Academic Policies - Undergraduate
To be eligible for a baccalaureate degree from the University, a student must meet the following:
- College readiness requirements
- Core curriculum requirements
- School or college major requirements
The Core curriculum requirements apply to all students who entered the University beginning September 1982 and thereafter. Transfer students should refer to the section, "Transfer Credits and the USM Core."
College Readiness Requirements
The University has defined measures of college readiness in writing and math. All students must demonstrate college readiness in these subjects. Some courses at other institutions may be used to meet the college readiness requirements in math or writing; please consult the Transfer Affairs office for specifics. These requirements can also be met through CLEP scores; consult the office of Prior Learning Assessment for an evaluation.
In math, students can demonstrate college readiness by any ONE of the following measures:
- An SAT Quantitative score of 570 or above
- An ACT Math score of 22 or above
- A passing score on the mathematics placement examination
- A grade of C- or better in MAT 101 (4 credits)
Students whose first language is not English can demonstrate college readiness by any ONE of the following measures:
- An SAT Writing score of 500 or above
- A TOEFL score of 79 or above
Non-native speakers of English whose writing falls below these measures must complete ESL 104 Reading, Writing & Vocabulary, with a grade of C or better (and any prerequisite courses based on the ESOL Program's placement test). To complete their Core writing requirement, these students must then move on to ESL 100 College Writing.
|001-099||Developmental/No Degree Credit|
|400-499||Senior Level others by permission|
|500-599||Undergraduate and Graduate Students|
|600-799||Graduate and Professional Students Only|
- All courses with number 100 or greater carry credit and quality points toward a baccalaureate degree.
- Matriculated baccalaureate students should not register for courses with numbers less than 100 unless meeting minimum proficiency requirements.
The Registrar, in the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services, serves as the legal custodian of University academic records and is responsible for the appropriate recording, production, and disbursement of those records. The Office is also responsible for recording such critical functions as academic honors, sanctions, and dismissals. The Office of Registration and Scheduling Services is located in Bailey Hall on the Gorham campus, (207) 780-5230. Registration services are also available in Luther Bonney Hall on the Portland campus and at Lewiston-Auburn College, (207) 753-6500.
The registration process is conducted by Registration and Scheduling Services, Advising, and many academic departments. It includes acknowledgement of financial responsibility, selection of courses, completion of any necessary forms, and payment of University charges. Newly admitted students are notified by Orientation and Transitional Programs of their appointment for academic orientation, advising, and registration. Advising coordinates the new student academic advising process and initiates the registration procedure by approving course schedules.
- Continuing degree students may advance register in priority order, based on credits earned and class level. Advance registration is conducted in early November for the Spring term; early March for the Summer term; and early April for the Fall term. Degree students may need to obtain advisor approval prior to registration. No student may register for more than 18 credits in one semester without the permission of his or her advisor and the dean.
- Non-matriculated (non-degree-seeking) students may register only during the open registration period which follows the advance registration period.
Undergraduate students are considered to be full-time if they are enrolled for 12 or more credits; three-quarter time requires at least 9 credits; and half-time requires at least 6 credits.
