Remote Work Guidelines for UNM Graduate Students Holding Assistantships

The purpose of the Remote Work Guidelines for Graduate Assistantship Holders is to provide the University of New Mexico, including the Albuquerque and Branch campus communities, a set of principles, procedures for exceptions, and considerations for decision-makers regarding remote work for University of New Mexico (UNM) graduate students holding assistantship appointments, to ensure student success, create an environment of learning and creative discovery, and promote fair decision-making.

Assistantship Remote Work Memorandum-of Agreement [pdf]


This document will use the generic term “Graduate Assistantship” to refer to all types of assistantship appointments as defined in the UNM Catalog, including Graduate Assistant, Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, and Project Assistant, as well as subcategories of these appointment types as described in the Catalog.


Graduate assistantship holders help the faculty in delivering the core mission of the University of New Mexico, the state’s premier institution of higher learning and provider of health care, promoting discovery, generating intellectual and cultural contributions, honoring academic values, and serving our community by building an educated, healthy and vigorous New Mexico. UNM’s 2040 strategic framework (April 13, 2022) describes the institution’s values that guide our work as we execute our strategy to achieve our mission; these values are excellence, inclusion, environment, integrity, and place.

An assistantship is a financial award to a graduate student for part-time work in teaching or research while pursuing study toward an advanced degree.  The primary goal of an assistantship is to assist students in strengthening and successfully completing their academic program. Graduate assistantship holders are first and foremost learners who require active, frequent, and engaged supervision, mentorship, and instruction in their employment assignments as well as academic work. Any remote work arrangement must facilitate and ensure that such supervision, mentorship, and instruction take place at a frequency and quality equivalent to what would take place for a graduate assistantship holder working on campus

As employees, UNM graduate assistantship holders are expected to participate fully in the intellectual life of the campus community and to fulfill their obligations in meeting the University’s mission, grounded in our values, as an engaged intellectual community and place for research and creative activity, teaching, learning, and service, fueled by faculty members and graduate assistantship holders who are regularly physically present on campus. UNM graduate assistantship holders foster the University’s intellectual community by engaging in dialogue with and stimulating ideas within undergraduate students, fellow graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty, and by doing so ensure the longevity and sustained legacy of the institution for the benefit of New Mexico. Regular and frequent in-person collegial interactions among students, faculty, and staff are essential to maintaining the integrity of the University as an intellectual community, developing a healthy institutional culture, and ensuring students’ success.

Substantial remote work by graduate assistantship holders should be rare and permitted only in exceptional cases when it is in the best interests of the University and our students, and such remote work must be expressly approved by the Chair, Dean, and Provost. Holders of graduate assistantships who have been approved to work remotely must be able to perform all aspects of each component of responsibility assigned to them with integrity, excellence, responsiveness, and timeliness.

In assigning graduate assistantship holders’ work, including the location and mode of instruction or research activities, the relevant department chair/program director and dean must ensure the above principles are supported. 

Additionally, graduate students considering a remote assistantship work assignment should ensure that they are able to fully support the above principles.

Requests for remote work as an accommodation for a disability or serious medical condition will be addressed through UNM’s accommodations request process with the Compliance, Ethics, and Equal Opportunity office (CEEO), in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, state law, and University policy.


Remote work is performing duties, including instruction, office hours, meetings, research, and other assigned duties, that would ordinarily be carried out in person, at a location other than UNM’s physical campus or other University of New Mexico work site for a semester or longer. Remote work does not include temporary occasional off-campus work or other approved absences.

These guidelines do not apply to graduate assistantship holders’ temporary/short-term travel and time away from campus for such activities as attendance at professional conferences, academic research/scholarship and creative works, professional service, off-campus instructional activities such as visits to field sites, or short term external fellowships.

Procedure for exceptions, effective 11/29/2023

Requests for remote work arrangements for graduate assistantship holders are initiated by the academic department in alignment with departmental business purposes. The Provost/Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs makes the final decision as to whether and to what extent remote work is an option for an individual graduate assistantship holder. Out-of-country remote work is prohibited except in instances of approved out-of-country temporary research work (e.g., field work). The Provost may delegate the authority to approve and implement remote work, including out-of-state arrangements, to deans or a senior member of the provost staff.  Only the Provost, or their delegate, in consultation with the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, is authorized to approve out-of-state remote work.

If approved, the academic unit (department/center or school/college) must ensure that the employee provides the University with all information, including address of residence and the address at which work is conducted so that the out-of-state remote work arrangement can be implemented in compliance with the applicable tax laws, labor laws, and other policies

A remote work arrangement is an exception to UNM’s expectation that graduate assistants will be regularly on campus, as described above. Remote work is not a right of an assistantship appointment and will not be available to all appointees or at all times; rather, a remote work arrangement is at the discretion of the Provost or delegate.

For any and all remote work that involves online teaching assignments, graduate assistants must follow UNM’s Online teaching policies, receive course approval by the graduate assistant’s employing department, and have completed the required trainings (e.g., EBPTO, RASI or other trainings as appropriate to the assignment) in advance of the start of the remote work assignment. Note that this requires planning by departments to ensure that such training is part of a graduate assistant’s work assignment before remote instructional work begins.

The primary consideration in determining instructional modality must be student learning and student success.  Courses to be taught remotely must be approved and published in the University’s official course schedule as such, with accurate and current information regarding required meetings, so that students enrolling in them know the course modality and schedule at the time of registration. Course modalities may not be changed after the course schedule has been published, except in emergencies and with the approval of the department chair and the Scheduling Department.

