At the beginning of every academic year, department chairs should notify the Dean’s Office with the names and email addresses of the faculty members who fill the following three positions: undergraduate director, graduate director (if applicable), and assessment coordinator.

Undergraduate Director

The undergraduate director is the primary contact within the department for the Arts and Sciences Student Services Center. Depending how the unit advises its students, the undergraduate director may also be the unit’s sole advisor or he or she may coordinate the advising with those faculty members also assigned to advise students. Serving as the undergraduate director is an important service to the department and to the College; the chair may recognize this service at the very least by documenting it on the faculty member’s Digital Measures dossier (formerly the FAR) or by reassigning the faculty member’s FTE (which may result in the faculty member teaching less in place of their time spent serving as undergraduate director).

Graduate Director

Each department with one or more graduate programs is asked by the College to appoint one faculty member as the graduate director (sometimes also known as the director of graduate studies). This service assignment, recognized by the department in a manner determined by the chair, requires the faculty member to be in contact with the Arts and Sciences associate dean who oversees graduate studies for the College as well as act as the department’s liaison to the Graduate School.

At the direction of the chair, the graduate director oversees the unit’s graduate program, ensuring that graduate advising, awards, catalog, and handbook issues are addressed in a timely fashion. In many cases, the graduate director likely coordinates other faculty within the unit who are appointed to the graduate school, inasmuch as these faculty may be doing the advising or may be supervising graduate assistants. The graduate director is also often the contact for the Graduate School when it forwards applications to the department from incoming students (applicants’ reference letters are usually sent directly to the department). The graduate director may also be asked to establish such things as a mentoring program for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

Assessment Coordinator

In January 2010, each unit was asked to appoint an assessment coordinator, a new service position within each department, who would be responsible for centralizing and coordinating each unit’s efforts to develop and report on unit and degree outcomes/measures. This position can be filled by the chair or by a faculty person appointed by the chair.


Apart from OIRA tracking the number of students in, or graduates of, a degree-granting unit, and apart from the Alabama Alumni Association tracking alumni (the alumni office can be of assistance in developing a database of graduates/mailing lists, so long as a unit is not aiming to fund raise — if so, contact the Arts and Sciences Development Office first to learn rules and procedures), a department should develop ways of tracking the number of students in all of its degree programs, the number of graduates it produces annually (counting Fall, Spring, and Summer as one academic year, rather than counting per calendar year), as well as its graduates.

Because the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) judges the viability of a program by the number of students it graduates annually, and because reporting on the careers that graduates go on to pursue is sometimes required by accrediting agencies and must sometimes be reported as part of periodic program reviews, developing ways to keep in contact with graduates, and learn of their successes, can be one among many ways that a unit communicates to outside groups its productivity and relevance.

Department Advisory Boards

Chairs are encouraged to consider establishing departmental advisory boards. Much like the College’s Leadership Board, these groups are often comprised of graduates of the unit who may or may not live within the region, and friends of the unit who have an interest in supporting its activities, students, graduates, and faculty. Although fund raising is an important activity with which such boards can assist, this is hardly the only role such advisory boards can play in the life of a unit.

Chairs interested in exploring the possibilities of establishing such advisory boards, and the contributions they can make to their unit, must first contact the Arts and Sciences Development Office to learn the steps required and the details of the College’s expectations for such boards and their membership. For more information on establishing a department advisory board, consult “Guidelines for Department Support Groups” linked from the Resources page in eChairs.

Curriculum and Assessment

Assessment and Student Learning Outcomes

The UAOPS site is a resource managed by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) and WEAVE is an online database system managed by Office of Institutional Effectiveness that holds the assessment data for all units at the University of Alabama. Both sites are intended to serve as resources for off-site assessment of the University by such credentialing agencies as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Chairs are advised to consider forming a faculty committee to carry out or consult on the unit’s ongoing UAOPS updates and to name an assessment coordinator to ensure that the unit is collectively committed to identifying and achieving its goals in WEAVE. A staff member in the department is authorized to upload documents and information to the UAOPS site. The assessment coordinator will upload all assessment data into WEAVE.

