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Faculty Focus

Working together to support W&M students.

We offer these brief summaries of topics related to student success for professors at William & Mary. More extensive information about Disability Services and Student Conduct is also recommended for our faculty partners.

Academic Struggles

Faculty members often talk with students who are concerned about their academic performance. You should be aware, though, that our office has professional staff members who work with students on developing effective study skills, habits, and strategies. Consider referring students who you identify as needing additional academic assistance.

Absences (Undergraduate)

Because regular class attendance is crucial to academic success, we encourage you to notify us, as well as the student, any time a student has missed one too many classes. When we receive your notice, we initiate a procedure to locate the student within 24 hours to discuss what their academic or personal issues may be. Our office can assist students experiencing unexpected or difficult circumstances by providing both direct support--study skills assistance and disability services--as well as referrals to other appropriate resources, like their academic advisor, the Counseling Center, the Health Center, and Career Services.

We'll give you feedback within 72 hours.

Disruptive Behavior

According to the Student Handbook the definition of disruptive behavior is "conduct which obstructs or disrupts a normal function." If a student is disrupting your class to the point that you find it difficult to teach or students are finding it difficult to learn, then disruptive behavior is occurring.

You should be able to handle most inappropriate behaviors at the time of the disruption. However, some may require consultation, College judicial action, or immediate emergency response. To learn more please read our recommendations for managing and responding to disruptive behavior in the classroom (PDF).

Illnesses/Unusual Circumstances

As part of your course attendance policy, you can require students to present the Dean of Students Office with medical information documenting their illness before agreeing to accept late assignments or to reschedule missed quizzes and tests. Should the student miss several days, either consecutively or as a pattern of poor attendance, please refer him/her to the Dean of Students Office. We will work with the student to obtain adequate medical care for serious or chronic conditions and keep you informed of physician recommendations or academic accommodations made necessary by the illness.

Honor Code Infractions

It is the responsibilty of each W&M student to uphold the Honor Code. Students must also reject dishonorable conduct in others. If an honor system is to be effective, students and all College community members must report suspected violations of the Honor Code by students. Please refer to the Resources for Faculty section for more about the Honor Code.

Danger Zones

These are sensitive issues you should constantly be aware of.

Grades and Test Scores

Posting grades or returning graded work in ways that connect confidential information to "personally identifiable" information is a violation of FERPA.

Blocked Information

Giving out directory information about a student who has requested confidentiality is a violation. In addition, it may cause the student harm. Faculty members can check to see if a student has placed a block on his/her records by contacting the Registrar.

Re-disclosure

Re-disclosing information that has been shared with you by another faculty or staff member without authorization or reason is a violation. Disclosure must follow one of the provisions of FERPA listed above.

Parental Release (Undergraduate)

You must have  permission from the student before you can release any information to their parents or legal guardians. Students may give general permission to release information about academics, financial matters, or honor code/student conduct information and this permission is on file with the Dean of Students Office.

Please call us to learn if there is a release on record before you discuss information concerning a student's academic performance including grades, notification of academic warning, academic probation, required academic withdrawal, or conduct/honor code related issues.

Deferred Exams (Undergraduate)

The Office of the Dean of Students manages the deferred exam process during final exam periods. We defer exams for the following reasons:

  • medical issues that are verified by a doctor's statement
  • family emergency, such as a death
  • conflict with a religious holiday
  • confirmed automobile trouble for commuter students
  • documentation of a job interview or graduate school interview that cannot be changed
Rescheduled Final Exams (Undergraduate)

If we approve a deferred exam, we'll contact you to determine if a rescheduled exam is preferred. If you prefer to reschedule the exam, determine a mutually convenient day and time with your student. Sometimes a student's request isn't clearly within the guidelines, but it still may have merit. If this is the case, we will contact you, discuss the request, and together determine if an exception should be approved. We'll never reschedule a final examination without prior discussion and approval from you.

Religious Accommodations

The College of William & Mary urges its administrators, faculty members, and staff to be sensitive to the religious holidays of organized religions. All persons should be able to participate in the essential practices of their faith without conflict with academic requirements, as long as such practices are in accordance with state and federal regulations and consistent with safety regulations of the College. The College offers the following guidelines:

  • As soon as possible and no later than the end of the drop/add period, each student has the responsibility to inform his or her instructor of religious observances that are likely to conflict directly with classes and other required academic activities. Each student has the responsibility to arrange his or her course schedule to minimize conflicts. It is understood that when scheduling options exist for religious observances, the student has the responsibility to minimize conflicts.
  • Based upon prior agreement between the instructor and student, a student who misses a class meeting because of a scheduling conflict with religious observances should be allowed, whenever possible, to complete without penalty the work missed because of such absences. A student who is absent from a test or presentation because of the observance of a religious holiday should be able to reschedule it without penalty. Absence from a final examination requires that the examination be rescheduled through the established process for rescheduling of final examinations by the Dean of Students. Graduate students should contact the Dean of the School or his or her designee.
  • If a scheduling conflict with a student's planned absence cannot be resolved between the instructor and the student, undergraduates should inform the Dean of Students who will follow the established procedure for a class absence. Graduate students should contact the Dean of the School or his or her designee.
  • Faculty members and administrators in charge of scheduling campus-wide events should avoid conflicts with religious holidays as much as possible.
Letters

You may receive a letter or email from the Dean of Students Office confirming that a student is dealing with significant issues at the time. We may not be able to give you full information due to privacy commitments, but we invite you to communicate with us if you know of any other circumstances affecting the student's academic success.