Grades at the University are given in terms of letters, with the option of a plus or minus designation (with the exception of A+), representing levels of achievement. The basis for determining a grade is the relative extent to which the student has achieved the objectives of the course. The student's work in each course is graded as follows:
|C||Satisfactory, successful meeting of the course objectives|
|D||Low-level work, below the average required for graduation for an undergraduate, and a failing grade for a graduate student. In addition, individual departments may limit the number of D grades accepted, as stated in the departmental sections of this catalog. The paragraphs on Minimum Grade and Academic Suspension and Repeated Courses should also be noted.|
|F||Failure to meet the course objectives|
|P||Pass; pass with a grade of C- or better in a pass/fail course|
|H||High performance in a pass/fail course|
|LP||Low Pass; pass with a grade of D-, D, or D+ in a pass/fail course|
|I||Incomplete; a temporary grade given, agreed upon by instructor and student, in extraordinary circumstances when the student has failed to complete the course requirements. Incomplete grades must be resolved by the end of each subsequent (fall or spring) semester. If the incomplete is not resolved by the end of the subsequent semester, it will be converted to an F.|
|INC||Permanent Incomplete; When a temporary incomplete (I) grade is not resolved to a normal letter grade, a permanent incomplete may be assigned in extraordinary circumstances as determined by the instructor and the dean. In unusual circumstances wherein the faculty member is no longer available, the dean may exercise this function. The grade of INC has no impact on GPA; no credits awarded.|
|L||Stopped attending; The grade of L may be assigned to students who stopped attending a course without officially dropping the course. The grade of L will be computed as an F for purposes of the student's grade point average.|
|MG||Missing Grade; Faculty may fail to submit a grade for a particular student in a course. In these cases, the Registrar will note this act by designating a missing grade, or MG. Missing Grades must be resolved by the end of each semester. If the missing grade is not resolved, it will be converted to an F.|
|W||Withdrawal after the end of the drop period through 60% of a course. If a student has not officially withdrawn before 60% of the course has been completed, an F will be assigned. The W notation may be obtained after completion of 60% of the course under unusual circumstances if so determined by the instructor and the dean. A threat of failure is not considered to be an unusual circumstance. The grade of W has no impact on GPA.|
|DG||Satisfactory progress after one semester of a two-semester course; grade and credits to be given upon completion of second semester.|
|AU||Student attended courses on a noncredit basis.|
The academic standing of each student is computed by the Registrar at the end of every semester. The following table represents the rating scale:
|A||4.00 grade points per credit hour|
|A–||3.67 grade points per credit hour|
|B+||3.33 grade points per credit hour|
|B||3.00 grade points per credit hour|
|B–||2.67 grade points per credit hour|
|C+||2.33 grade points per credit hour|
|C||2.00 grade points per credit hour|
|C–||1.67 grade points per credit hour|
|D+||1.33 grade points per credit hour|
|D||1.00 grade points per credit hour|
|D–||0.67 grade points per credit hour|
|F||0.00 grade points per credit hour|
To compute the grade point average for a semester, first multiply the grade points earned in each course by the number of credit hours assigned to that course. The resulting product is the number of quality points for that course. Then divide the total number of quality points earned during the semester by the total number of credits carried in that semester (exclude classes where grades are P, H, LP, I and W). The result is carried out to two decimal places to produce the grade point average for that semester.
To compute the cumulative grade point average, divide the total quality points earned by the total credits attempted in all semesters.
A credit hour is defined as one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and no less than two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time.
At the end of the fall and spring semesters, full-time, undergraduate degree students (12 credit hours or more, with a minimum of 12 letter graded credits A-F), and excluding developmental credits with course numbers less than 100, with grade point average of 3.6 or above will be placed on the Dean's List. Students with incomplete or missing grades (I or MG) at the point when the Dean's List is produced (approximately 35 days after the end of a fall or spring semester) will not be eligible for the Dean's List. A notation will be made on the transcript of those who earn the Dean's List distinction. Those students on the Dean's List whose names appear in the public directory of the University will have their names released to the news media.
Students who attend both the fall and the spring semesters as part-time degree students and who meet the above full-time Dean's List criteria when the fall and spring semesters are combined are eligible for the academic year Dean's List at the end of the spring semester. A notation will be made on the transcript of those who earn the academic year Dean's List distinction.
Minimum cumulative grade point averages for all undergraduate programs at the University are as follows:
|For Good Standing||For Probationary Standing|
|0-30 credit hours||1.70||1.50|
|31-60 credit hours||1.80||1.60|
|61-90 credit hours||1.90||1.70|
|91 or more credit hours||2.00||1.80|
Students may be suspended from the University by the dean of the appropriate academic unit. Students who have two consecutive semesters of probationary standing may be suspended at the discretion of the dean. Ordinarily, a student may be suspended by the dean in consultation with the department chair or the student's advisor if the student's semester average falls below 1.0. While under suspension, students may not take coursework, either at the University of Southern Maine or at other institutions, to be applied for credit at the University of Southern Maine without permission of the dean of the suspending academic unit. Academic suspensions are imposed for a length of one academic semester. Other standards vary from college to college and are outlined in the letter of suspension directed to the student from the appropriate dean. For details concerning disciplinary suspension and dismissal, consult the Student Conduct Code.
Matriculated degree candidates are eligible for re-enrollment at the University in accordance with the stipulations outlined in their letter of suspension. Unless noted otherwise in the letter of suspension, the student has the right to re-enroll after one semester.
