yet focused,” “excellent communicator,” “good at seeing the full picture” and “can adapt quickly.” On the question of changes or adjustments, feedback included: “he could improve by better delineating things that need broad input and those things that just need to move forward” and that he needs to be more engaged in “facilitating meaningful/constructive discussion.”

Associate Dean Wagler was appointed as interim in the fall of 2020. He absorbed the role of director of graduate programs and a hiring waiver was received by the college to officially appoint him as Associate Dean for Academic Programs in spring 2022, following approval of the new college bylaws. In 2020-2021, Wagler participated in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Faculty Leadership in Academic: From Inspiration to Reality (FLAIR) program. In 2021-2022, he attended the Big 10 Academic Alliance Leadership Program. He attends major meetings when appropriate to ensure the full discussion of programmatic changes in the majors is considered by the curriculum and graduate committees.

Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs Evaluation

Associate Dean Cory Armstrong received mixed reviews in her evaluations. There were 26 questions posed to members of the college that were on a Likert scale of one to five. In all, 20 people in the college responded, though not all answered every question. On a scale where one is unacceptable and five is excellent, the average score on all 26 questions was 3.76. Some found Associate Dean Armstrong’s approach to be “direct,” while some mentioned the need for better interpersonal skills. Other comments included “good hire” and “met and exceeded the requirements.” On the key question of her overall performance, respondents gave her 3.79 out of five. Responses included “Cory’s direct approach is good for change, and we need change.” When asked what is needed most to improve performance, most of the respondents suggested that communication needs to be improved, both with staff and faculty. Several respondents were pleased with the assistance on research, while one wrote, “really try to value all different forms of research.”

Associate Dean Armstrong was hired through a national search in 2021-2022 and started as the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs in Fall 2022. She will attend the Big 10 Academic Alliance Leadership Program in 2023-2024 and has been selected for the two-year term as a Mellon Fellow and will participate in the Mellon Academic Leadership Program in 2023-2025. She has instituted monthly Faculty Innovation and Exploration seminars to focus on teaching, research and diversity and inclusion faculty development programming and is hosting workshops on preparing for tenure and promotion.

10. Describe the unit’s process for timely and equitable resolution of complaints and concerns expressed by faculty, staff or students.

When faculty, staff or students have complaints or concerns, they are expected, whenever possible, to attempt to resolve those concerns informally and in the most direct manner possible. When complaints or concerns cannot be resolved informally, the university has clearly defined procedures for dealing with such concerns to ensure due consideration for all parties involved. Those procedures are detailed in the UNL Faculty Handbook.

If the issues are related to discrimination or harassment, university personnel are directed to report the issue to the UNL Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, which manages any issues involving sexual misconduct, discrimination or gender identity. Specifically, under faculty governance, (, the university outlines procedures for managing conflicts between faculty and the university, through the UNL Faculty Senate’s Academic Rights and Responsibilities Committee. That committee is tasked with investigating or managing any issues between a faculty member and the university, particularly concerning professional conduct, tenure or academic freedom.

The college has an outlined grade appeal policy for students, outlined in the college procedures (p. 44).

H. Grade Appeals

Regents Bylaw 5.3 specifies that students have the right to appeal grades they consider the product of caprice or prejudice on the part of the instructor. The provision requires the college to have a process for resolving disputes about grades.

  1. Students first should talk to the instructor to seek a mutual understanding about the grade. If they are unable to agree, students may appeal the grade to the associate dean for academic programs. The associate dean may ask the instructor for information about the course, the grading policies, and how the appealing student’s grade was determined. The associate dean also may request information about the distribution of grades for other students in the class. Such information should be anonymized. The associate dean also may ask the student to explain the basis for believing the grade is the product of caprice or prejudice on the part of the instructor. Based on the evidence presented by the student and the instructor, the associate dean shall render a judgment. If the judgment is that the preponderance of the evidence shows the grade was the product of caprice or prejudice, the associate dean shall ask the instructor to change the grade.
  2. Either the student or the instructor may appeal an adverse decision by the associate dean for academic programs to the Executive Committee. The evidence the student and the instructor presented to the associate dean shall be forwarded to the committee. The committee may request additional information from either or both parties. The committee, at its discretion, may schedule a hearing at which the student and the instructor may present evidence and answer questions. The burden of proof in such disputes is on the student to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the grade was the product of caprice or prejudice on the part of the instructor. The decision of the committee shall be by majority vote. If the decision is that the grade was the product of caprice or prejudice by the instructor, it may order the grade to be changed. If the instructor refuses to change the grade, the associate dean shall administer the grade change.

Generally, the associate deans are tasked with managing conflict among faculty or students. The associate dean of academic programs manages grade appeals or student-related issues, consulting with other students, faculty, advisers or any other pertinent parties. The associate dean of research and faculty affairs manages other conflicts or complaints about faculty conduct and involves the dean or other parties, as necessary.

Complaints are typically reported through advisers, through student evaluations, email correspondence, telephone or in-person. For example, the dean and associate dean for research and faculty affairs review student evaluations during annual reviews for any issues of concern. Other complaints received are funneled to the appropriate administrator for action or review. When a complaint is received, the college has a centralized confidential tracking system to ensure that any repeated concerns are noted and acted upon, as needed. The system includes space for notes to provide context for future administrators and a place to include direct communication, such as email exchanges, regarding the incident.