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Office of Student Research Administration: Capstone Committee Process

Research Capstone Committee Resignation Process & Forms

Research Committee Resignation Request

Purpose: This new policy is to provide a standard university-wide process through which a committee member or chair can voluntarily request release from service on a dissertation or doctoral study committee. Turnover in the membership of research capstone committees creates delays in student progress contributing to reduced student satisfaction and increased attrition. Therefore, faculty are encouraged to work closely and cooperatively with their program directors to minimize the need for replacing student committees members. When a faculty member still wants to be released from his or her duties as a committee member or chair on a dissertation or doctoral study committee after initial conversations with their program director, the following process is used:

1. The faculty member completes the Committee Chair or Member Resignation Request form located on the Research Center website and forwards it to the program director or his or her designee along with any supporting documents, including the following:

  • Dated e-mails to and from student regarding progress and feedback provided to the student.
  • Copies of student documents with pertinent information highlighted or annotated.
  • Faculty member provides reviews and any feedback on student drafts/documents, including rubrics, University Research Review (URR) feedback, and Turnitin reports, if available.

2. The program director or designee reviews the request and accompanying documentation and communicates with the faculty member to fully understand the situation.

3. The program director or designee approves or rejects the committee resignation and informs the faculty member of the decision.

4. If the program director or designee approves the resignation, the following steps are taken:

a. The faculty member provides the program director with the latest draft of the student’s work or prospectus so that a new committee member may be matched to the student. The faculty member will provide this information to the program director/ designee within 3 calendar days of receiving approval for resignation.

b. Within 3 calendar days of approving the resignation, the program director or designee will send a joint notification e-mail to the Office of Student Research Administration, the appropriate college office, the specialization coordinator (in the Ed.D. program only), all committee members (i.e., chair, member, and URR), and the advising team that serves the student’s degree program. The program director or designee will also notify the student at this time.

c. Within 14 days of the granting of approval, the program director or designee will consult with the student about possible replacements. After consulting with the student, the program director or designee appoints a replacement committee member and orients him or her to the program’s expectations. For example, the new committee member is expected to honor the progress the student made with the endorsement of the previous member, provided the work meets university standards as expressed on the doctoral rubric. Assignment of a new mentor will occur within 30 days of the resignation to approval; a shorter timeframe may be required to meet deadlines for student enrollment in the next term.

d. The program director or designee notifies the student of the new committee member and provides the student with a program-specific action plan to help the student facilitate the change in committee membership and maintain his or her progress, including directing the student to any resources the program has available for support.


While the program director or designee retains discretion when deciding the merit of the faculty member’s rationale for the request, the following factors may contribute to the request being approved:

  • Multiple efforts to work with the student resulted in no response from the student.
  • The student refused to make stylistic/content changes after the faculty member made at least three clear attempts to communicate the changes needed.
  • The student became confrontational, inappropriate, or abusive with the faculty member.
  • The faculty member believes the student needs other content or methodology support—and he or she can make the case for this belief.
  • The faculty member plans to resign or retire from the university within one calendar year, and the student’s progress will not allow completion within that timeframe.
  • The faculty member is experiencing life events that limit his or her ability to serve the student adequately.

Policies Regarding Committee Resignation

Policies Regarding Committee Resignation

Without sufficient compelling reasons, a faculty member’s withdrawal from a research committee may jeopardize future committee assignments or continued employment at Walden University, at the College’s discretion.

Walden contributing faculty members are contracted to serve on committees for a semester/quarter period. Therefore, the Walden University policy for contributing faculty members is that if they resign from their committee assignment without program director approval, they may be released from all Walden service.  

The reassignment of a committee chair may take place only between the end of one term and the end of the add/drop window of the next term. The following are the only exceptions to this policy:

  • If the faculty member resigns from the university.
  • If the faculty member is incapacitated.

In some instances, the university may require reassignment of a faculty member. This may occur if there are documented performance issues by the faculty member or if the faculty member has failed to improve performance as part of a performance improvement plan. Associate Dean review and approval is required in these instances.