A student who is a degree candidate is expected to complete and pass the courses for which he or she is registered during a given semester. A student who fails or withdraws from more than two courses during a semester may be placed on academic probation or suspended by the dean of the college, school, or division.
A student placed on academic suspension for a second time may be dismissed from the University. In rare cases, a student may be readmitted if he or she can provide evidence of significant academic improvement to the dean of the school or college from which they were dismissed. Such evidence would normally include high quality academic coursework at another institution. For details of disciplinary dismissal, consult the Student Conduct Code.
Students who are pursuing degrees leading to application for professional licensure or certification, and/or who will be participating in clinical placements, internships, or practica through their USM program should be aware that their host facility may require a criminal background check, fingerprinting, or drug screening. In such situations, each student is responsible for obtaining and paying for the background check or other screening process and for delivering required documentation to the facility. Although the University will make reasonable efforts to place admitted students in field experiences and internships, it will be up to the host facility to determine whether a student will be allowed to work at that facility. Students should further be aware that a criminal record may jeopardize licensure by the state certification body. Students may consult the certification body corresponding to their intended occupation for more details. Successful completion of a program of study at USM does not guarantee licensure, certification, or employment in the relevant occupation.
A non-degree student is any student who is not admitted and enrolled in a USM undergraduate degree program.
Non-degree students may register on a space-available basis for courses providing the student meets the prerequisites for the course. Undergraduate students may take up to 60 credit hours in non-degree status. Before earning 60 credit hours, any non-degree student who intends to earn a degree will need to apply for admission and be admitted to a degree program at USM.
Non-degree students are not eligible for financial aid.
A minimum of 120 credit hours is required for graduation in most baccalaureate-level programs. To progress through the University in the traditional four years, full-time students should earn at least 30 credits each year, carrying at least 15 credit hours each semester or utilizing winter or summer sessions to supplement a fewer-than-15-credit-hour term. Permission must be obtained from the advisor and the appropriate dean to carry more than 18 credit hours in a semester.
For standing as a sophomore, a student shall have completed at least 24 credit hours; for junior standing, 54 credit hours; and for senior standing, 84 credit hours.
Students may self-add courses of twelve or more weeks in length through the end of the first week of the semester, provided that there is space available and the student has satisfied any prerequisites for the class. An instructor's signature, or departmental permission, is required in all situations where the student is unable to self-register. For courses that are less than twelve weeks in length, the add period will be 7% of the class length (one day for each two weeks of the class length).
Students who find that their names are not on the instructor's official list or that a course is not listed on their official schedule in Mainestreet should check immediately with the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services to make necessary corrections to the registration records.
Students may self-drop from a course at any time before the end of the course.
-A drop during the first two weeks of a course that is twelve weeks or more in length (or during the first 14% of the class for classes less than twelve weeks in length) will not be noted on the transcript.
-A drop after the first two weeks of a course that is twelve weeks or more in length through 60% of the course will receive the grade notation of W.
-A drop of a course after the 60% period will receive the grade notation of F.
The W notation may be assigned after 60% of the course has been completed under unusual circumstances if so determined by the instructor and the dean.
All students who register for a course and neither complete the course objectives nor officially withdraw according to any one of the procedures described above will be graded F or an L in that course and must assume all financial obligations associated with the course.
*****Please check your MaineStreet Schedule in the Student Center and click on the icon (Academic Calendar Deadlines) before each class for the exact deadline dates. *****
The purpose of the pass/fail grade option is to encourage a student to broaden his or her educational experience with a reduced risk of lowering the overall grade point average. The instructor will assign pass grades of H (high performance) or P (pass) when a letter grade of C- or better would have been assigned, a grade of LP (low pass) when the letter grade would have been D+, D, or D-. Note that F and L grades earned in pass/fail classes will be included in the grade point average calculation.
Unless otherwise specifically stated in this catalog, courses taken to satisfy Core curriculum, University Honors Program, or major or minor requirements may not be taken on a pass/fail basis. Undergraduate degree candidates may register for a maximum of six hours of pass/fail credits in any one semester, up to a maximum of eighteen hours of the total credit hours required for graduation.