Department chairs are required to ensure that the departmental UAOPS site is updated regularly. All of the unit’s current faculty must be listed on the site along with their vitae and current course syllabi. The Online Syllabus Management tool is intended to populate both the UAOPS and FAR sites. The information entered into the OSM can also be accessed and uploaded to Blackboard Learn shells.

Department chairs should also ensure that the WEAVE database system remains current with all assessment data. WEAVE reports will contain the unit goals, the means for assessing efforts toward achieving those goals, the results of those assessments, and the actions to be taken in response to the information obtained. The assessments can be quantitative and qualitative and should provide data that demonstrate the success of efforts toward reaching stated goals. The reports should likewise lead to revisions to those goals and action plans for improvement as needed. Assessment tools should reinforce the department’s dedication to student learning and faculty achievement.

In WEAVE, goals and assessment measures must be listed for the unit as a whole (department goals) and for each degree-granting program (program goals). Departments with multiple degree programs (e.g., one or more B.A. degrees; M.A. and/or Ph.D. degrees) will stipulate separate sets of goals for each program. The department goals should refer to overarching aspirations for the unit, such as maintaining accreditation, addressing enrollments, increasing use of multimedia technology, mentoring new faculty, and enhancing student employment success, etc. The program goals should be more specific and address issues applicable to the individual degrees and the skills graduates of those degree programs should gain. Assessment measures must provide data demonstrating successful efforts toward achieving goals. Vague or overly ambitious goals should be avoided if they cannot be measured through direct or indirect assessments.

Although chairs and faculty members may decide to develop new assessment techniques to determine whether program goals are met (e.g., instituting an entry data sheet for incoming majors and an exit interview for graduating majors, or developing pre- and post-tests to demonstrate improvement in a single course), they should also consider using measures intrinsically embedded within courses to demonstrate the accomplishment of goals. In such cases, faculty members will have to report the outcomes from such assessments (e.g., question 10 on their second test which demonstrates the acquisition of some skill or knowledge) so that the assessment coordinator can include the data in WEAVE reports. Data gathered from individual courses will represent the efforts of the unit as a whole. Departments should be sure to use measures from a range of courses to ensure that the data retrieved accurately captures unit goals as a whole. Assessment measures should aim to regularly and methodically examine the effectiveness of the unit’s efforts to achieve goals. All of this data and departmental goals will be communicated in two annual reports: the first, entered into WEAVE in the fall is a plan for assessment for the upcoming academic year; the second, entered into WEAVE in the summer is a report with data that results from the implementation of the plan. [rev. 9.13.13]

Managing Course Proposals and Changes to Curriculum

Amending/Updating an Existing Course in the Inventory

All changes to existing courses are achieved by amending the course form in CourseLeaf Course Inventory Management System. In order to access the system, visit and follow these steps:

  1. Log in using your myBama credentials.
  2. Upon logging in, use the search bar at the top of the page to locate the course you wish to update.
  3. After you have identified the appropriate course (by searching for the two- or three-digit departmental identifier and course number), scroll and select the Edit Course icon near the top right of the Course Inventory Form.
  4. Make the appropriate changes to course title, description, repeatable hours, prerequisite information, etc.
  5. If the proposed changes alter more than 40 percent of the course’s content, the Office of Academic Affairs requires that a new syllabus be included in the course change proposal. In these situations, you may upload the revised course syllabus to the Course Inventory Form.
  6. In the text box labeled, “Notes,” you should supply a short summary of the changes that have been proposed for the course (i.e., change of repeatable hours; updated prerequisites; amended course title or description, etc.).
  7. After the changes have been formalized on the Course Inventory Form, select the Save and Submit icon at the bottom of the page. Note that selecting the Save option only retains the information on the form; the Save and Submit action will initiate the Workflow, and send the proposed changes to the next stage for the review and approval.

