Brief Description of Services Offered
Tarleton State University’s commitment to providing excellence in higher education for the citizens of Texas is clearly expressed in its mission statement. Tarleton’s allegiance to its primary customer, the student, manifests itself in the vigor with which Tarleton faculty and staff strive each day to operate in fidelity to its institutional purpose. The mission statement and goals may be referenced in the university’s strategic plan.
Statement of Tarleton’s customer service principles, goals, objective. and standards for wait time complaint handling, and other related university functions.
In order to ensure that the Tarleton of reality matches the Tarleton described in its planning documents, a comprehensive system of assessment is in place. This system includes quantitative as well as qualitative methodologies. The results of all University departmental/programmatic assessments are available to the public either in hard copy on campus or via Tarleton’s web site.
One way Tarleton assesses and indeed perpetuates its effectiveness is by providing students with the means to express concerns and complaints about their experience at the University. This provision is university-wide via: Academic Affairs, Enrollment and Information Management, Student Affairs, Finance and Administration, Institutional Advancement, Tarleton-Central Texas, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Customer Service Representative.
Tarleton’s overriding customer service goal is to create a culture of excellence for its students. This goal is reflected in, among other things, how the university deals with student concerns and complaints. Expediting complaint resolution in a timely manner is a high priority for Tarleton. The timeliness and effectiveness with which complaints are addressed is considered a measure of institutional effectiveness and it figures prominently in the performance evaluations of all Tarleton employees.
(Standards for wait times are addressed in the next section. How complaints are handled is also addressed in the next section.)
The process within which customers receive information and file complaints.
Students with concerns about a class or their academic experience in general are encouraged to visit with the appropriate faculty member. In the absence of satisfaction during this interaction, students may opt to take their concern up the administrative hierarchy, progressing to the department head, the dean, and then, if need be, to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). If issues or complaints that come to the dean have by-passed the department head and/or the faculty involved, the dean will refer the case to the department head, where it may be addressed or it may then be referred to the individual faculty member(s). Tarleton’s philosophy is that most issues can and should be handled by those directly involved. There is a written grievance procedure in each academic department that is typically followed before a concern or complaint is referred to the dean of the college. If resolution cannot be achieved at the department or college level, it is then referred to the Provost and VPAA.
The time elapsed between the student’s request for a meeting with a faculty member and the meeting depends on the calendar of the student and the faculty member. Typically, meetings of this nature are held within no more than five working days after the meeting request. This timeframe generally holds true for meetings requested with the department head, the dean, and the Provost/VPAA. Responses may be transmitted orally or in writing, depending on the situation.
International Education: Questions about enrollment, the university, and require processes are responded to immediately. Responses rarely take longer than two days.
Evaluation and translation of international credentials are accomplished in two days and they are forwarded to the appropriate admissions office—undergraduate and graduate. In the case of graduate admission, all applicants, after being screened in the graduate office, are referred to the appropriate department head for a recommendation on admission status.
Library: Complaints usually pertain to disputes regarding book fines or the return of library materials. These complaints are addressed immediately, usually by the Circulation staff. If the complaint cannot be resolved by the Circulation staff, the student is offered an appointment with the Director of the Library. If the student is still dissatisfied after meeting with the Director, he/she may meet with the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. Typically, a student who wishes to meet with the Director or the Provost may do so within no more than two to three working days of submission of the request. Responses may be transmitted orally or in writing, depending on the situation.
The Library conducts a series of user surveys routinely through the academic year. The results of these surveys are used in continuous improvement of Library service and customer support.
Enrollment and Information Management
Enrollment Management/School Relations: After an off-campus recruiting effort, prospective students submitting inquiry cards receive responses within an average of two weeks depending on the student’s classification. Names and addresses of prospective students are given to appropriate department heads who are encouraged to send materials to prospective students based on majors. The school relations office follows up with a designated communication plan to all prospective students throughout the academic year.