Students may exercise the pass/fail option for a course through the add/drop period (corresponding to no notation on the transcript). Requests after this period must be made through the Dean's office of the school/college offering the course. In general, requests for reversal of the pass/fail option will only be granted if a grade is necessary to meet the student's particular degree requirements. Prior to exercising this option, students are encouraged to contact the instructor of the course.
When a student repeats a course and earns a grade of A, B, C, D, F, H, P, or LP, the initial grade notation remains on the transcript; the later grade is the one used and counted for GPA calculations, credit, and requirements. No course may be repeated more than once without written permission of the dean or director of the appropriate school, college, or division. This policy does not apply to courses specifically designed to be repeated.
Students should complete a Course Condition Form each time they repeat a course. Courses intended to repeat University of Southern Maine courses may be taken at other institutions; such courses will be accepted in accordance with the University's transfer policy. The transferred course accepted as a USM equivalent will receive USM credit but will not be calculated in the GPA; the original USM course that was repeated will remain on the student's transcript but will be removed from both the credit and GPA calculations.
Occasionally, a student's academic performance early in his or her career or due to extenuating life circumstances may not be reflective of academic ability. The Academic Forgiveness Policy allows an undergraduate student the right to request to eliminate up to 15 credit hours that may be negatively impacting overall GPA.
If a request is approved by the Academic Review Committee, the grades and credits for the forgiven courses/semester will remain on the transcript; however, the credits will not accumulate toward graduation nor impact the student’s GPA. Once academic forgiveness is granted, it is not reversible.
In order to be considered, the following criteria must be met:
1) The course(s) or semester of coursework to be forgiven must have been completed at least two (2) years prior to the request for forgiveness and any earned credits to be forgiven must not have been applied to a previously awarded degree.
2) The student has earned at least 30 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0 at USM since completion of the coursework for which forgiveness is sought.
3) The student is a matriculated undergraduate degree candidate in good standing at the time of the request for forgiveness.
4) Forgiveness can only be provided for credits and grades earned at USM.
5) Academic forgiveness can be granted only once and for no more than 15 credit hours.
No tuition or fee refunds shall be made.
If a documented disability precludes successful completion of a particular course required by a degree program or successful completion of Core curriculum requirements, a request for substitution of either the degree program, or most Core curriculum requirements can be initiated by a student. A student may not request that Core area A (writing proficiency) or Core area C (writing competence) be modified. Written communication is considered to be an integral part of the classroom experience and substitution of this requirement would substantially change the nature of the educational preparation and experience at USM. In all requests, the student has the responsibility to provide information supporting the need for a degree program or Core curriculum substitution based upon disability. A copy of the complete policy and procedures statement may be obtained from the Disability Services Center, 242 Luther Bonney, Portland campus, (207) 780-4706; TTY (207) 780-4395 or email@example.com.
Students who register to audit a course receive no academic credit for the course but will have an audit grade (AU) recorded on their transcripts. Audit courses must be declared by the end of the add/drop period. Questions about this policy should be directed to the Office of Registration and Scheduling Services.
Independent study is intended to encourage supervised undergraduate research. With permission of the instructor, junior and senior students may elect independent study related to their major or minor. Normally, no more than 4 credits may be earned in a semester. No more than 12 credits of completed independent study shall be counted toward an undergraduate degree. The student submits an independent study application to the department chair, which includes a detailed description of his or her proposed program of study. The independent study form must be filed with the Registrar before registration will be allowed.
The permanent academic record, including transfer credit evaluation, is maintained by the Registrar for all students of the University. While grades may be reported unofficially to the student, academic dean, and advisor, the only true and valid documentation of academic work and student status is an official transcript of the academic record, stamped with the Registrar's signature and embossed with the seal of the University. The transcript is available only with the signature of the student and will be released to that student or a designee provided there are no outstanding charges against his or her account with Student Financials. Other types of transcripts are: Unofficial—issued Directly to Student, available after grades are posted for that semester; Placement Transcript, provided for the student's placement folder.
Considerable care is taken to ensure that course registration and grades entered on a student's permanent record are accurate. Any student who suspects an error has been made should contact the Registrar immediately. Records are assumed to be correct if a student does not report to the Registrar within one year of the completion of the course. At that time, the record becomes permanent and cannot be changed.
Matriculated students at the University are expected to secure written approval from the appropriate dean prior to taking coursework at another institution. Credit approved for courses taken at other institutions will count toward the total degree hours required but will not be computed in the student's cumulative grade point average. For further information, contact the Transfer Affairs Office.