Developing a New Course

All new course proposals must be submitted through the CourseLeaf Course Inventory Management System. In order to access the system, visit and follow these steps:

  1. Log in with your myBama credentials.
  2. Upon logging in, select the Propose a New Course option, and complete the information requested. When developing a new course, be mindful of the following details: course number, long and short titles, course description, number of credits, prerequisite information, repeatable hours, and/or special instructions (i.e., open only to majors, seniors only, etc.).
  3. Upload the required syllabus to the Course Inventory Form using the Upload Syllabus icon near the bottom of the form. All new course proposals require the submission of a detailed course syllabus, which should include the syllabus requirements listed on the Academic Affairs website.
  4. Use the Notes section of the form to include any special instructions or information that may aid the various reviewers involved in the approval process.
  5. After all the required information has been identified and the syllabus has been attached, select the Save and Submit icon to generate the Workflow; this action will send the form to the next stage of review and approval. If you wish to save the form and return to it before initiating the Workflow, you should select the Save option in the bottom section of the Course Inventory Form.

Applying a Core Attribute to an Existing Course

Use core designation templates available on the Academic Affairs website as a guide for revising the syllabus for a particular course. The UA Core Curriculum Committee requires direct use of the language espoused in the Core Templates in new courses proposed for core designations.

After the syllabus for the course has been amended to include the language provided in the appropriate core template, the department should submit the following two items to the A&S assistant dean and director of student affairs: 1) a short memo explaining the rationale for the core attribute, and 2) the syllabus for the course. Please note that unlike the development of new courses or revision of existing courses, the process for obtaining a core attribute is managed outside of the CourseLeaf Course Inventory System.

After the assistant dean and director of student affairs receives the memo and updated syllabus, the A&S Undergraduate Curriculum Committee will review the proposal.

Upon receiving the approval of the A&S Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the proposal is shared with the dean for his approval.

After the dean has indicated his official approval by signing the departmental memo, his assistant will share the proposal packet with the appropriate personnel in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Academic Affairs will notify the College regarding the status of the core proposal after the course has been evaluated by the University’s Core Curriculum Committee. Decisions may include approved for core attribute, approved for temporary core attribute (i.e. one academic year), or not approved. In some cases, Academic Affairs may request additional information before making a decision on a course proposal.

Please note that special topics courses are no longer eligible for core designations. In situations where a department desires to obtain a core attribute for a course offered under a special topics number, the course should be proposed under a new number. After the new course/number is approved for the course, then the department may petition for a core designation.

Developing a New Course and Applying a Core Attribute

A course must first exist in the Course Inventory before it is eligible to receive a core attribute. Follow the steps outlined in the Developing a New Course section in order to propose a new course. After the course is approved and added to the UA Course Inventory, then the department may petition that a particular core attribute be applied to the course.

Use core designation templates available on the Academic Affairs website to develop or format the course syllabus. The UA Core Curriculum Committee requires direct use of the language espoused in the Core Templates in new courses proposed for core designations.

After the syllabus is complete, the department should submit the following items to the A&S assistant dean and director of student affairs: 1) a short memo explaining the rationale for the core attribute, and 2) the syllabus for the course. Please note that unlike the development of new courses or revision of existing courses, the process for obtaining a core attribute is managed outside of the CourseLeaf Course Inventory System.

After the assistant dean and director of student affairs receives the memo and syllabus, the A&S Undergraduate Curriculum Committee will review the core proposal.

Upon receiving the approval of the A&S Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the proposal is shared with the dean for his approval.

After the dean has indicated his official approval by signing the departmental memo, his assistant will share the proposal packet with the appropriate personnel in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Academic Affairs will notify the College regarding the status of the core proposal after the course has been evaluated by the University’s Core Curriculum Committee. Decisions may include approved for core attribute, approved for temporary core attribute (i.e. one academic year), or not approved. In some cases, Academic Affairs may request additional information before determining a decision on a course proposal.

Please note that special topics courses are no longer eligible for core designations. In situations where a department desires to obtain a core attribute for a course offered under a special topics number, the course should be proposed under a new number. After the new course/number is approved for the course, then the department may petition for a core designation.

