Research Policy Handbook


Academic Staff Appeal Procedure

Policy Authority

University Provost



Policy Contact

Now in Policy Details

This Academic Staff Appeal Procedure replaces the Grievance Procedure for the Academic Staff of Stanford University (formerly section 8.2 of the Faculty Handbook) and the Grievance Procedure: Academic Staff in Research Policy Handbook 10.2, and their associated Standing Rules.



Definitions and Standards 


An appeal is a written request for review of a decision made by a person (or group of persons) acting in an official University capacity. The decision must have directly affected the academic activities of the appellant as an individual. Dissatisfaction with a departmental, school, or University policy or practice is not grounds for appeal. This appeal procedure may be used by any member of the Academic Staff, as defined in Section 1.2.11 of the Academic Staff-Teaching and Other Teaching Staff Handbook and in Research Policy Handbook 10.1, with the following exception: it shall not be used by members of the Academic Staff-Libraries – who have their own grievance and appeal procedure.


The purpose of the appeal process is to determine whether appropriate procedures were followed in making certain kinds of academic decisions, rather than to reevaluate the merits of the decisions themselves. The standard for deciding the appeal shall be limited to determining whether there were procedural errors (such as the failure to bring proper facts and criteria to bear on a decision, or the introduction of improper facts and criteria, or the existence of other procedural defects) that substantially affected the outcome to the detriment of the appellant. In rare cases, the reviewer may also overturn the decision if it was not one which a person (or persons) in the position of the decision-maker might reasonably have made.


Because these appeal procedures are not those of a court of law, it is important that they be carried out with flexibility and in an atmosphere of collegiality, and that the participants avoid an excessively legalistic approach. Efforts should be made to resolve the dispute informally before beginning the appeal process, and those efforts may continue even after the process is underway.


The appellant should file their appeal within 60 days of being notified of the decision. An unreasonable delay in filing an appeal may constitute grounds for rejection of the appeal.



Appeal Procedures 


An Academic Staff member who wishes to appeal a decision made below the decanal level may file a written appeal with the dean of the relevant school.  For Academic Staff members in programs or entities outside of a school (such as in the PWR program under the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education) or in independent research units under the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, the relevant Vice Provost will play the role of the dean.


After making a preliminary review of the matter, which may include consultations with whomever the dean deems appropriate, the dean may grant or deny the appeal or take any action that the dean deems appropriate. Alternatively, the dean may remand the matter to a lower administrative level, and/or appoint a Fact-Finder who will investigate the matter and report back to the dean. The dean may then grant or deny the appeal or take any action that the dean deems appropriate. The dean will inform the appellant of their decision. Unless the appellant seeks further review as described below, the decision of the dean is final.


Upon receipt of the dean’s decision, the appellant may within 30 days request a further review by the Provost. The Provost may make any inquiries that the Provost deems appropriate. Following examination of the case, the Provost may grant or deny the appeal or take any action that the Provost deems appropriate. The Provost’s decision will be conveyed to the appellant and is final.


An Academic Staff member wishing to appeal a decision made by the Provost or President (other than on further review) may file a written appeal with the President, who will perform the functions assigned to the dean in Section 2.1. At the end of the process, the President’s decision will be conveyed to the appellant and is final.



General Provisions 


Time Guidelines

Because it is important for all concerned that appeals be resolved expeditiously, the dean, Provost, and President should attempt to follow these guidelines: within 30 days from the receipt of the appeal, the dean should inform the appellant about the procedures to be used in their case. The dean should seek to decide the case within 60 days from receipt of the appeal (or, in the case of an appeal of a reappointment or promotion decision within 60 days of receipt of the relevant documentation), and the Provost (and in rare cases the President) should seek to make their final determination within 60 days from receipt of the appellant’s request for further review. The application of these guidelines to a particular case may be modified by the dean, Provost, or President at their discretion. If such modifications become necessary, the appellant will be informed of the delay.



1.  Any material that has been solicited or received with the understanding that it would be kept in confidence must not be revealed in the appeal process to any person, including the appellant, who was not a party to the confidential material. The material may, however, be examined by individuals who have been consulted by the dean, Provost, or President as part of the appeal process, and who will in turn maintain its confidentiality.

2.  Because it concerns individual personnel matters, the appeal process is not a public proceeding.



The appellant, the person(s) whose decision is being appealed, and anyone else called to provide information on the appeal, may be accompanied by an advisor to any discussion with the dean, Provost, or President or with their delegate. The advisor’s role is to advise the relevant party; the advisor, therefore, may not directly address those considering the appeal. Advisors must be members of the Stanford University Academic Staff or Professoriate.



The dean, Provost or President may select an individual to gather information about the appeal. The Fact-Finder is not an advocate for either the decision-maker or the appellant. The Fact- Finder’s role is to answer clearly defined questions and to report on unexpected aspects of the case. The Fact-Finder is not to make formal recommendations about how the case should be resolved.



Inquiries about these procedures should be directed to the Provost’s office.