For all baccalaureate degrees at the University, a minimum of 30 credits hours of the last 45 hours completed, including at least 9 hours in the major field, must be completed while matriculated in the school or college from which the degree is sought. A student may earn no more than 6 of these 30 credit hours at another campus of the University of Maine System. Under extraordinary circumstances and with supporting documentation, students may request a waiver of this requirement from the dean of the school or college from which the degree is sought. Waivers are not automatically granted, and shall not be granted until at least 30 credits hours, including at least 9 hours in the major field, have been completed while matriculated in the school or college from which the degree is sought.
In addition to the minimum requirements of 120 credits for a baccalaureate degree, a candidate must:
(a) receive passing grades in courses required by the University, the school or college, and the major department;
(b) accumulate the number of credit hours required by the school or college in which the student is registered;
(c) achieve an accumulative average grade point average of not less than 2.00 (some majors require a higher GPA for graduation);
(d) meet the requirements of the major department; and
(e) complete an Application for Degree on MaineStreet or with the Office of the Registration and Scheduling Services at the beginning of the semester of graduation.
Responsibility for successfully completing the requirements of the program resides with the student.
Graduation with Latin Honors distinction is based on the student's final GPA at the University of Southern Maine. Students must complete at least 60 credit hours (with a minimum of 45 credit hours graded A through F) at USM in order to qualify. Graduation with distinction categories are (a) at least 3.90 for summa cum laude; (b) at least 3.75 and less than 3.90 for magna cum laude; and (c) at least 3.60 and less than 3.75 for cum laude.
In the event a student meets the graduation with distinction GPA requirement at USM, but fails to meet the 60-credit-hour requirement, distinction will be determined by a calculation of the student's GPA for the last 60 credit hours, wherever they were completed, after all grades are in and it is determined that all requirements have been satisfied.
Honor Cords at Commencement
For purposes of wearing honor cords designating Latin Honors at Commencement (gold cords, summa cum laude; blue cords, magna cum laude; white cords, cum laude), a student must meet the GPA requirements listed above, and be registered for enough credits in the Spring semester to meet the 60 credit hours at USM requirement. Honors status at the time of the May Commencement ceremony is based on the cumulative GPA obtained after the last full term of attendance (fall or winter) as grades for the spring term are typically not in.
A second bachelor's degree may not be granted a student until he or she has completed an additional year of college work, as represented by a minimum of 30 semester hours beyond the requirements for the first degree. Such work must be completed in accordance with all other University regulations.
It is the responsibility of the office of the Dean of the school or college in which the second degree is sought to provide the approval for undertaking the second degree and certifying the completion of all requirements prior to receipt of the second degree.
Students who have already earned one baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and are undertaking work for a second baccalaureate degree are not required to satisfy Core curriculum requirements.
To withdraw from the University, a student must notify the Registrar in writing. Official withdrawal forms are available from the Registration and Scheduling Services office, the Advising Office, and online, and require a signature. The date of withdrawal will normally be the postmark date of the withdrawal letter or the date the official form is signed.
Grades will be assigned based on rules explained in the Drop section above.
Students in good standing who have withdrawn from the University and who wish to return at a later date should follow the instructions given under Matriculation Status (Leave of Absence). Information concerning financial obligations to the University relative to the withdrawal policy will be found in the Financial Information section of this catalog.
Degree candidates will lose their matriculation status after five years of non-enrollment. In such cases, the student can still register for classes in accordance with current registration procedures as a non-matriculated student. If, however, a student wishes to resume studies as a degree candidate after losing matriculative status, he or she needs to apply for readmission. Readmission applicants should contact the Office of Admissions for the proper forms.
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First-year and new transfer students (including transfers from other campuses of the University of Maine System) must satisfy the graduation requirements set out in the catalog in effect for the first semester of their attendance as a matriculated student. Students whose matriculation at the University has expired forfeit the right to pursue a degree according to the provisions of the original catalog and are bound instead by the catalog in effect for the first semester of attendance as a readmitted student.
