College of Arts and Sciences

Dealing with Complaints

Student misconduct

Familiarize yourself with the Office of Student Conduct website.  It contains all the policies, procedures, and forms for handling student misconduct.  It is also highly recommended that you invite the associate dean of students to a departmental meeting.  Don't make up your own rules; follow the Office of Student Conduct procedures.  This will save you a world of trouble.

Office of Student Conduct functions and responsibilities

The Office of Student Conduct administers the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and other student policies, including academic dishonesty, classroom disruptive behavior, peer-to-peer sexual harassment, sexual assault, and student organizations. Our responsibilities include investigating complaints filed against students, referring students for academic and personal counseling services, administrative adjudication of cases, and monitoring student completion of sanctions. We provide student ethical programming addressing issues of academic integrity, civility, and dispute resolution.  Go to  for complete information.

Student grade appeals

Faculty conflict

Dealing with faculty collegiality problems can be one of the biggest challenges a department chair faces.  In departments of all sizes there can be factions within the faculty, or deep-seated personality conflict between two faculty members, or a faculty member who gets by without doing his/her share—usually being so grumpy nobody wants to ask him/her to do anything.  If these types of problems are not addressed, they can have long-term, negative impacts on your department's productivity and just generally make the workplace unpleasant. 

What should you do?

  • Don't go it alone.  If the problem is too sensitive to discuss with senior members of your department (or if they are part of the problem), ask a trusted fellow chair for advice.  Meet with the dean or an associate dean.  They were department chairs before they landed in the dean's office and they are always willing to lend an ear.
  • Read Chapters 8-11 of Jeffrey Buller's The Essential Department Chair.  Dr. Buller provides very concrete suggestions for dealing with faculty conflict. The dean's office will lend you a copy.  We'd even be happy to buy you a copy! 
  • Be aware of the Faculty Ombudsperson.  /facres/pdfs/faculty_ombudsperson.pdf

Staff conflict

If you have staff members who are not working well together, you are not the only one who has noticed.  The entire department suffers.  Staff conflict is only slightly less miserable than faculty conflict and it hits you in the face every time you go to the office.

What should you do?

  • Don't jump to conclusions. Investigate gently. Get all sides of the story.
  • Bring the parties together and discuss workplace expectations.  They do not have to like one another but they must be civil in the workplace.  Don't take it for granted that everyone has the same idea of what civility means.
  • Review job duties and clarify as needed.  The smallest confusion over who is responsible for what can lead to major conflict.
  • Make sure you are distributing work loads appropriately. Is it possible that you are dumping extra work on a good-natured employee and avoiding interaction with a surly or incompetent one? 
  • If you have tried all of the above and still not made significant headway, contact the HR Employment Engagement manager and ask for a consult. Or contact the dean's office.  We've probably had a similar problem.

Sexual harassment

If you have not already taken the university's sexual harassment training, please do so now.  All university employees are required to take the training.  Go to the affirmative action training webpage:

Part II: Management Issues

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Last Updated: 1/14/13