DATE: August 25, 2022
TO: All Teaching Faculty 
FROM: Drew Kerkhoff, Associate Provost 
SUBJECT: Important Academic Policies for the Semester’s Start

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Welcome back to Gambier! We are looking forward to the new academic year as an opportunity to reconnect with one another and with our students more deeply. We are also welcoming 35 new members to our faculty community and another large class of first-year and transfer students, and we want to create a welcoming and reliable environment for them to settle in and find their own way of belonging at Kenyon.

One component of providing that welcoming and reliable environment is having a clear understanding of the policies and procedures that apply to our courses and classrooms. Fully articulated policies can be found in the Faculty Handbook, the Course Catalog, and the Student Handbook. Please refer to those sources for more detailed information. The following are key policies that all faculty should be aware of at the start of the semester. We will be sending another reminder of policies that pertain to the semester’s end closer to that time. The list below is alphabetical.

ACADEMIC HONESTY: Articulating clear course-specific (and even assignment-specific) expectations is the best way to avoid the academic infractions process, which is deeply unpleasant for everyone involved. To help students avoid inadvertent infractions and understand the significant consequences they face, faculty should:

  • Include a statement on academic integrity in their syllabus (required)

  • Discuss their policy with the class and be responsive to students seeking clarity.

Do not assume that your students already understand academic integrity.

A violation of academic honesty is a collegiate issue and may not be handled independently by an individual instructor. An instructor who suspects a student of academic dishonesty is required to present the evidence to their department chair, who must consult the Provost’s Office to help determine whether the case should advance to the Academic Infractions Board. 

Full policies can be found in the Course Catalog and procedures for faculty who suspect a violation is in the Faculty Handbook. Sample syllabus statements can be found in the Anatomy of a Syllabus.

CANCELED CLASSES: If an emergency makes it necessary for an instructor to cancel a class, they should notify the class, the department administrative assistant, and the department chair. 

In cases of extended interruptions, if they wish to, instructors may continue to teach remotely for up to a week’s worth of classes. If circumstances require more than a week of class cancellation or remote instruction, they should contact their department chair and the Provost’s office to make alternative arrangements for the classes to be made up or otherwise covered.

CLASS ATTENDANCE: Faculty members must articulate their attendance policy at the first meeting of the course and include the policy in the course syllabus. 

Excessive absence (> 25% of class meetings, or an alternative threshold set by the instructor) is a valid reason for an instructor to expel a student from a course. If the instructor chooses another threshold absence level, they need to communicate it clearly in the syllabus. Any expulsion must be preceded by a progress report that includes an expulsion warning.

Faculty members are expected to monitor the regular attendance of their students, and they should pay careful attention to first-year students and those on conditional enrollment. Patterns of regular or repeated absence should be the subject of a progress report

Instructors will receive notification of student absence due to the following reasons:

  1. Curricular or extracurricular activities sanctioned in advance by the College,

  2. Infirmity as determined by the College Health and Counseling Center (including but not limited to COVID-related isolation), or

  3. Compelling and unavoidable personal circumstances as determined by the Dean of Student Development or the Dean for Academic Advising.  

The College also supports students who observe religious and faith holidays. At the start of each semester, students should notify faculty members of any scheduled class meetings, assignments, or examinations that may conflict with their religious observances.

In all of these cases, students may not be penalized for their absence, but they should be held responsible for all course assignments.  The rescheduling of examinations or assigned work must be initiated by the student.

CLASS MEETING TIMES: All classes and laboratory sessions are scheduled both in hours and rooms by the Registrar. Instructors wishing to arrange special times or places must receive the approval of the Registrar. Once the schedules of class meetings have been announced, no change in official times may be made without the approval of the Registrar.

COURSE SYLLABI: To allow students to plan their work for each semester, instructors should provide at an early class meeting a syllabus articulating the learning goals of the course and its requirements, the assignments and the attendance policy of the instructor, and advance notice of due dates for all exams and major assignments.

The syllabus must explain how final grades will be determined, specifying the relative value of performance on all assignments, and class participation. The syllabus must also include policy statements on late work, academic honesty, and accommodations for students with disabilities.

Any significant change to the original syllabus, including new assignments or changes in due dates, must be communicated to the students in a timely manner and in writing.

A full description of syllabus requirements and recommendations can be found in the Anatomy of a Syllabus.

COVID-19 CONSIDERATIONS: Instructors should remain up-to-date with Kenyon’s COVID-19 Guidelines throughout the semester. Currently, instructors may require masks in their classrooms, as long as students are clearly informed of the requirement up front. When students test positive, instructors will receive a notification of excused absence, as described above. In accordance with CDC guidelines, people who are exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic should test at the appropriate time and wear a mask around others at all times for 5 days after last exposure. However, they are not required to isolate unless they become symptomatic or test positive themselves.