At the student's choice, a later catalog may be selected for graduation requirements; a student may not select an earlier catalog. In some cases, academic units have specific time limits for completion of graduation requirements. If so, that time limit will be noted in the appropriate school/college/division section of this catalog. Students must meet the requirements of a catalog issued within eight years of matriculation. A student may use different catalogs to satisfy general education (core) requirements, major requirements, and any minor requirements.
The University is not bound by its previous catalogs and maintains the right to control its course offerings. Where program/degree requirement changes have occurred that have resulted in changes to course offerings and/or availability, reasonable substitutions will be made to facilitate degree/program completion.
Undergraduate students must declare a major before earning 60 credits at USM. Transfer students who enter USM with more than 60 credits must declare a major before the end of their first semester at USM.
Students should obtain the proper form from the Registration and Scheduling Services office or website and seek proper departmental approval. When approved, the new major, minor, or concentration will be updated by Registration and Scheduling Services. Note that some programs require a minimum grade point average (GPA) for a major or minor change. See the appropriate department's section for specific details.
The attendance policy is left to the discretion of the faculty member. Each semester, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to inform the students in each class of the attendance requirements for that class.
Effective September 11, 2017: All courses must have a syllabi. However, provided that the University is compliant with ADA accessibility standards, paper syllabi are no longer required. A paper syllabi must be provided to any student in the class who requests one.
Everyone associated with the University of Southern Maine is expected to adhere to the principles of academic integrity central to the academic function of the University. Any breach of academic integrity represents a serious offense. Each student has a responsibility to know the standards of conduct and expectations of academic integrity that apply to academic tasks. Violations of student academic integrity include any actions that attempt to promote or enhance the academic standing of any student by dishonest means. Cheating on an examination, stealing the words or ideas of another (i.e., plagiarism), making statements known to be false or misleading, falsifying the results of one's research, improperly using library materials or computer files, or altering or forging academic records are examples of violations of this policy which are contrary to the academic purposes for which the University exists. Acts that violate academic integrity disrupt the educational process and are not acceptable.
Evidence of a violation of the academic integrity policy will normally result in disciplinary action. A copy of the complete policy may be obtained from the Dean of Students Office, online at www.usm.maine.edu/deanofstudents or by calling and requesting a copy at (207) 780-5242.
The examination policy states that it is the responsibility of the faculty member to inform the students in each class of the examination requirements for that class. Usually, two to four preliminary examinations are administered in each course and count heavily toward the final grade. Giving a final exam is not mandatory; however, in courses where they are given, the examinations must be scheduled within the specific final exam period. Take-home exams are also due within the final exam period. By action of the Faculty Senate, no test or examination may be scheduled during the last week of classes.
A student who misses a final examination should immediately contact the instructor to apply for a special examination. Students who miss a final examination and are failing the course at the time will usually be given the grade of F, instead of an Incomplete, for the semester grade.
The University complies with the Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (the Buckley Amendment). For the complete University Confidentiality Policy, consult the Confidentiality of Student Records Policy.
Many programs of study at the University require as a condition of graduation the completion of one or more training programs or courses in an outside clinical or professional setting, such as a hospital, clinic, professional office, or public classroom. These outside institutions sometimes impose additional requirements upon students as conditions of participation in their programs. Such requirements might include evidence of a recent medical examination, evidence of health, auto, or other insurance, a written agreement to accept and abide by the rules and regulations of that institution, or the execution of an indemnity agreement or release. The University assumes there will be assent to and compliance with such requirements, rules, and regulations by each student upon his or her enrollment in those courses involving outside clinical study.
The Dean of Students Office provides guidance to students to assist in identifying whether the nature of their concern is an academic appeal or an administrative appeal, and the appropriate University policy or procedure that can be used to resolve it. The academic appeals and administrative appeals policies do not apply to student complaints about unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment. The Dean of Students Office and the Deputy Title IX Coordinator can advise the student about other University policies and procedures used to address student complaints about unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment.
Public institutions of higher education function for the common good, not to further the interest of either the individual faculty member or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free expression. Academic freedom is essential for protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching, and the rights of the student to freedom in learning. Teachers must be accorded freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subjects. Controversy lies at the heart of free academic inquiry, and provocative teaching techniques are often effective. Rights carry corresponding duties; both faculty and students should exercise this freedom in a responsible manner.
