Dec 07, 2022  
2021-2022 Faculty Handbook 
    
2021-2022 Faculty Handbook [FINAL EDITION]

Section IV- Faculty Obligations, Responsibilities, and Commitments


4. Faculty Obligations, Responsibilities, and Commitments

4.1. Obligations

4.1.1.Academic Year

The formal academic year begins with the opening university-wide meeting and concludes at the end of commencement ceremonies. All faculty are expected to attend both events unless excused by their school or college dean or library director. Teaching faculty may, within their contractual relationship, be asked to participate in planning activities before the opening meeting or following commencement, but within a nine-month period. All grades must be submitted before the end of the academic year.

4.1.2. General Duties and Responsibilities of the Teaching Faculty

Within the framework established here, the specific duties and responsibilities of the individual faculty members at Widener University are determined by the deans of the schools and colleges in consultation with the faculty. Such specific duties and responsibilities are contained in the individual school and college bylaws or school and college faculty handbooks. The duties and responsibilities here described apply to all full-time teaching faculty, day or evening, at the undergraduate or graduate level. They do not apply to faculty whose primary responsibility is provision of library or administrative services. In the case of librarians, specific duties and responsibilities are determined by the appropriate library director, in consultation with the library faculty.

4.1.3. Faculty Assignments

Individual faculty assignments are made semi-annually after consultation between the faculty members and their department chairs or heads/division associate deans and reviewed by the school or college deans. For librarians, individual faculty assignments are made after consultation between the faculty members and their department heads where such a position exists and is reviewed by the library director or, if no department head exists, after consultation with the library director. The purpose of the individual faculty assignment is to ensure that responsibilities are apportioned in a balanced way that reflects the individual member’s expertise and the university’s needs. As far as possible, individual faculty assignments should take into account the faculty members’ particular qualifications and their programs of professional development. Faculty are responsible for carrying out satisfactorily the duties they have agreed to by the terms of their individual faculty assignments.

4.2. Responsibilities

4.2.1. Teaching - Primary Responsibility

The primary responsibility of the faculty is teaching.  General teaching loads are determined by institutional policy, as established by the Board of Trustees in consultation with faculty representatives, in keeping with AAUP practices, and by policy of the schools and colleges as established by the school and college deans in consultation with the faculty and as approved by the provost. Specific loads and assignments are determined by deans in consultation with faculty under their direction.

4.2.1.1. Course Offerings and Content

All course offerings shall be in accord with the general requirements of Widener University, the needs of the department/division majors, and the needs of the student body. Each instructor is responsible for planning and presenting the assigned course material; establishing course requirements and making them known to students; recommending texts or other materials; preparing, administering, and grading papers or examinations; relating and explaining examination grades to students in a timely fashion; and assigning grades.

4.2.1.2. Interaction with Students

Faculty shall interact with students outside the classroom. Student advising, meeting with prospective students on campus, and sponsorship of student activities shall be arranged by the school and college deans in consultation with faculty members involved. Faculty are expected to schedule a minimum of five office hours per week.

4.2.1.3. Normal Teaching Loads

The university establishes uniform teaching loads by categories. Within these categories the dean of the school or college determines the specific teaching load of the individual faculty member.

4.2.1.4. Overload

Under normal circumstances a maximum overload of one course per semester is permitted during the regular academic year. Exceptions are made for combinations of teaching and non-teaching overloads, e.g., a faculty member teaching an evening course as an overload may also serve as an evening counselor. Academic administrators should be paid for overloads during the regular academic year provided they teach at least six hours as part of their regular load. Deans may teach voluntarily on an unpaid overload basis.

4.2.2. Participation in Governance

Faculty are expected to participate in institutional governance, as described in the Faculty Council Bylaws and in their relevant school/college/library bylaws. They are also expected to serve on such additional committees as may be established from time to time by the faculty or by the administration.

4.2.3.Professional Development

Faculty are expected to engage in professional development. Evidence of continued professional development is required for promotion. The university shall foster the proper climate for such development through its policy on sabbaticals and by assisting faculty in securing grants, fellowships, etc.

4.3. Academic Freedom

It is fundamental to the health of an academic institution and ultimately to the health of a society at large that individual persons and groups of persons exercise their responsibility and freedom to search for the truth and to speak the truth as it is discovered. In a collegial community, the university, the faculty, the administration, and the student body bear mutual responsibility to exercise professional competence and to extend to one another the trust and respect which foster an environment for the exercise of academic freedom. Widener University endorses the principles of academic freedom.

