Academic Catalog


III.Faculty Responsibilities: A. Teaching-Related Responsibilities

1. Teaching Load and Office Hours

The normal teaching load for tenure track and tenured faculty is five courses per year. Non-tenure track faculty members normally teach six courses per year. Equivalency norms exist in the sciences (for laboratory responsibilities) and in the performing and studio arts. The supervision of Directed or Independent Studies, Senior Research, or Senior Creative Project is expected as well. Faculty members are expected to keep a reasonable number of office hours for consultation and discussion with students, especially students in their classes.

2. Syllabi

Faculty should be clear and explicit as to course expectations, learning objectives, and methods of assigning grades. While the content or coverage of material in the syllabus may change as the semester progresses, the descriptions of expectations and determinations of grades is viewed as an agreement between the instructor and students, which should be honored as stated in the initial syllabus.

3. Academic Integrity

See section VII. A. for the statement that affirms the value the University attaches to academic integrity and serves as a model that faculty may use or adapt in their course syllabi.

4. Evaluation of Teaching in Courses

a. The evaluation of teaching effectiveness at Denison University will consist of formative and summative evaluation procedures.

Formative evaluation is a means or process to help an individual assess the effectiveness of teaching and improve teaching. Formative evaluation methods should focus on the intellectual questions that inform course design and direct attention to assisting an instructor in determining what works well and what is not working as effectively. Methods of evaluation will vary depending upon the goals of an instructor, disciplinary goals, and departmental or institutional goals. The selection and use of particular formative evaluation methods will draw upon discussions between the instructor and the instructor's colleagues. However, the process of formative evaluation will use information collected from the instructor, colleagues, and students. Feedback and consultation are part of the formative evaluation process. In addition, formative evaluation occurs over time and also continues throughout one's teaching career.

Summative evaluation produces a judgment of teaching effectiveness. Those faculty and administrators charged with rendering personnel decisions use these judgments in making decisions regarding contract renewal, tenure, promotion, salary review, and for periodic senior review. Thus, summative evaluation continues throughout one's teaching career.

Summative evaluation is an interpretation of information collected from the instructor, students, and colleagues. Summative evaluation processes should be based on reasonable professional judgment about what constitutes good teaching in the discipline, with a focus on shared criteria for teaching effectiveness. Colleague review is both a professional responsibility and an essential element of developing and implementing consensus about teaching effectiveness.

b. Departments and programs should have the primary role in developing a formative evaluation system and should produce a written plan that describes the essential components of this system. The formative evaluation system should be sensitive to the variety of teaching contexts, goals, and methods used by the department's or program's instructors. Information regarding the purposes, operation, and implementation of a department's or program's formative evaluation system should be considered “community property” and be available to all University faculty in order to foster a climate of cooperation, professional development, and mutual enlightenment. The formative evaluation system should include the direct and ongoing participation of some or all of the instructor's department colleagues.

Classroom observation is a required component of formative evaluation. The instructor and the observer(s) should agree upon a specific schedule and the procedures for evaluation before the observations take place. Classroom observation undertaken by colleagues should occur in different courses and at different periods of time within a semester and across semesters. Thus, there will be multiple opportunities for feedback and discussion following the observations. Faculty in a department or program have the responsibility of determining the number and choice of colleagues who will act as observers and the timing of these observations for the purposes of formative evaluation.

The formative evaluation procedures should be manageable and practical within the resources of the department or program and the University. The formative evaluation plan should also be monitored and periodically assessed by the department or program and by the appropriate councils or offices of the University.

c. Departments will conduct formative evaluation of teaching of candidates during the first and second years in preparation for the third-year summative review and in accordance with the foregoing description of the evaluation of teaching courses.

d. Classroom observation is a required component of summative evaluation. Faculty in a department or program have the responsibility of determining the number and choice of colleagues who will act as observers and the timing of these observations. There will be a minimum of two observers from a department. In addition, any colleague who participates in this process should make at least two observations within a specific course. Colleagues' multiple observations should occur closely together in time or sequentially in order to provide a view of how the instructor develops and coordinates teaching activities on a given topic. The instructor's teaching will be observed in different courses and at different periods of time within a semester. Preparation and discussion should be part of the classroom observation process. The instructor and the classroom observer(s) should agree upon a minimum of two specific days of classes. In advance of the observations, the instructor should provide the observer(s) with course syllabi, handouts, assignments or other relevant teaching materials. In addition, a brief discussion before the observation should identify the instructor's objectives and planned class activities, materials, and any other concerns or issues identified as important for the observation. A brief discussion should be held immediately or shortly after a class observation in order to get clarification or additional information about the events and activities observed.

e. A common summative evaluation form will be distributed electronically to students during the last two weeks of the semester. The instructor and department or program chair will receive the evaluation results after student grades have been posted.