A fundamental premise of academic freedom is that decisions concerning the quality of faculty scholarship, teaching, and service are best made by reference to standards of the academic profession, as interpreted and applied by the community of scholars who are qualified by academic expertise and professional training to establish them. Possible violations of professional standards are most appropriately remedied through supervision of faculty peers. This occurs during regular performance appraisals of faculty, in which adequate consideration of student teaching evaluations is required.
Academic appeals generally involve such matters as appeal of grades granted by individual members of the faculty or instances of perceived unfair treatment which a student believes may have negatively impacted his or her grade. To be considered, an appeal of a grade must be initiated within thirty days after a final grade is posted.
In order to guarantee fair and equitable consideration of student academic appeals, a student must first reduce an appeal to writing and discuss it with the faculty member whose actions gave rise to the appeal, in a good faith attempt to resolve any misunderstanding. If, after such discussion, the student is not satisfied with the result, he or she may appeal to the department chair.
After receiving an academic appeal of a grade, the department chair shall interview the student, the faculty member, and any witnesses; review the course syllabus and all graded assignments; and ascertain the facts of each case. Because the faculty member who issued the grade is in the best position to evaluate the performance of students enrolled in a course, the academic judgment used to determine the merits of the grade awarded shall not be reviewable. A department chair may request that a faculty member reconsider a student's grade. A faculty member may decline to reconsider a student's grade; reconsider a grade and change it; or reconsider a grade and decide not to change it. There must be compelling evidence of unfair treatment for a department chair to change a grade, and this may be done only after a vote supporting that decision by faculty peers within the department.
The department chair shall issue a decision in writing to the student and the faculty member within a reasonable period of time, normally not to exceed fourteen days. Either the student or the faculty member may appeal that decision to the dean of the school or college and, if not satisfied with the result, to the provost. Responses to these appeals shall be made in writing to the student and the faculty member within a reasonable period of time, normally not to exceed fourteen days.
The individual receiving an academic appeal of a grade shall review the record compiled by the department chair and evaluate the manner in which the appeal was decided. Because faculty peers within the department are in the best position to evaluate teaching within their scholarly expertise, there must be compelling evidence of unfair treatment or violation of the academic appeals procedure for a grade to be changed. The individual receiving an academic appeal shall issue a decision in writing to the student, with copies to the faculty member and the department chair. A decision by the office of the provost shall be final and not subject to further review.
Appeals of administrative decisions generally involve all matters affecting a student while at USM other than matters affecting grades. An administrative decision is any final decision made in an official capacity by any employee or group of employees of the University, including academic matters other than those affecting grades governed by the Student Academic Appeals Policy and violations of the Student Conduct Code. Decisions by a departmental, college or University faculty group making or changing policies are not final administrative decisions. Grading matters are appealed through the Student Academic Appeals Policy described above. To be considered, an administrative appeal must be initiated within 30 days after the decision is made.
In order to guarantee fair and equitable consideration of student administrative appeals, a student must first reduce an appeal to writing and meet and discuss it with the University employee whose actions gave rise to the appeal, in a good faith attempt to resolve any misunderstanding. If, after such a meeting, the student is not satisfied with the result, he or she may appeal to the head of the academic department or administrative supervisor of the employee.
The head of the academic department or administrative supervisor of the University employee receiving an administrative appeal shall interview the student, the employee, and any witnesses; review relevant written materials; and ascertain the facts of each case. For the individual receiving an administrative appeal to change a decision there must be compelling evidence the University employee exceeded his or her authority or engaged in an arbitrary and capricious abuse of discretion unsupported by the record.
The individual deciding an administrative appeal shall issue a decision in writing to the student and the University employee within a reasonable period of time, normally not to exceed fourteen days. Either the student or the University employee may appeal that decision to the head of the appropriate administrative division and, if not satisfied with the result, to the vice president for Academic Affairs or the appropriate vice president for the area involved. A decision by the vice president for Academic Affairs or the appropriate vice president for the area involved shall be final and not subject to further review.
No person shall present to any individual receiving a student academic appeal or student administrative appeal any oral or written communication not on the record relevant to the appeal. The substance of any prohibited communication shall be disregarded by the person receiving an appeal when making any official decision on that appeal.
Vacation periods of one week in length are defined to start on a Monday and end on the following Sunday. Any scheduled weekend class (Saturday/Sunday) prior to the start of the vacation week will be held as scheduled.