The CLAS Teacher, Jan. 2016







The CLAS Teacher

January 2016


Why Am I Getting This Newsletter?

Visitors, Affiliates, and Part Time Faculty are important to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and have told us they would like a streamlined source of important information so that they can perform well and get the most out of their experience in CLAS.  Expect this newsletter to arrive before the start of Fall and Winter terms.


Syllabus construction with an eye toward student success

We all know that a complete and informative syllabus can help set a productive tone for the course.  It also can help minimize potential headaches for you and your students, as well as your department chair and your Dean (as in, with student grievances or academic misconduct issues).  The Faculty Handbook (Information Given Class at First Meeting, 3.01.H.1) and a white paper by Pew FTLC are two great resources for syllabus construction.  A recent white paper by FTLC may be found here:

As presented in the Faculty Handbook, a complete syllabus includes essential information, such as prerequisites, instructor’s contact information and office hours, and required texts/materials. 

Students also appreciate supplemental information, such as a (tentative) outline of topics, an exam/assignment schedule, and special class procedures (e.g., Blackboard). 

Finally, the aforementioned FTLC white paper also gives examples of important policy statements that a complete syllabus should include.  Many of these appear below, but the following list includes two that are NEW as of Fall 2015 or Winter 2016: 

•             Policy with regard to student absences

•             Disabilities Support Resources statement (reminding students that they bear the responsibility to register with DSR for test accommodations and to notify their instructors for the need of such accommodations)

•             Academic integrity/plagiarism policy statement (examples can be found at: )

•             Pertinent General Education or Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS) information

•             NEW as of Fall 2015:  Fire/emergency statement.  (Example:  “Fire: Immediately proceed to the nearest exit during a fire alarm. Do not use elevators.”)  For more details, see 8/20/15 email by Sgt. William O’Donnell, GVSU Police Dept., concerning state legislation on fire safety requirements at all Michigan universities.

•             NEW as of Winter 2016:  Appropriate use of email and computing (see CLAS weekly mailing from 10/27/15 for details of recent policy changes)

•             Other “netiquette” expectations—use of personal devices during class, email etiquette, etc.


Midterm Grading Reminder

As the academic calendar lists, Feb. 22-26 is midterm evaluation week. This means that midterm grades will need to be reported in the Banner grading system by March 1 before noon.

This is an important student support process. Midterm grades are required for all freshmen, transfers with less than 24 credit hours, and for undergraduate students classified as less than good standing. Only those students who require a midterm grade will be listed on the Banner grade sheet so please be sure to check Banner, after you get notice from Records that the grading system is open, to see if there are students in your courses who need a midterm grade.  



Student Conduct Issues

This announcement is intended as a friendly reminder that the Dean of Students Office has launched a website ,, that provides a single portal for filing a variety of incidents that involve student conduct issues, such as:  academic integrity violations, bias incidents, and other student code infractions.  You will also find information on dealing with distressed or disruptive students, as well as other valuable resources and "quick links" to related issues of academic integrity and student behavior.  Please feel free to contact Aaron Haight, Assistant Dean of Students, with questions or comments about the online referral system.



End of Term in a Nutshell

Q. How do I find out when my final occurs? 

A.  Please see:

Q. Must I have a culminating experience?

A. Yes. As a reminder, University policy states that all classes must meet for a culminating experience during final exam week, on the appropriate scheduled exam day and time. In the event that the course structure involves a take home final or is an online course, the due date for submission of this exam should be the scheduled exam day and time. Both the Provost and the Dean expect compliance with this policy. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Q. What’s the inclement weather policy?

A. For details on criteria for weather-related cancellation or closure, as well as how affected final exams will be rescheduled, please see:

Q. When are final grades due?

A. All grades MUST be entered in Banner by noon on Tuesday, May 3.  Please plan to enter final grades prior to noon and leave contact information with your unit’s office in the event of a missing grade or grades.  Awarding an “I” (incomplete) includes filling out an electronic form in addition to entering the grade.  (A copy of the form, which itself includes detailed instructions, may be found here:

Q. Why should grades be posted prior to the deadline? 

A. Grades must be run by the Records Office by the end of the business day on May 4.  This process takes hours to complete.  Missing grades can impact students’ academic standing, financial aid, and more. Sometimes grades are inadvertently missed—the most frequent grade reporting error is omission of last date of academic activity (LDAA) for a failing (“F”) grade.  Failure to complete these requirements erases all grades that you entered for that course—not just the one requiring LDAA.  