The instructor is responsible for providing the rating-scale summaries and the individual questionnaires (i.e., the original form with rating-scale and the written responses) when a summative evaluation is conducted for the purpose of a personnel review. Faculty can ask students to respond to additional questions. However, these questions will be presented on a form separate from the summative evaluation questionnaire, and these may or may not be submitted in a review.

5. Advising 

Section III.A.5. of the Faculty Handbook was updated by governance proposal #14-32.

Advising is a form of teaching that is purposeful, ongoing and regular. Advising is integral to teaching at Denison. The academic advisor plays a key role in helping students learn to become autonomous thinkers, capable of self-determination through their exploration of the liberal arts. Following their first year of employment, all tenured and tenure-track faculty, as well as some visiting faculty (as determined by departments and the Provost), will be responsible for academic advising.

The chief role of a faculty advisor is to assist students in thinking through their undergraduate liberal arts experience and their educational goals so that they may take full advantage of the resources available at Denison University. The advising relationship develops and changes over the course of four years, as student needs and concerns evolve. Advisors are expected to encourage students to think critically about the benefits of a liberal education. They are also expected to know Denison’s current academic regulations as well as the educational resources available at the university. Knowledge of the General Education program and the ability to assist students in navigating the University’s academic programs are essential. Advisors should also be proactive in directing students to additional advising and mentorship persons and resources from across campus.

Faculty should also offer guidance beyond these matters: assisting students in identifying their interests; helping students make links between their immediate and long-range goals; discussing career paths and graduate school options; referring students to institutional resources for academic or personal support; and giving advice, when appropriate, on decisions relating to personal or quality-of-life choices.

Specific Goals: Specifically, the goals of academic advising are as follows:

a. Facilitate student understanding of the purposes of a liberal arts education.

b. Encourage and guide the advisee in identifying interests and setting personal goals.

c. Promote the development of student autonomy in making educational decisions.

d. Advise students on questions and problems related to their academic progress.

e. Assist students with information and referrals regarding academic policies, procedures, and opportunities.

f. Advise students on course selection and proposed academic schedules.

g. Monitor students’ academic progress.​

Oversight: The Office of the Provost will oversee and coordinate advising. The office will:

a. Track advising loads with the support of departmental chairs.

b. Work with the Dean of First Year Students in coordinating and facilitating the advising of first-year students. In the assignment of first-year advisees, a variety of criteria will be taken into account, including the current university median of advisees per faculty member.

c. Oversee the implementation of regulations and processes related to academic advising.

d. Coordinate support for academic advising with academic departments, academic programs, and relevant offices.

e. Develop programs for advisor orientation and continued training.

​Department Responsibilities: Academic departments and programs will assume an active role in monitoring the effectiveness of academic advising. Departments are expected to:

a. Discuss expectations regarding advising.

b. Provide support for new faculty in the development of advising skills.

c. Develop resources for advising within the major and exploring Denison opportunities.

d. Examine variability in advising load among faculty and seek ways to reduce variability in advising loads.

e. Regularly reflect on advising statistics and processes, perhaps as part of departmental assessment.

f. Work with other offices of the University involved with student academic advising.

6. Mid-Semester Grades

Mid-semester grades must be submitted for all first-year students and sophomores. Although mid-semester grades are not required for juniors and seniors, should grades of C- or below be submitted, the Registrar will notify those students of their performance. Mid-semester grade reports will go to all first-year students and sophomores and to their academic advisors. Reports are mailed home only if parents or guardians in consultation with the student request them from the Office of the Registrar.

7. Guidelines for Senior Thesis or Senior Creative Project

a. A final product that is judged to merit Recognition will receive the following acknowledgment:

1. the student’s name, the title of the project, and the name of the project advisor will be included in the commencement program;

2. the student’s name, the title of the project, and Recognition will be indicated on the student’s transcript;

3. a copy of the final product, in its appropriate form as determined by department or program, will be preserved in the library.

b. The following are the criteria and procedures to be fulfilled for a project to receive Recognition:

1. The student must be enrolled in Senior Research 452 or parallel 8-credit research sequence as determined by department or program.