4.4. Professional Ethics and Conflicts of Interest

4.4.1. Guidance and Consultation

Academic administrators at all levels are available for advance consultation with respect to potential conflicts of interest. The university expects faculty and staff members to seek advice from these sources.

4.4.2. Code of Professional Ethics

Widener University believes that the “Statement on Professional Ethics” promulgated by the American Association of University Professors in April of 1966 serves as a useful reminder of the variety of obligations assumed by all members of the academic profession.

Since all faculty members should strive to make these recognized standards of the profession an integral part of their professional and personal lives, the guiding principles of AAUP’s “Statement on Professional Ethics” as revised in 2009 are quoted below in abbreviated form.

The Statement:

  1. Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.
  2. As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.
  3. As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.
  4. As members of an academic institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although professors observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. Professors give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, professors recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.
  5. As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

4.4.3. External Activities  

The university encourages consulting and other outside activities of a professional nature where such activities give the faculty member experience and knowledge valuable to professional growth and development. These activities may help the faculty make worthy contributions to knowledge, or contribute to their instructional programs, or otherwise make a positive contribution to the university or the community. While faculty are encouraged to engage in such activities, these activities shall be subordinate to the faculty’s teaching, advising, research, and service responsibilities. No outside service or enterprise, professional or other, should be undertaken that interferes with the faculty member’s primary responsibility to the university as defined in Sections 4.1. and 4.2.

4.4.4. Consulting 

External consulting shall not exceed an average of eight hours per work week and must not interfere with classes or other faculty obligations.

4.4.5. Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of interest with those of the university shall be avoided in all cases. Such conflicts of interest occur whenever faculty members are in a situation in which the prospect of direct or indirect pecuniary gain for the faculty members or members of their families could influence the employees’ judgment or action in the conduct of university business. In any instance where a conflict of interest may arise, the faculty members shall consult with their school or college deans or library director for guidance.

4.4.6. Use of University Facilities and Services

Except for the use of assigned office space and available library services, faculty must obtain written approval of their department chair/head or division associate dean and school or college dean or library director in order to use university facilities in connection with outside activities. In all cases, faculty members or their outside employers or sponsors will pay the rate established by the university for the use of the facility or equipment. For use of secretarial services, see Section 5.4.5.  

4.4.7. Use of the University Name and Seal

The university’s name and seal are the exclusive property of the university and shall not be used without the prior permission of the appropriate school or college dean. Faculty members publish a considerable number of reports in the form of bulletins, circulars, scientific articles, monographs, and books, some of which are copyrighted and others of which are not. The university’s name, seal, or official stationery may not be used in connection with outside activities except academic and scholarly activities.

4.4.8.Political Activity

Faculty members, as citizens, are free to engage in political activities. Any faculty members who wish to engage in direct political activity that will involve a substantial amount of time may request a leave of absence from their immediate academic supervisors. The terms of such leave of absence shall be set forth in writing, and the leave will not affect adversely the tenure status of a faculty member, except that time spent on such leave will not count as probationary service unless otherwise agreed to in writing prior to the commencement of the leave.

4.4.9.Teaching Members of Immediate Family

Faculty members should avoid having members of their immediate families enroll as students in their classes. Exceptions will be made only if the course is required for the student’s program and if there is no possibility of the student’s enrolling in the course with a different instructor.

4.4.10. Employment Policy on Nepotism

No faculty member may supervise or participate in the hiring of family members. No faculty member may participate in the promotion, tenure, retention, or appeals of a family member, or in any adjudicatory ruling involving a family member. No faculty member may be involved in decisions about grants, awards, or sabbaticals affecting a family member.

“Family Member” includes a spouse, parent, parent-in-law, child, child-in-law, sibling, sibling-in-law or domestic partner of a university employee, and anyone with like status by virtue of adoption or marriage (e.g., stepchildren, stepparents). For the purposes of this document “university employee” includes all full-time faculty and all full-time library faculty, regardless of rank, appointment, or tenure status.

4.5. Violations of Rights, Academic Freedom, and Ethics

Disputes involving a charge that a faculty member’s rights or academic freedom have been abrogated or that professional ethics have not been maintained are to be settled through the established Grievance Procedures (Section VII- Grievance ). While affirming academic freedom as a right, Widener University recognizes that, in some circumstances, questions of academic freedom may become enmeshed in questions of professional incompetence or irresponsibility. In an effort to distinguish between these sometimes confused issues, the guiding principle is that charges of professional incompetence or irresponsibility shall not be used to limit academic freedom, nor shall appeals to academic freedom be acceptable as a shield for professional incompetence or irresponsibility.