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Absence from Campus During the Academic Year

(written August 3, 2001; modified August 12, 2010)

By publishing a list of class meetings in the Schedule of Classes and issuing a course syllabus, each faculty member enters into an agreement with his or her students as to when class is held. Although it is each faculty member’s responsibility to meet those scheduled classes, a faculty member may, on occasion, need to cancel one or more scheduled class meetings for professional reasons, for illness or emergency medical/family care, and for inclement weather.

A. Absences for Professional Reasons

While teaching duties are paramount among the many responsibilities of a faculty member at DePauw, there are occasional conflicts between classes as originally scheduled and valuable professional activities. Because faculty members are encouraged to maintain active professional lives, occasional absences from class to complete professional activities are acceptable.

As a matter of good practice, a faculty member should limit his or her absences for professional reasons to no more than one week's worth of class meetings in each course. Longer absences should be approved in advance by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Planning for professional absences should be done well in advance, and students should be notified of the faculty member's absence as soon as possible. When feasible, and when needed to complete the work of the course, the faculty member should make arrangements with students and/or colleagues for alternative assignments, alternative coverage of class meetings, or both. Such arrangements should be made if the absence exceeds one week’s worth of classes.

As a matter of professional support and encouragement, faculty members are urged to provide assistance to each other by covering a colleague’s missing classes for professional reasons.

B. Illness, Emergency Medical and Family Care Reasons for Absences

Occasionally a faculty member must cancel class because he or she is ill, has a personal medical emergency, or has unanticipated family care obligations. In such cases, the faculty member should promptly inform students of his or her absence and, if feasible, provide alternative learning activities for the students. When possible, the department chair, school dean, or program director will work with faculty colleagues to provide coverage for their missed classes.

If family or personal medical emergencies require a faculty member to miss three or more consecutive days, he or she must complete appropriate paperwork available from the Human Resources Office. If personal medical emergencies or problems require an absence of five or more consecutive days, the faculty member must present medical evidence documenting his or her illness. In this case the faculty member may not return to work unless medical clearance is provided by a physician to the Office of Human Resources and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

C. Inclement Weather

It is the policy of the University to remain open during periods of severe weather; however, the University recognizes that because of hazardous conditions, some faculty members may find it difficult to report to work. If a faculty member cannot report to work because of inclement weather, he or she should promptly report this to the department’s chair, the school’s dean, or the program’s director.

D. Reporting Missed Classes and Obtaining Approval for Extended Absences

In addition to promptly reporting class absences to his or her students, the faculty member should notify his or her department chair or school dean of the absence and of the arrangements for covering the class. A faculty member who finds that he or she must cancel classes at the last minute may ask the department’s, school’s, or program’s secretary to post a notice in the classroom to the students announcing that the class is canceled; such absences also should be promptly reported to the department chair. A faculty member who needs to miss more than one week's worth of classes for any course should first discuss this need with the Vice President for Academic Affairs before completing arrangements. If, as a result of unplanned absences, a faculty member misses as much as one week's worth of classes, he or she should report this to the Vice President for Academic Affairs along with a summary of how the absences were covered.

E. Making Up Canceled Classes

A faculty member should endeavor to make up any canceled classes by rescheduling them or by arranging for appropriate alternative activities. Because students have other academic and non-academic obligations, it is not appropriate for a faculty member to require students to attend rescheduled class meetings or activities that meet outside the course’s scheduled time bank. Any required make-up classes, activities or alternate assignments must include a sufficient number of options so that all students can reasonably complete the requirement. Make-up classes may not meet on the designated study day between the end of classes and the final examination period, or during the final examination period.

F. Discretionary Personal Absences

A faculty member should schedule discretionary activities, such as doctor's appointments and meetings with colleagues and students, so that they do not conflict with his or her scheduled classes.