Enrollment Management/Undergraduate Admissions: Applications are screened and those with completed documentation are contacted by letter within two weeks. For those applicants who are eligible for admission, but are lacking some documentation, a student file is created and a letter is sent to the student with a request for the missing documentation. This is done within two weeks after initial contact.
Applicants not meeting the automatic admission requirements may request individual review of the application by submitting additional documentation as directed by the office of undergraduate admissions. Applicants who do not meet entrance requirements are sent a letter of denial. Applicants who are denied admission and choose to appeal the denial can do so by directing appeal requests to the Vice President of Enrollment Management, who acts as chair of the Academic Standards Committee. Decisions are made on appeal requests within two weeks of submission of all necessary documentation.
Other contacts such as complaints or inquiries are handled immediately and no later than two days after receipt.
Enrollment Management/Registrar: There are multiple processes for dealing with complaints and issues within the office of the Registrar; some are very situation specific. Generally, any question or complaint is handled immediately by qualified personnel who have clearance to resolve the issue. If additional input is needed before the issue can be addressed, i.e. Provost/VPAA or college/departmental collaboration, it may be the next day before satisfaction can be achieved.
College of Graduate Studies: Questions, clarifications and complaints are handled immediately. Resolution typically takes no longer than two days.
Applications for admission are evaluated by the Graduate Office. The Graduate Office typically evaluates admission packets within seven working days of receipt. When graduate applicants who meet the admission criteria submit to the College complete applications, all test scores, and official transcripts, their files are forwarded to the appropriate department heads/advisors for their recommendation on admission to the specific degree program.
Students are mailed a letter with specific information on their admission status. If the admission is conditional admission, a detailed description of the leveling work that will be necessary for full admission is included. Students admitted provisionally (undergraduates within 12 hrs. of graduation) are so notified by letter with any qualifiers specifically noted. Post-baccalaureate students receive specific notification about their status and any qualifying conditions. Applicants who do not meet the standards for admission are notified by letter.
Student Disability Service Office: Requests for assistance for academic or physical accommodations are regularly handled in no more than two weeks following receipt of appropriate documentation. After a student request, letters are sent to the appropriate faculty member requesting accommodations for the specific student according to their documented needs. Students are encouraged to make personal appointments with their professors to discuss processes if needed. A complaint issue may take longer especially if the issue require that a request be heard by a committee. The compliance officer is also assigned to the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs as an Associate Vice President; therefore, most issues can be resolved with the compliance officer acting in a facilitator role. The entire process may take two to three weeks depending on the schedules of those involved.
Financial Aid Appeals: A student wishing to appeal a decision by the Office of Financial Aid regarding the denial of financial aid may do so by submitting a written appeal request to the Director of Financial Aid. The director then considers the request in light of university policy, federal regulations, and student circumstances and renders a decision within five working days of submission of the appeal request.
Should the student not agree with the decision of the director, he/she may submit a request, in writing, to have his/her case heard by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. The student receives notification of the Appeals Committee’s decision within ten (10) working days of submission of the appeals request. Finally, a student may appeal the Committee’s decision by submitting a request for appeal to the Vice President of Enrollment Management. The Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management will notify the student of his/her decision within five working days. The Vice President of Enrollment Management’s decisions are considered final. At each point in the process, students are notified of decisions in writing.
There are several routes by which students can voice concerns or complaints, and/or appeal administrative decisions in the Division of Student Affairs. These routes include the administration of a variety of assessments division-wide, the availability of various administrative appeals processes, and the practice of an open-door policy by all division administrators.
Residential Living and Learning Appeals: A student wishing to appeal a Residential Living and Learning’s decision to deny him/her an exception with respect to living off campus may do so by submitting a written request to the Off-Campus Appeals committee (via Residential Living & Learning). The student may elect to make a personal presentation to the committee to supplement his/her written request. Parents/guardians may be present; however, they are unable to present information to the committee. The student receives notification of the Appeals Committee’s decision within seven to ten working days after the Appeals Committee has convened.