Assignment of a graduate student to an assistantship involving a remote work arrangement does not set a precedent that the student will be offered future assistantships with remote work arrangements. Appointment of a graduate assistantship holder to a remote work assignment must be primarily to meet the instructional, research, and programmatic needs of the department, and not for the convenience of the graduate assistantship holder.

The department Chair, the college Dean, and the Provost retain the authority to modify or discontinue a remote work arrangement for any graduate assistantship holder at any time/ 

Noncompliance with these guidelines may result in modification or discontinuation of a remote work arrangement, may be reflected in performance evaluations, and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in accord with applicable procedures.

Considerations for decision-makers 

Before implementation of a remote work arrangement for a graduate assistantship holder, the decision-makers must consider the following, as well as any aspects of remote work that are unique to the relevant college/school and department/program. Decision-makers include the department Chair, Dean, and Provost. 

A remote work arrangement is an exception to UNM’s expectation that the holders of graduate assistantships will be regularly available on campus. Therefore, remote work is not a right of an assistantship appointment, and the University retains the authority to modify or terminate any remote work arrangement at any time.


Each remote work arrangement must be memorialized with a memorandum initiated by the department and approved by the school/college/branch and Academic Affairs that addresses the following aspects of each remote work arrangement:

  1. Explanation of how the department will fully meet its responsibility to consistently and regularly supervise, mentor, and instruct the graduate assistantship holder in the performance of their duties, in accordance with the principle that graduate assistantship holders are learners.
  2. Explanation of how the graduate assistantship holder will fully meet their responsibilities to:
    1. Be present and readily accessible to the students that they serve, in synchronous and asynchronous course settings, during drop-in hours, and for other consultations and queries.
    2. Be present and readily accessible to their supervisor and other faculty mentors.
    3. Arrange schedules and otherwise ensure that remote work does not negatively impact those faculty, students, and fellow graduate students remaining on campus – generally accommodating the schedules and needs of those working on campus.
    4. Effectively assist undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the faculty members that they are assigned to assist, to achieve success.
  3. Expectations as to the availability of graduate assistantship holder to students (e.g., office hours/check-in times), faculty supervisor(s), and colleagues (e.g. research and instructional team meetings).
  4. Plans for servicing, repair, and replacement of any university-owned equipment issued.
  5. Arrangements for the return of any issued equipment upon separation of or completion of the contract of a graduate assistant working remotely.
  6. Management of institutional data: To ensure the availability and security of institutional data, UNM-approved storage solutions and secure modes of communication with UNM systems, as appropriate for the relevant data classification. UNM will not reimburse or provide a subsidy for a graduate assistantship holder’s utilities, broadband service, or parking. When hard copy material cannot be kept on campus, those materials should be stored in a location that has acceptable access control measures, such a locked cabinet or locked office. NOTE: A locked car is not considered a secured location.

Periodic review of remote work arrangements

Graduate students are offered assistantships on a temporary basis, with contracts generally issued for a given semester. The employing department will determine for any given semester whether an individual remote work arrangement is aligned with departmental needs.

Upon completion of a given contract period involving remote work, or upon completion of a semester, whichever is sooner, the department will review remote work arrangements to evaluate whether remote work has achieved all the principles and standards set out in these guidelines prior to seeking a subsequent assistantship remote work approval.

MOAs and draft contracts submitted in the Graduate Contracts system must report specifically on the results of the previous semester’s review.

If deficiencies are noted in either performance or the department’s ability to provide appropriate supervision, no subsequent contract with remote work provisions will be issued unless corrective actions are identified. 


Before a department implements a remote work arrangement for a given graduate assistantship holder, the following procedures must be completed.

The department reviews its instructional, research, and programmatic goals, determining which needs are best met by having one or more graduate assistantship holders work remotely.  Those needs can reasonably include facilitating the research activities of graduate students who are being considered for assistantships.  For example, a student whose dissertation research requires work in a location beyond commuting distance from the relevant UNM campus may be an appropriate candidate for remote work.

The department chair will consult with the school/college/branch dean regarding the proposed graduate assistant remote work arrangement.

If the dean or designee expresses support for the request, the department chair will prepare a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) addressing the aspects of the remote work arrangement detailed in the section (above) titled, Considerations for Decision-Makers, addressing both the department’s responsibilities as well as those of the Graduate Assistant.

An MOA template will be available on The Office for Academic Personnel’s website:

A Graduate Assistant with remote work agreement may hold only one assistantship appointment, from a single department. 

Contact the Associate Provost with questions. If the department chair approves the MOA, attesting thereby that the MOA meets meeting each aspect of these remote work guidelines, the MOA is routed to the dean for approval. If the dean approves the MOA, it is then routed to Academic Affairs for review and approval by the Provost. A copy of the MOA once signed will be sent back to the supervisor and Graduate Assistant.

Approved MOAs will be kept on file at the Office for Academic Personnel.

Once an approved MOA is in place, the department may initiate the contract using the OAP graduate contracts system. The department must indicate that this is a remote work position and use the “justifications” section of the contract form to indicate the state in which the remote work will take place and provide a summary of the rationale for the arrangement, the department’s commitments to supervision, expectations regarding remote work performance, and summary of the department’s review of previous remote work involving the individual graduate assistant for whom a contract is requested.

For remote work taking place in Spring 2024 only, if a contract is already in place for Spring 2024 at the time these guidelines come into force, the contract does not need to be cancelled and reissued. However, an MOA must be submitted by December 20, 2023, indicating the state in which work will take place.  Remote work is not be permitted unless and until the MOA is approved by the Office of the Provost.