University of Southern Indiana
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Teaching and Advising Policies

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Teaching Graduate Courses |  Blackboard Use  |  Faculty Use of Participation Activities
Faculty Absences  |  Guest Speakers and Special Events

College of Liberal Arts Availability Policy for Faculty and Chairs

All Faculty

All faculty of the College of Liberal Arts must be available to their students on pre-arranged days and times. Every effort should be taken to respond to students’ correspondence via email within a reasonable time frame during the workweek, which generally means Monday through Friday. Availability may take different forms and involve different means of communication, however, availability always requires that faculty maintain timely and regular access to those whom they instruct and to their colleagues. When faculty are not teaching or on contract, (e.g. while they are on sabbatical or during the months outside of nine-month or ten-month contracts) they are not required to respond to contact requests from students.


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Full-time Faculty

Full-time faculty are required to be available to students every week for a minimum of one hour per course taught in a traditional classroom setting or in a hybrid format.

  • For each distance-learning course taught, faculty are required to maintain a minimum of one virtual office hour every week. A virtual office hour is a designated hour during which a faculty member is accessible for synchronous communication by phone/text, or during which s/he promptly responds to emails. 
  • Faculty who do not teach distance-learning courses are expected to meet the minimum availability requirements in their on-campus offices.

Full-time faculty have an obligation to be available to students; this extends to their colleagues as well. Faculty must be available on campus during their contract periods, which begin on the date of the University’s open meetings at the start of each semester.

For summer sessions, faculty must be available during the workweek from the first day of the course through the day that grades are handed in. Full-time faculty must be available to attend departmental meetings as well as any other service obligations that occur during their contract periods, even if these meetings/obligations occur on non-teaching days.

Part-time Faculty

Part-time faculty are required to hold a minimum of one office hour per week for each course they teach.

  • Part-time faculty who are required to hold in-person office hours must hold them in an on-campus office or in a designated space that is clearly stated in the course syllabus.
  • In the event that a faculty member does not have an office and needs a private space in which to meet with a student, the faculty member should contact his or her chair or administrative assistant so that a private meeting space can be reserved.
  • Part-time faculty teaching both face-to-face and distance learning courses are expected to hold one office hour on campus per week for each face-to-face course and one virtual office hour for each distance learning course.

Department chairs, program directors and administrators with teaching responsibilities also are expected to be available to students, faculty and other administrators. These individuals should maintain open lines of communication about their availability with their administrative assistants.

Chairs, Program Directors and Administrators

Chairs, program directors and administrators should be available in their offices at least one hour per week for each hour of assigned time they receive as part of their administrative positions; those teaching distance learning courses must also maintain at least one virtual office hour each week per course.

Additionally, department chairs, program directors, and administrators must be available on campus for meetings and other required service obligations, which occur during their contract periods. Chairs, program directors, and administrators with teaching responsibilities should make every effort to maintain at least two hours every week of established availability to students, faculty, and other administrators, while the rest of the hours of availability required as part of assigned time can be put in on a more flexible schedule.

Approved: February 28, 2017

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Teaching Graduate Courses

Full-time faculty teaching a standalone graduate course (or multiple graduate classes) during the academic year (fall/spring) will receive three hours of assigned time for that semester (three hours of assigned time is the maximum for any given semester regardless of how many graduate courses an individual faculty member teaches during a specific term).

For summer terms, full-time faculty teaching stand-alone, three-hour graduate courses will be compensated at the rate of six credit hours for the first three-hour graduate course and at a regular rate for any additional graduate courses taught during that term.

Exceptions may be made in cases where full-time faculty have administrative assignments that conflict with this policy or in cases that conflict with departmental or programmatic accreditation standards. Those cases of exception will be determined by the department chair of the faculty member's home department in conjunction with the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

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Blackboard Use for Course Materials & Student Communication

In the spirit of environmental sustainability and cost-effectiveness, the College of Liberal Arts will require all faculty to place their course materials (excluding exams and other exempted materials) on Blackboard for student dissemination beginning Fall 2010. Printed copies of syllabi, readings, assignments, and other handouts will not be provided to students.

The following criteria relate to this policy:

  1. Faculty should load all course materials (excluding exams and other exempted materials) onto Blackboard for student accessibility.
  2. Blackboard training is available to all faculty at scheduled workshops and by individual appointment. Faculty needing introductory Blackboard training should contact the Dean’s Office.
  3. Exams and quizzes are exempt from this policy. Other course materials may be exempted by permission of the department chair or program director.
  4. Faculty are responsible for adhering to copyright laws for course materials.
  5. It is suggested that faculty post grades as they become available throughout the semester on the Blackboard site.

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Faculty Use of Participation Activities in Grading Practices  

Incorporating the use of participation and/or attendance as a graded activity in liberal arts classes is at the discretion of the instructor. However, if any percentage of a final course grade is based upon participation activity(ies), the following criteria must be met.

  1. The percentage of the final course grade that is based upon participation must be clearly stated in the syllabus.
  2. How points and/or grades are awarded for participation and what students must do to be awarded those points and/or grades must be clearly specified in the syllabus.
  3. Students must be able to check on their participation score(s) throughout the semester. (It is suggested that participation scores be posted on Blackboard and updated as participation activities progress.)
  4. Participation grades shall be assigned equitably and fairly to all students.

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Policy Regarding Faculty Absences from Scheduled Classes


1. Unexpected Absences

A faculty member, who is unexpectedly absent, must call his/her department chair. If the chair cannot be reached, the faculty member should leave a message and call the departmental administrative assistant. If the administrative assistant cannot be reached, the faculty member should call the College of Liberal Arts Main Office (464-1855). An absent faculty member must speak with one of the individuals listed above; a message or an email is not sufficient.

If a class must be canceled, the faculty member should notify students by email and Blackboard as soon as she/he knows that a class will be canceled. This notification should also include any instructions for students that pertain to work due on the day of the cancellation, as well as any accommodation or assignments to compensate for lost class time.

An administrative assistant should announce class cancellations only when the absent faculty member is unable to do so. Furthermore, administrative assistants should not distribute study questions, take attendance, or perform any other course-related activities.

2. Scheduled Absences

Faculty members, who know in advance that they will be absent from class, are required to make arrangements to provide students with a meaningful educational experience for each class period that the faculty member will be absent. In these cases, the faculty member should arrange for another faculty member to be present during the class meeting times. Examples of such experiences include, but are not limited to:

  • An examination
  • A guest speaker, internal or external to the University
  • A relevant video
  • An in-class discussion led by student(s) and facilitated by another faculty member
  • A formal session with a reference librarian
  • An out-of-class assignment leading to a product
  • An in-class assignment or group project

Arrangements to cover classes due to absences of up to three consecutive University business days must be coordinated with the department chair.

3. Extended Absences

For absences of more than three consecutive University business days, the faculty member must obtain approval in advance from both the department chair and the college dean, who must approve arrangements for covering classes.

If a faculty member will be unable to meet his or her class(es) for an extended period of time (typically one week or more), the department chair, in consultation with the dean of the college, will make arrangements to secure a replacement instructor for each course affected by the extended absence.

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Guest Speakers and Special Events

Download the Special Event/Speaker Checklist for information about planning successful sponsored events or guest speakers.

You should also complete a College of Liberal Arts Funding and Event Request to obtain approval for your event.

You may need to request a taxpayer identification number. Use the most current version of the form W-9, which can be found on the Internal Revenue Service website.

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