Faculty or students with questions regarding COVID-19 policies should reach out to Associate Provost Drew Kerkhoff, Chair of the COVID Steering Committee.

DISABILITY ACCOMMODATIONS AND ACCESSIBILITY: Instructors partner with the office of Student Accessibility and Support Services to ensure that all course materials are accessible to all students in the class and that students with documented disabilities receive reasonable accommodations. Instructors will receive a notification letter for each student in their class who is entitled to accommodation, and students should initiate a discussion with the instructor to determine, in consultation with SASS, how those needs can be met in the context of the course. Timely and consistent communication between students, faculty, and SASS staff.

The course syllabus must also include an Accessibility Accommodations statement directing students who may need accommodations to consult with SASS. Examples are available in the Anatomy of a Syllabus.

FINAL EXAMS: Final examination periods are three hours in length, and whether the instructor is giving a timed exam, a take-home exam, or an alternative capstone assignment (e.g., a paper, project, or presentation), that work must be due at the scheduled exam time set by the Registrar’s Office. When deciding on the length of timed exams, instructors should be mindful of both the mental fatigue involved and the fact that a significant number of students receive testing accommodations for time-and-half or double time on tests.

Cancellation and rescheduling of the scheduled exam time requires the permission of an Associate Provost, even if the entire class agrees to the change. Instructors may schedule an additional alternative final examination time for the entire class as long as both times are available to all students in the course. If the additional times are needed to accommodate assignments like presentations, oral exams, or critiques, care should be taken to avoid conflicts with the scheduled exams of students in the class. Alternative exam times may not be scheduled during grace periods or on reading days.

In some cases (e.g., more than two exams on one day, health problems, or a personal crisis) the Dean for Academic Advising and Support, in consultation with the instructor, may give the student permission to take an exam at an irregular time. In these cases, there is no obligation to offer an alternative time to the entire class. 

The final exam schedule is set by the Registrar for December 12-16 in the fall and for May 8-12 in the spring. Any exceptions to the final exam schedule as provided by the Registrar must be approved by an Associate Provost. Please note that we do not consider student work or travel plans as appropriate reasons for rescheduling final exams. Full policies on final exams are in the Faculty Handbook.

GRACE PERIODS: The College provides grace periods during the year to ensure that:

  1. Students have adequate time, free from extraordinary pressures, to prepare for final examinations,

  2. Students have winter and spring breaks free from substantial assignments, and

  3. The routine work in classes during the final week of the semester is not disrupted. 

During grace periods, instructors may not offer final examinations, and they should not require assignments beyond what is necessary for normal daily participation in class. Instructors may only schedule more ambitious assignments during grace periods if there is a pedagogical rationale for doing so, and they must inform the class of these assignments in the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. 

The grace periods for the current academic year are December 5-11, January 16-17, March 20-21, and May 1-7. Students and faculty with questions concerning Grace Periods should contact an Associate Provost.   

INCOMPLETES: Instructors may not accept for credit any work submitted after the last day of the semester unless the student has been granted permission by the Dean for Academic Advising and Support for an incomplete. The last day of the semester is specified on the College calendar.

OFFICE HOURS: Full-time instructors are expected to maintain open office hours five hours per week, typically one hour per day. Part-time faculty may pro-rate their hours based on this standard.  Office hours should be posted on your door and entered on the web through the Personal Access page, accessible via the Registrar’s webpage. Office hours may be conducted online, but we encourage instructors to meet with their students in-person whenever possible.

PROGRESS REPORTS: Progress reports are a means to engage support for students who are experiencing challenges in their classes as well to recognize improvement or outstanding work.

Instructors are required to submit progress reports throughout each semester for students with excessive absences, delinquent/unsatisfactory work, and/or academic deficiencies (performance at C- or below). Progress reports are also submitted at mid-term and the end of the semester for students on Conditional Enrollment to provide regular feedback on academic progress, even when academic performance is not deficient. Improvement and exceptional work by any student can also be reported.

Progress reports are sent to the student's advisor, the academic advising office, the registrar's office, and additional sources of support on campus. The advisor and/or dean for academic advising use these reports to counsel the student on appropriate next steps. Progress reports for students on Conditional Enrollment are reviewed by the Committee on Academic Standards and considered in its deliberations at the end of each semester.

READING PERIODS: The College provides reading periods at the end of each semester to provide time for preparation for final examinations or work on alternative final assignments. Instructors may not hold required meetings of classes, give tests, assign work, or schedule alternative final examination times during these periods. An exception is made in the case of honors examinations, which may be scheduled during reading periods. Reading Days for the current academic year are December 10-12 in the fall and May 6-8 in the spring.

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