Proposing New Specializations, Tracks, Majors and Minor Programs

The proposal for a new major, minor program or addition of specializations, tracks or concentrations within existing major programs must undergo a series of approval stages before being added to the Undergraduate Catalog:

  • The proposal should first be approved at the department level.
  •  If the major or minor program being proposed is interdisciplinary in nature, then the directors, overseers, and contributors to the program should approve the curricular plan, which may operate per agreements across multiple departments or schools.
  • After the proposal has been approved by the appropriate departmental personnel, it should be shared with the assistant dean and director of student affairs.
  • Upon receiving the proposal information, the assistant dean and director of student affairs will ask the AS Undergraduate Curriculum Committee to review the proposal.
  • When approved by the AS Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, the proposal is shared with the dean for his review and approval.
  • After the dean has indicated his official approval by signing the proposal, his assistant will share the proposal packet with the appropriate personnel in the Office of Academic Affairs. Academic Affairs will oversee the management of the proposed academic program changes and notify the College regarding the status of the core proposal after the course has been evaluated by the University’s Core Curriculum Committee. New major proposals, as well as changes related to major curricula, require the involvement of the UA Board of Trustees and ACHE. New minor proposals and changes to minor programs require the approval of the Board of Trustees, but not ACHE. In some cases, Academic Affairs may request additional information to accompany the program proposal and aid the appropriate entities in determining a decision.
  • After a decision is reached by the Board of Trustees and the approval of ACHE has been obtained, the department submitting the proposal will be notified by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Interpreting the CourseLeaf Workflow

When a department edits or adds a course in the CourseLeaf Course Management System, a workflow is initiated. This workflow informs the submitter and reviewers of the course proposal’s status throughout the various required stages of approval. The following preview represents the CourseLeaf workflow based on the current organization of approvers within the College and the University.

  1. Department Chair: The department chair serves as the first point of receipt in the CourseLeaf Workflow. After the faculty member submits a new course or course change proposal (i.e., Save and Submit) the course form is routed to the department chair’s queue. CourseLeaf will notify the chair by email when a proposal has been received in the queue and request his/her action on the proposal. His/Her decision on the course proposal indicates the decision of the department regarding the continuation or discontinuation of the proposed course and/or course changes.
  2. A&S Dean: If approved by the department chair, the course proposal form is routed to the queue of the A&S dean. At this stage in the process, the course proposal is shared with the nine faculty members composing the College’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC). These committee members review the new courses, evaluate syllabi against the standard outlined in the UA Faculty Handbook, and where appropriate, make recommendations to the departments proposing the courses. After proposals have met the satisfaction of the UCC, new course proposals are shared with the dean for his approval.
  3. Academic Affairs: When approved by the dean, the course proposal form is directed to the queue overseen by the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA). OAA personnel will review the College’s proposal, make any necessary recommendations to the College or department, and approve the proposed course or course changes.
  4. Institutional Research and Assessment: After clearing the OAA queue, the next stage in the CourseLeaf Workflow is the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. OIRA will ensure that the course number and course details (i.e., contact hours, etc.) are in alignment with the requirements mandated by SACS, ACHE, etc. After these details are affirmed and approval is awarded by OIRA, the workflow continues to the next level.
  5. Registrar: After OIRA has approved a course proposal, the form is routed to the Office of the University Registrar. At this late stage in the approval process, final details related to the course are evaluated. The appropriate information is shared with the administrators of the Undergraduate Catalog, DegreeWorks, myBama, and Native Banner.
  6. Banner: Following the processing of the course form in the Office of the University Registrar, the new course or course changes are applied to the official Course Inventory and made effective in Banner. While the Banner sync is the last active step in the CourseLeaf Workflow, OUR will communicate the outcome with the departmental owner(s) of the new course.
  7. Initiator FYI: The Office of the University Registrar will communicate the ultimate outcome with the departmental approver after the course has been added into the UA Course Inventory.

Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE)

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) is a governor-appointed 12-member board that oversees all higher education in the state of Alabama. Its jurisdiction therefore includes the power to approve or deny new degree-granting programs (e.g., a new BA, MA or PhD program) and to curtail established degree granting programs that are judged to be non-viable. The viability of a degree program is judged by the number of students graduated (i.e., for the B.A., the number of graduating majors) annually by the program (measured annually on a three year rolling average).

The minimum number of graduates (i.e., the three-year rolling average) per year necessary to remain viable for BA programs is currently 7.5; for MA programs it is currently 3.75; and for Ph.D. programs it is currently 2.25.

If judged non-viable, ACHE requires a program to undergo a self-review and also has a process whereby a unit can request a waiver (i.e., itemize extenuating circumstances that should be taken into consideration, list actions the unit will take to become viable, such as combining programs into new majors, etc.). Non-viable programs not granted a waiver are given a maximum of three years to be phased out. Visit ACHE’s site to find documents pertaining to program viability, such as the Legislative Mandate for Program Viability and Section 16-5-8 of the Code of Alabama.

Online Courses and the College of Continuing Studies

The College of Arts and Sciences (AS) partners with the College of Continuing Studies (CCS) to develop and deliver online courses supporting The University of Alabama’s core curriculum requirements. Distance Learning (DL) degree-seeking students enroll in these undergraduate online courses. At the discretion of the College of Arts and Sciences, Main Campus students are given the opportunity to enroll in many of the online courses. Though online courses may be developed in partnership with and administered by the College of Continuing Studies, chairs must remember that these online courses belong to the department and must be comparable with department on-campus offerings.

The College’s online course policy is available on the A&S home page.

Course development, development compensation, and delivery

To develop an online course, the appropriate AS academic department identifies a content expert (CE) who is paired with an instructional designer (ID) from CCS. The CE and ID partner to develop the course with the CE primarily responsible for content and the ID primarily responsible for creating and organizing the course in Blackboard. Following completion of development, both AS and CCS review the course for technical and pedagogical best/practices.

The College of Arts and Sciences requires a full semester for development and a separate second semester for the review of online courses. Successful review by CCS and the appropriate personnel in AS, which includes the academic department, must be completed prior to course delivery.

The College of Continuing Studies compensates faculty to develop online courses in compliance with the University of Alabama Supplemental Pay Policy.  In addition, development compensation factors include course type (does the course support an online program, core curriculum, or none), course category (new, major revision, minor revision), teaching status of content expert (adjunct, 9-month, 12-month, graduate assistant, etc.), and status of the Memorandum of Understanding (if there is an existing MOU on file). Course development compensation is subject to the approval of The University of Alabama academic college, the Division of Financial Affairs, and the College of Continuing Studies.

Once development and review are complete, as well as the successful completion of any necessary payroll department paperwork, compensation is awarded to the person or department identified on the MOU. Compensation for development is awarded once during the terms of the MOU. The MOU also identifies the terms of delivery and addresses content ownership. The CCS technical support department assists with uploading online course content prior to the delivery semester and provides assistance throughout the delivery of the course. [9.27.13]

Tuition revenue share and course instruction

Tuition revenue share is based on the number of DL students in the online course. At the conclusion of each semester, CCS transfers a portion of the DL tuition revenue to the College of Arts and Sciences. Arts and Sciences is responsible for identifying instructors for online courses, determining online course teaching load, and compensating instructors.

Online Course Certification

Effective immediately, all faculty and instructors teaching and developing online courses will be required to have a certification for the online educator development program. This requires the completion of 7 core courses and 3 elective workshops. Please see for more details.

All courses are currently offered online through the College of Continuing Studies. Individuals can register for the online version of the course by going to and completing the electronic request form.

Faculty who do not meet this requirement will not be able to teach or develop online courses for the College of Arts & Sciences.

