Words from the Provost to highlight a number of matters for your attention.
Welcome back to the start of the new year! I hope you had a satisfying and restorative summer.
I write to highlight a number of matters for your attention at this time of the year. Most are in the way of reminders, but in some cases there have been significant changes. This is a long message, but I ask that you take the time to (re)acquaint yourselves with each of these critical issues.
Personnel Policies and Handbooks
All employees, including faculty, operate under personnel policies governing the terms and conditions of their employment. These policies, which are collected in handbooks for certain types of employees, are posted on both the Provost’s Office and the Office of Human Resources websites as well as on W&M’s online policy library.
Only the Provost can cancel classes or alter work obligations of university employees (for VIMS and Ash Lawn-Highland, the Dean/Director and Executive Director, respectively, will make closing decisions), pursuant to the Emergency Closing Policy. Please make sure that your phone number(s) and email address(es) in the Emergency Notification System are current. These can be updated via Banner Self-Service.
Safety and Respectful Workplace and Reporting Obligations
Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Violence
Please review W&M’s policies on Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation and Sexual Misconduct, which were updated this year. Please also familiarize yourself with campus resources for discrimination-related services.
Faculty, Staff and Students with Disabilities – Requesting and Implementing Accommodation
W&M modifies academic and working conditions and programs as necessary to accommodate students and employees with disabilities. Accommodations may be authorized only by Student Accessibility Services or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (for faculty/employees with disabilities). It is essential that faculty take care to fully and promptly implement any specific student accommodation. Faculty should inform their department chair/program director/dean so that the Academic Scheduling Office may be alerted of any classroom-oriented accommodation. If you have any questions, please contact the Dean of Students Office at 221-2509 or Chon Glover at 221-7940.
There are certain situations that you are required to report to others, including sexual assault or other forms of sexual harassment of a student and threats and acts of violence. Information about these reporting requirements is available on the mandatory reporting website. Further information about identifying threats and the university’s threat assessment team can be found on the violence prevention and education website.
New Preferred Name Option for Students
Students will soon be able to indicate a preferred name using the personal information questionnaire (PIQ) in Banner Self-Service. This preferred name will appear on course lists in Blackboard and, as we upgrade Banner, on class rosters. In the meantime, please allow students to express a preferred name to you and use it in your interactions with students. The preferred name option is part of W&M’s efforts to make transgender or genderqueer students feel welcome on campus; for more information, visit our new LGBTQ resource website.
Concern about a Student
Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office promptly with any concerns about an individual student – general welfare concerns (multiple class absences, personal or family crisis, disturbed/disturbing behavior), suspicions about hazing, conduct/honor violations, signs of substance abuse, or any other matter that raises concern. The Dean of Students website has an online Care Report Form and the Dean’s professional staff will follow-up promptly based on the information provided. In cases of imminent safety concern, always contact the W&M Police at 221-4596.
Student Honor Code
The Office of Student Conduct has a special page of resources for faculty regarding the Honor Code on its website; it includes information and guidance about creating a climate of honor in the classroom, model syllabus language, FAQs, and preventing and addressing student classroom misconduct. Of note is a new feature of the Honor System that permits faculty members to resolve certain low-level, first-time honor violations without need for a formal hearing. In this process, the instructor and the student can resolve a violation with a mutually agreed sanction outcome. This process provides a non-adversarial means of resolution while also allowing for the teachable moment created by dialogue. Note that the process is only available for certain types of violations and only for first-time offenses; thus, consultation with the Office of Student Conduct is necessary prior to any resolution. The Office of Student Conduct and the Honor Council are available to speak with classes or meet with departments at any time. Please contact Dave Gilbert, Associate Dean of Students, for more information.
Environment, Health & Safety Compliance
The EH&S office is responsible for maintaining compliance with health, safety, and environmental regulations and standards. Please review and comply with EH&S procedures, including all directives for fire/safety drills, safety inspections or routine “walk-throughs.” Per W&M policy, the EH&S Office has “stop work” authority if a dangerous situation is deemed to exist.
Conflicts of Interest
Our Code of Ethics requires that we avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. One type of conflict is financial remuneration, gifts or other benefits that might be provided to faculty and staff from vendors or other service providers. External paid employment can also present a conflict, and, for faculty (other than adjuncts) and full-time professional employees, must be approved in advance. You should also be aware that under Virginia law, the business and financial dealings of your spouse are imputed to you; thus, your obligation to avoid conflicts of interests extends to your spouse’s activities. Find information and resources regarding conflicts.
Travel and Other Transactions Involving W&M Money
Regardless of funding source, when using funds through the university, including when you make a business-related purchase for which you later request reimbursementor or travel on university business, you must follow applicable policies and procedures. For example, you must have an approved travel authorization prior to travel. Further information about buying goods or services is available from the Office of Procurement and information about travel expense reimbursement is available through Financial Operations.
Technology, Information and Intellectual Property
Information Security and Sensitive Data
W&M is required by law to protect specific information defined as “sensitive data.” The Data Classification and Protection Policy narrowly defines “sensitive data” and describes other important rules for handling such data. Most notably, be aware that storing sensitive data using services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive or other cloud-based storage services – as well as using Learning Management Systems other than Blackboard or Canvass (OMBA only) – is not permitted. Instead, please use Box, W&M’s file sharing, file storage and collaboration platform. Visit IT’s security policies website for important information.
Use of Copyrighted Materials
Please review W&M’s Policy and Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Work; it is important and touches on matters such as assembling course materials. If you have any questions or need clarification or guidance, please contact Dean Carrie Cooper, who is W&M’s designee in copyright matters.
Intellectual Property, Technology Transfer, and Export Control
Along with various regulations, laws, and policies regulating research, all of which can be found in the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies’ semester compliance reminder letter, employees must comply with W&M policies on Intellectual Property and Export Control. Review the research reminder letter and policies.
Use of the Internet and Electronic Media and W&M computers
State policy on use of the Internet and electronic communications covers a broad range of devices such as smartphones and social media technologies including Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. Under the policy, personal use of these technologies is permitted as long as it does not (1) interfere with productivity or performance; (2) adversely affect systems or (3) imply that the communication is made on behalf of W&M. The policy outlining specific requirements and banned activities is online here. The policy outlines specific requirements and banned activities (pdf). In addition, the Code of Virginia prohibits the use of W&M-owned or leased computers to access sexually explicit content, except when approved in advance by the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate/Professional Studies.
Of course, if you have any questions about any of the items listed above, please do not hesitate to contact your supervisor, department head, dean or my office. Thank you for your attention to these important matters.