The online grade submission process has a hard deadline of 12 noon on Tuesday, May, 3, 2016.  

Q. What happens when grades are not entered?  

A. Missing grades (appearing as “NR” on student grade reports) will cause future headaches for instructors because change-of-grade forms will need to be completed individually, one for each student.  Moreover, missing grades will cause headaches for students due to potential loss of academic standing, which in turn could negatively impact their financial aid and/or their registration for subsequent classes.

Some important notes for instructors at grades submission time:

Instructors:    Please double-check that for each student receiving a grade of “F” or “NC” (no credit) you also enter the last date of academic activity (LDAA).  If the LDAA is left blank, the grades for all of the students that you entered during that Banner session will not be saved.  

Please double-check that you have entered grades for ALL students.  Instructors have sometimes neglected to “page down” through their entire roster on Banner and hence did not enter grades for the last couple of students on the list.

Please provide phone contact information (not just e-mail) to your department staff in the event of a missing grade. 

 Thank you in advance for your role in assuring that grades submission is an accurate, timely process!  Please feel free to contact Assistant Dean Brad Ambrose with any questions or concerns. 



Planning Ahead for Fall 2016—the Fall Breather

While you are prepping your classes, we invite you to participate in the Fall Breather. As Dean Antczak explains, “I invite faculty, as they are laying out their fall 2016 syllabi, to plan to give no reading, no assignments, no homework for the weekend before the drop deadline (Oct. 28), that is October 22 and 23, 2016   I am not suggesting that you take any time away from class, nor even that you decrease by an iota the amount of work in the fall course.  I’m simply asking you to redistribute it, so that for that weekend across as many courses as possible, there’s no assigned work.  I’m asking for a specific weekend because distributing it on different weekends would dilute its effect.”

Students have no fall break and tell us that the Breather helps them to catch up, make better decisions about whether or not to drop a class, address issues of home-sickness, and generally recharge their batteries.



Important Dates

Date      Calendar Item   Comment

Jan.11   Classes begin       

Jan. 14 Science on Tap: What we have learned from Martian Robots?


Jan. 14 Music-- at 7:30 p.m. GVSU alumnus, violinist Andrew Uhe, performs in recital. Sherman Van Solkema Recital Hall, PAC                

Jan. 15 Measuring moments in cyanobacterial ecology – using big data to deal with big blooms


Jan. 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day recess No Classes


Excerpts From Twilight Los Angeles: 1992



Jan. 21 CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium



Jan. 27 Music-- at 12 Noon. Arts at Noon Series. Grand Valley Winds. Cook-DeWitt Center.           

Feb. 5    Theatre--Godspell


Feb. 11 Darwin Day (Conference)               

Feb. 18 CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium


Feb. 21 GREAT AMERICAN VOICES SERIES Collaboration Concert


Feb. 24 Rubén Martínez (reading & book signing)               

Mar. 1   Midterm Grades due from Faculty           By noon!

Mar. 6-13             Spring Break         

Mar. 17                 CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium


Mar. 21                  Synoptic Lecture on graphic visualization by Amanda Cox, Graphic Editor at the New York Times                   

Mar. 28                 Jericho Brown (reading & book signing)                   

Apr. 1    Theatre--Six Characters in Search of an Author


Apr. 6    CLAS Sabbatical Showcase and Spring Celebration


Apr. 13 Student Scholars Day


Apr. 23 Classes end          

Apr. 25-30           Examinations & Semester Ends

Culminating experience in all courses!     Final schedule.

Apr. 30 Commencement


May 3    Grades due from faculty               By noon!  Banner and Black-board close at this time