Cross-Listed Courses and Course Substitutions

Apart from cross-appointing faculty members, or instituting joint appointments, departments can establish relationships with each other by allowing their students to take other unit’s courses for credit toward the degree requirements of their own major or minor. There are two ways of doing this:

Cross-Listed Courses: Although a class is taught in one unit, another unit may, with the other unit’s permission, agree to put its own course number into Banner to allow its majors to enroll in one of its own courses yet take the other unit’s class. In such cases, the one Instructor will appear as the Instructor of record for two courses and the units will have to agree upon how many seats each of the two courses (i.e., each of the two units) can enroll.

Course Substitutions: Students Services allows advisors to make course substitutions, whereby they can direct the College to substitute one course for another, so that a course taken in another department can count toward the home department’s major or minor requirements.

University of Alabama Substantive Change Policy

On April 17, 2014, the Provost’s office circulated a document that detailed University and SACS-COC policies regarding significant change in an academic unit. This information can be found in the Resources section of eChairs.


Annual Department Report and Annual Meeting

Annual department reports are among the most important way chairs can communicate directly with the Dean’s Office while simultaneously creating a history of the department for future chairs and faculty members to read. These reports, and the annual review meeting scheduled at the conclusion of the Spring semester when they are discussed with the dean and your divisional associate dean, provide the chair with an opportunity to present a complete picture of the department, including strengths, challenges, needs, and goals.

The dean, the dean’s secretary, and associate dean require a copy of this report (in electronic form or hard copy) at least two weeks prior to your year-end meeting.

Every year, the chair will be asked to schedule a meeting with the dean and corresponding associate dean to go over the annual report to discuss their department’s past year and its performance over the previous three- to five-year period. This meeting is an opportunity for the dean to discuss with the chair their faculty members’ faculty activity reports (which will have been completed prior to this annual review meeting), faculty career progress, personnel issues, department budgets and gift accounts, department needs, and department goals (e.g., progress on implementing the unit’s current Five-Year Plan or its last Eight-Year Review’s Action Plan).

All department annual review meetings must be completed by no later than June 30 each year.

Five-Year Plan

All chairs should be continually working on developing or implementing a five-year plan. Five-year plans should include an assessment of the current position of a department and provide specific goals for the future, taking into account how the unit can contribute to the College’s and the University’s goals and initiatives. It is important that these plans address realistic methods of obtaining goals, a timetable for implementation, and specific metrics for measuring success. Appointing a committee to develop the plan, or at least a faculty member to lead the discussions and write a draft of the plan, is an ideal way to develop new forms of future leadership within the department.

Eight-Year Program Review

Units on campus undergo program reviews every eight years. For units in which accrediting bodies already conduct program reviews, a modified eight-year program review process exists; for units in which there is no accrediting body, a full eight-year program review is undertaken. The program review process is administered by a program review coordinator in the Office of Academic Affairs. In early to mid Spring semester, the program review coordinator will notify chairs that their department is due for an Eight-Year Program Review in the Fall. As soon as a chair receives this notification in the Spring, he or she should nominate an external consultant.

The review is a year-long process that begins in earnest in the early Fall semester when the unit produces its own self-study report. The review process entails an internal document produced by the department, a University review committee that interviews members of the unit and studies its curriculum and other materials and produces its own report, an outside reviewer/consultant who submits his or her own report to the review committee, and a final committee report that is presented to the chair at a final meeting. The chair is responsible for ensuring that an Action Plan is written by the department in response, outlining how the review committee’s recommendations will be acted upon.

Three years later the chair must submit a “mid-cycle report” in May to document progress made on implementing the previous Action Plan.

For more information regarding this process, including a timetable, visit the Graduate School website.

Assessment Reports

In cooperation with the chair, an assessment coordinator is responsible for gathering and organizing data regarding student learning outcomes (SLO) in context with department and program goals. The assessment coordinator submits data using the WEAVE online system twice during the academic year: in the fall with an assessment plan for the upcoming year and in the summer with the data resulting from the implementation of that plan. The assessment coordinator should also keep faculty informed of progress and solicit data from representative courses as needed. Department chairs and the departmental assessment coordinators can access WEAVE through myBama.