2. The student must successfully complete a year-long Senior Research project or Senior Creative project (which could be done either in a fall-spring semester sequence or a summer-senior semester sequence in cases where the department or program approves of this option).

3. The project must be integrally connected to the student’s major and the project must be advised by a faculty member either in the student’s major or approved by the chair of the major.

4. Each final product must be evaluated by at least one faculty member other than the project advisor. The student, in consultation with the advisor, will secure a second evaluator by February 1 (or the following work day if February 1st falls on a weekend).

5. The student must declare to the major department/program and to the Registrar the intention to submit a final product as the result of the year-long Project no later than February 1 (or the following work day if February 1st falls on a weekend) of the senior year. This declaration will require the signatures of the project advisor, the second evaluator, and the chair of the department/program.

6. The final product must be submitted to the project advisor and second evaluator no later than three weeks before the last day of classes, by a date to be determined by the Registrar.

7. Final products submitted after the deadline will not receive Recognition by the means described below.

8. The final grade for the eight-credit project (or four-credit project in case of a summer-semester sequence, in cases where the department/program approves of this option) will be submitted by the advisor in consultation with the other evaluator.

9. Both the advisor and the second evaluator will assign a grade to the final product. A final product will be judged to merit Recognition if both the advisor and other evaluator give it a B or above, and at least one of the grades is a B+ or above. (These grades of the final product are separate from the grade for the eight [or four] credits submitted by the advisor for the project, as described in B-8 above).

10. A form indicating the final product grades and signed by the project advisor, the second evaluator, and the department/program chair must be submitted to the Registrar no later than the Monday of commencement week.

c. Departments and programs will determine the guidelines governing the design and execution of the project. Departments and programs may establish minimum requirements for students to undertake a project.

d. The Registrar will provide to the Director of the Library a list indicating which projects have merited Recognition. The Director or Chair of each relevant department or program will be responsible for ensuring that a copy of the final product, in its appropriate form as determined by department/program, is delivered to the Director of the Library.

Note 1: If a project follows a summer-senior semester sequence, the Registrar will adjust the dates accordingly.

Note 2: Appropriate adjustments will be made in the case of a project that is part of an independently designed major.

8. ​Regulations Governing the Last Week of Classes

No final examinations (i.e., cumulative examinations having a significant impact on a student's final grade) or major papers given in lieu of a final examination may be given during the last week of classes; final examinations may be given only during the time period assigned by the Registrar. Travel plans are not acceptable excuses for requesting a change in the final exam schedule. The final exam schedule is normally posted at the pre-registration time and at the beginning of the term, and should be consulted when making travel plans. Contact the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs for interpretation of this regulation.

9. Final Grades

All faculty members are required to submit a final evaluation for every student officially enrolled in their courses. Grades are submitted electronically to the Registrar's Office on the dates specified in the calendar. Final grades may be changed only as a result of an error in computation. All other cases involving a final grade change require the consent of the Academic Standing Board.

10. Guidelines for Departmental Assistants

In reviewing information gathered from faculty and departments concerning the employment of students, and wishing to establish guidelines that reflect both the needs and concerns of the university, Academic Affairs Council offers the following guidelines.

Given the broad nature of the employment of students as assistants to departments and faculty members, and with the understanding that such duties should preclude any major evaluative or teaching responsibility, it is proposed that the general title of “Departmental Assistants” is preferable as a description of such student responsibilities.

The University then would distinguish students as either “Departmental Assistants” or “Departmental Fellows.” The following guidelines should be used in the case of those students who are selected as Departmental Assistants or Departmental Fellows and who are employed to perform certain duties as a result of that selection. In addition, a third category of “Teaching Practicum” is set forth as a possibility for students to gain academic credit for doing work relating to the profession of teaching.

There are three general areas in which students may participate in the professional work of faculty and departments:

a. Departmental Assistants

  • The primary duties of a Departmental Assistant will be in the form of assistance, i.e., assisting departments and faculty in various activities that support the academic and research aspects of the university. Duties should be limited to the support of departments and faculty (e.g. lab assistants, discussion leaders, research assistants, tutoring and help sessions, secretarial and clerical support, etc.), and in no way should students assume the primary responsibilities of the faculty for teaching and grading. Students, however, may contribute to the objective evaluation of minor course work under the supervision of faculty (e.g. grading multiple choice tests, or checking the appropriate completion of lab notebooks or daily homework assignments), but students should not be in a position of making subjective evaluations of course work (e.g. grading essays or papers, or evaluating contributions to a discussion). In any case, to the greatest degree possible the anonymity of the student being evaluated must be preserved. Students should never be allowed to enter grades in a grade book, nor be in any position that would permit knowledge of the overall record of any student in a course.
  • There should be training and supervision appropriate to each student's responsibilities. Students should be selected according to written guidelines established by each department or program. It is expected that such qualifications require students to show good academic standing and responsible character. Furthermore, the guidelines should include provisions for review and evaluation of the students employed by the departments and faculty.
  • Students employed by departments and faculty should be given financial support, since the primary activity or purpose is assistance; academic credit is not appropriate and should not be associated with payment for services rendered to departments or faculty. Where financial support may be problematic (e.g. student athletes under NCAA restrictions), the department or faculty member must bring the case before Academic Affairs for review and approval. In all cases, students should never be allowed the option of choosing either academic credit or money as payment for employment.

b. Departmental Fellows

  • Departmental Fellows are selected to emphasize recognition of a student's work, i.e., outstanding achievement in a particular area of study. In many cases, this honor will not necessarily involve employment by faculty or departments. If employment is involved, however, the description of duties, selection, review, and remuneration for Departmental Assistants will be applicable.

c. Teaching Practicum

  • A student enrolled in a Teaching Practicum should be interested in education, i.e., learning about the teaching profession through participation in the academic process under the close supervision of the faculty. If part of a student's work within the practicum is related to assisting a faculty member in the teaching and grading of students in another course, the guidelines established for Departmental Assistants in those areas will be applicable.
  • A Teaching Practicum should be considered similar to any other course offered by a department and meet the same demands of academic rigor. As with any course, it must be submitted to the university's governance system for approval.

All departments and programs should submit a copy of their written guidelines for review by Academic Affairs Council. (Academic Affairs Council, March 1989).

11. Role of Department Chairs

All members of departments share responsibility for sustaining a culture that is rigorous in scholarship, imaginative in pedagogy, visionary in curriculum design, and collegial in spirit. The chair is the convener of the department and is responsible for leading colleagues toward fulfillment of these responsibilities. Given departmental differences in size, equipment needs, personalities, and budget complexities, the form of oversight by chairs of human and physical resources will likely exhibit a healthy variety in the approaches they adopt to fulfill their mission. The chair takes the lead in and coordinates the full range of departmental activities, including those listed below. Chairs should also consult the Chair’s Handbook.


1. Oversee the process by which the department prepares course schedules each semester that reflect the needs of the University, the goals of the department, and the concerns of both faculty and students.

2. In consultation with colleagues create and then administer the department's budget.

3. Supervise support staff and ensure that student workers are used productively and creatively.

4. Meet with students as needed to address issues that an advisor may not be able to resolve, such as transfer of credit in the major, plans for off-campus study, mediating student concerns about department matters, etc.

5. Represent the department within the University and to a wider constituency when appropriate.

6. In consultation with the Provost, identify for the Development Office special needs of the department for resources.

7.Encourage the department to reflect on the processes it uses as a department to do its work.


1. Promote regular conversation among departmental colleagues concerning the quality of the department's teaching, research, and other contributions to the University.

2. Fulfill roles prescribed by the faculty handbook for faculty contract renewal, tenure, promotion and senior reviews.

3. Communicate University expectations regarding promotion and tenure, consult at regular intervals with colleagues concerning their teaching and research agendas and performance, and support colleagues in their pursuit of appropriate opportunities for development of both teaching and scholarship.

4. Present staffing needs as determined by the department to the Provost.

5. Lead efforts to recruit faculty for the department.


1. Stimulate discussions that review at regular intervals the nature and quality of departmental offerings and requirements.

2. Develop with colleagues means of assessing the effectiveness of the program in relation to student interest and performance.

3. Advocate forms of research and off-campus studies that enrich students' academic experience.

4. Seek opportunities for the department to support University-wide programs when developing its course offerings and staffing plans.

5. Assess the adequacy of physical and staff resources in relation to curriculum.

Selection and Appointment of Department Chairs

Department chairs are appointed by the Provost in consultation with the department's faculty. The term of the appointment is normally three years. Chairs may serve successive terms. If a department chair becomes unable or unwilling to serve, or in cases when conflicts within a department have become irreconcilable, the Provost may appoint a new chair or make other temporary arrangements for departmental leadership before the expiration of the term. In the third year of a department chair's term, the Provost consults with the members of the department whether the chair is willing to, and should, continue.