Should the student not agree with the decision of the Appeals Committee, he/she may submit a request, in writing, to have his/her case heard by the Director of Residential Living & Learning. The director then considers the request in light of University policy and student circumstances. The student receives notification of the director’s decision within five working days of submission of the written request. Finally, a student may appeal the Director for Residential Living & Learning’s decision by submitting a request for appeal to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs. The Associate Vice President for Student Affairs will notify the student of his/her decision within five working days. The Associate Vice President for Student Affair’s decision is final. At each point in the process, students are notified of decisions in writing.
Vice President for Student Affairs and other Division Administrators: Division leadership takes student concerns and complaints very seriously. They respond, on average, within one to two working days of concerns or complaints regarding their respective administrative units. Students are informed of their right to take their concern or complaint further up the administrative hierarchy if they so wish. Student complaints are carefully tracked as a means of assessing unit effectiveness. Students are notified of decisions/follow-up either orally or in writing, depending on the situation. More general formal complaints are dealt with by the Dean of Students. Complaints that do not fall under a particular committee’s jurisdiction and/or procedures outlined in the Student Handbook are forwarded by the Dean of Students to the appropriate academic or administrative office for review and response. Every effort is made to make initial contact with a complainant within ten (10) working days. Responses will include a university contact responsible for reviewing the complaint and, in cases when an immediate solution is not possible, the process and timeline for complaint review and resolution.
Assessment and Evaluation: Student Affairs is actively engaged in a system of departmental/divisional assessment that yields significant insight into the concerns and wishes of the student body. Student Affairs assesses the effectiveness of all of its departments on a rotating basis. Surveys run the gamut from the typical customer satisfaction survey, to a Quality of Life Survey; various student needs surveys, and a Health Risk Assessment Survey.
Finance and Administration
Students with concerns or complaints about the campus facilities, Business Office, Campus Police, Texan Card Operations, or Vending Operations are encouraged to visit with the appropriate administrator in the division of Finance and Administration. (Students with concerns or complaints regarding Residential Living and Learning and Barry B. Thompson Student Center facilities and/or grounds are referred to the Director of Residential Living and Learning and to the Director of the Barry B. Thompson Student Center, respectively.) In the absence of satisfaction during this interaction, students may opt to take their concern through the administrative hierarchy, progressing to the appropriate administrative level, then, if need be, to the Vice President for Finance and Administration.
The time elapsed between the request for a meeting with an administrator and the meeting is typically within no more than two to three working days after the meeting request. This timeframe generally holds true for meetings requested with the Vice President for Finance and Administration. Responses may be transmitted orally or in writing, depending on the situation.
Parking Fine Appeals: All parking appeals must be submitted in writing, following an established procedure. The Parking Appeals Committee is chaired by a representative from Student Affairs and is comprised of one student, one staff, and one faculty member. A member of the University Police serves as ex-officio. Usually, no more than five to seven working days elapse between the request for an appeal and notification of the Appeals Committee’s decision. Students are notified of the Committee’s decision in writing.
Students with concerns or complaints regarding departments within Institutional Advancement are encouraged to communicate with the appropriate administrator. As in the case of the other university divisions, students have the option of progressing up the administrative hierarchy in the event they are dissatisfied with the service received at a lower level. Requests for meetings with administrators are generally honored within five working days.
Office of the President
The Office of the President is usually the final step in the complaint registration process. When students bring complaints to the attention of the president before having expressed those complaints at a lower administrative level, it is generally the policy of the Office of President to refer those students to the individual or office responsible for dealing with the issues about which the student is complaining.
Sometimes the president deems it appropriate to respond to the complaint personally. In those cases, the Office of President notifies the appropriate university official of the details of the complaint, his response to the complaint, and any other response that may need to be made by that official or his/her designee.