Emergency Preparedness and Academic Continuity

Emergency Preparedness

The College and the University require all departments to have an Emergency Preparedness Plan that it is prepared to put into action in the advent of an emergency situation. This plan, following a template that can be provided by the College, must be regularly updated and must list emergency contacts for the unit as well as outline procedures to be followed for such events as a weather emergency, fire, hazardous materials emergencies, or criminal behavior. Instructions for such things as safe locations where faculty, staff, and students can gather in an emergency must also be posted publicly in each department/building (Building Representatives should be of assistance in identifying these locations).

Contact the associate dean in charge of the Emergency Operation Plan if you have any questions about your Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Each department within Arts and Sciences has been given a weather radio, which the College expects to be used in main offices to warn of upcoming weather emergencies. During such an emergency, the University will keep faculty, staff, and students aware of impending danger (via the web, campus-wide automated phone messages, alert sirens placed across campus, warning loudspeakers, and the cell/text message system) and, when necessary, will cancel classes so that people can move to safe locations on campus. At such times classes must be canceled.

For more information, download the College’s emergency operations plan or visit the University’s emergency preparedness website, where up-to-date weather information and warnings are posted. Consult the University’s homepage for all official communication regarding the status of classes in an emergency or whether the campus is responding to a weather event by delaying or cancelling classes.

Academic Continuity

The College of Arts and Sciences conducts regular academic continuity exercises to help faculty and staff plan for an emergency and find ways to carry on our educational mission in the event of an unexpected and/or extended campus shut-down. The following elements of the exercises are required by the Dean’s Office:

Continuity of Academic Services

  • All classes must have a shell in Blackboard Learn
  • All instructors must enter their syllabi into the OSM syllabus tool and import their syllabus into the appropriate Blackboard shell with the integration tool
  • All instructors will offer an assessment in Blackboard Learn
  • Classes will not be held (in lieu of this, instructors/faculty will have a significant exchange of information electronically with students—but this exchange need not be synchronous, i.e., need not happen at the time the class would have been held)

Continuity of Administrative Services

  • Main office will close for one half of one day
  • Key personnel will participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session

In preparation for their exercise, departments should create a list of “mission-critical” things that they’d like to try to accomplish from a remote location during the exercise—these may be administrative and/or academic.


Mid-Term Grades

Initially begun in the early 2000s to assist with retention and intended at that time only for freshmen and incoming transfer students, mid-term grades are now reported by all instructors for all students enrolled in 100- and 200-level courses (i.e., lower-level undergraduate courses). These grades are entered through MyBama, as are all grades, approximately five weeks into the Fall and Spring semesters. This means that all instructors must, by that time, have had an assignment so as to be able to record and thus report a grade. An ambiguity exists in terms of the requirement for faculty to report mid-term grades; while it has never been mandatory, it has been strongly encouraged by the provost and chairs may be notified by the College if a faculty member in his or her unit does not enter these grades during the specified time period.

Office Hours

According to Chapter 5, Section II. B of the Faculty Handbook: “All faculty members must maintain regular and reasonably convenient office hours to answer questions from students and to advise students. In addition, faculty members are expected to schedule individual appointments as needed. The schedule of office hours must be posted and must be included in all course syllabi.” Although no set number of hours is prescribed, a rule of thumb adopted by the College is for one weekly office hour per each three weekly hours spent in class.

Interim and Summer School


Interim is a three-week academic session in either late May and early June or late December and early January that provides faculty with instructional opportunities that cannot be accommodated during the traditional academic terms. Faculty members prepare interim-course proposals following guidelines developed by the Office of Academic Affairs and submit these to the Dean’s Office. The interim course proposals are reviewed in the College and by the Office of Academic Affairs prior to approval. Interim term is an independent instructional enterprise; instructional costs are borne entirely by tuition revenues. Before courses can be offered, enrollments must exceed a minimum level (10 students for undergraduate courses, or 5 students in graduate courses) or the faculty member must agree to accept compensation at a reduced level. For more details on the reduced pay structure, see the Summer School entry below. Pay for interim courses is considered supplemental pay for those on 9-month contracts. For more information on interim courses, including course proposal forms, visit the Interim Program section of the UA registrar’s website.

