Essential Matters - Fall 2014


Words from the Provost to highlight a number of matters for your attention.

Full Description

Dear Colleagues: 

First, 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 I ask that you take the time to (re)acquaint yourselves with each of these critical issues. I also want to take this opportunity to remind you of the online resources provided by our Compliance & Policy Office.

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, and are collected in the online policy library.   

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 of commitment or other conflict of interest, and 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. Information and resources regarding conflicts are available online. 

Discrimination and Harassment

Please review W&M’s new policy on Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation. This policy, which replaces the Sexual Harassment policy, includes reporting obligations for employees. Please also familiarize yourself with campus resources for discrimination-related services by reviewing the poster (pdf). In addition, the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity will soon be launching an online course on Preventing Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation. You are urged to engage and learn more about these important topics.

Faculty, Staff, and Students with Disabilities – Request 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 the Dean of Students Office (for students with disabilities) or the Office of Diversity (for faculty or other employees with disabilities). 

Emergency Closings

Only the Provost can cancel classes or alter work obligations of College employees. The sole exemption is for the Gloucester Point campus of VIMS, for the closure of which the Dean/Director has the authority. The specific policy and details are online. Also, 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.

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 reimbursement, such as when you 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. 

Information Security and Sensitive Data

The College is required by law to protect specific information defined as “sensitive data” and has therefore implemented the “Policy for Securing Sensitive Data.” This policy provides a definition of what constitutes “sensitive data” (it is narrowly defined) and describes other important rules for handling “sensitive data. Most notably, be aware that storing sensitive data using services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive or other cloud-based storage services is not permitted. View this and other important Information Security Policies

Use of Copyrighted Materials

Please review this; it is important and touches on matters such as assembling course materials. Find the policy online. If you have any questions or need clarification or guidance, please contact Dean Carrie Cooper, who is my designee in copyright matters.

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 BlackBerries and smartphones and social media technologies such as LinkedIn, Facebook, 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. 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.

Mandatory Reporting Obligations

There are certain situations that you are required to report to others, including Clery Act crimes, abuse of a minor and sexual assault or other forms of sexual harassment of a student. Information about these reporting requirements is provided by the Office of Compliance & Policy. 

Environment, Health & Safety Compliance

This Office assists all workers to ensure their own safety while maintaining a safe environment for others in the campus community. The EH&S office also 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.”  Find more information. Per College policy, the EH&S Office has “stop work” authority if a dangerous situation is deemed to exist. In the event that you disagree with a directive issued by the EH&S Office, please contact the Vice Provost for Research and your dean with a written request for review, while you do your best to comply with the directive.

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.