Summer School

There are two summer school semesters: Summer 1 held in June and early July, and Summer II held throughout July and early August. Chairs are required to submit a proposed summer budget request to the Dean’s Office in mid-November. (There is no longer a special form. Just submit an Excel file.) This request includes proposed course offerings, projected enrollments, instructors, and the cost of instruction (the 9-month faculty member’s supplemental pay for summer school is calculated at a rate of 7.5 % of a faculty member’s gross academic year salary for a three-hour course [excluding any stipends they may receive for other campus duties]; part-time instructors receive a flat rate that varies with each academic division of the College). The College assembles the individual requests into a College-wide request that is then submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs in January. The College receives a summer budget allocation in March and soon after informs the units of those courses that will be included in the final summer courses. Should it become necessary to modify the summer schedule after approval, the chair should submit a request identifying and justifying the proposed changes to the Dean’s Office.

In some units, such as professional programs, students are enrolled throughout the entire calendar year, although that does not necessarily mean that their instructors are paid on a 12-month contract.

Unlike the Fall and Spring semesters, when courses can be closed due to under-enrollment, during Interim and Summer classes instructors’ salaries are pro-rated based on the enrollment in the class; for example, undergraduate classes with 10 or more students, and graduate classes with 5 or more, will earn the instructor his or her full interim or summer salary. However, they will earn 90 % of that salary for 9 undergraduates, 80 % for 8, and conceivably, with the permission of the College, 20 % for 2 students and 10 % for 1. At the graduate level, the same policy applies, such that 4 Interim or Summer students will earn the Instructor 80% of his or her salary, etc.

Under-Enrolled Courses

Chairs with Fall or Spring undergraduate courses with fewer than 15 students, and graduate courses with fewer than 7 students, must be prepared to justify to their divisional associate dean the reason for running a course that is considered to be under-enrolled. In some circumstances, chairs may consider closing such courses prior to the start of a semester, having their office staff notify the students that the course/section is closed, and reassigning the instructor to another course (i.e., some chairs will anticipant this possibility when planning each semester’s class schedules by placing in their schedule courses that they believe will easily enroll but keeping such course’s seats closed unless an instructor is assigned to it and it is needed as part of the unit’s offerings).

Closing a course prior to the start of a semester runs the risk of adversely affecting a student’s schedule, of course (i.e., it may now be too late for the student to enroll in a substitute), and chairs should weigh their alternatives carefully before doing so; contacting your divisional associate dean is a key element to making this decision, as well as contacting the College’s assistant dean and director of student affairs. The Spring II/Fall II minimester offerings may be helpful in this sort of situation.

During Interim and Summer semesters, the number to “make” a course is slightly lower: 10 students for an undergraduate course, and 5 students for a graduate course. Under-enrolled courses can run but the faculty member’s salary will be pro-rated to reflect the number of students enrolled.

With enrollment growth has come a more concerted effort to use space efficiently; chairs now may be asked by the College not to justify under-enrolled courses as much as under-utilized space, whether in terms of the time(s) during which a class is scheduled or the type of room in which it is scheduled. See the description of Room Optimization in Budgets and Facilities.

Fall II/Spring II

Fall II and Spring II are abbreviated semesters that begin approximately one month after the regular semester begins and end at the same time as the Fall and Spring semesters. All offerings in the Fall II/Spring II semesters have been, and most likely will continue to be, asynchronous online courses offered through the College of Continuing Studies.

Be aware when counseling students that hours added as part of Fall II/Spring II count as a part of the maximum course load of 18 credit hours. Students receiving federal financial aid should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine how aid will be affected. In addition, students’ tuition charges may increase when Fall II or Spring II courses are added. Students should contact the Office of the Registrar.