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Department of

Theology and Religious Studies

Navigating THRS: Pointers for New Faculty

Dear New Faculty Member,

This page reviews for your reference. basic policies and procedures of the department. Please review carefully. Thanks for your attentiveness. Please let Michelle Poveda or myself know if there is anything we can do to make you feel more welcome in the department.

Mitch Malachowski
Professor and Interim Chair

Topics Covered


First and foremost, please feel free to discuss with me, as chair, any matter that may be of concern.

The department executive assistant is Ms. Michelle Poveda (Maher 276, x4525, She is in the office Monday through Friday. She is perhaps the single most valuable resource in the department and will be able to handle virtually all questions and requests you have.

Your colleagues, up and down the corridor, are of course always happy to answer questions and generally help you feel at home.

Office Procedures

Please see Michelle at your earliest convenience to ensure that she has your current address, telephone number, and email addresses. These will not be given out to students unless you give the OK to do so.

Michelle will give you your access code for the photo-copy machine in the copy room (Maher 265). Please do not use this machine for multiple copies of multiple pages; only in emergencies should it be used for course documents. All larger jobs, especially duplicating of materials for classes, should be done on the SHARP copier in the department office, for which there are secretarial support forms on the top of the counter in the office. Please fill one out for each job—making sure to provide all relevant information, including a deadline—and put the work in the basket on the counter. You are asked to always give 24 hours notice on all copying jobs except syllabi and final exams, for which you should allow four business days.

Tenure-track faculty should speak to Michelle about getting your computer set up to print directly to the SHARP printer.

The complexity of the SHARP printer requires the policy that this machine is off-limits to all faculty. Only the executive assistant, who has had extensive training, and work-study students that she has trained, will be allowed to use the controls of the machine. Do not—please—attempt to run copy jobs directly on this machine yourself.

Please remember our standing policy that course documents of ten pages or more should as much as possible be made available to students using the E-Reserves or “ERes” system (which makes documents available to students on-line as pdf files), or as photocopied packets in the bookstore. In fact, any “handout” that you use regularly and predictably should ideally be treated in this way. To use ERes, just take photo-copies of the document to the Copley Library desk and ask for assistance. Ask your colleagues or contact the library for more information.

In all cases, the maxim for printing is "plan ahead!" Even the most efficient and organized among us are not always able to do this, but we'd very much appreciate your efforts toward this ideal.

The duplication of exams is done only by Michelle (not work study students), also on the SHARP printer. Please be sure to give your exams directly to her or leave them for her in a sealed envelope in the office. Remember that we all seem to give exams around the same time. In the busy final exam season, especially, please allow Michelle a turnaround time of at least four business days.

Offices have been assigned and a name plates should be on the appropriate doors. Office space is rather tight so please try to accommodate one another if you have an office mate. If the name plate is not there or if you do not have an office key, please see Michelle. Please be sure to get a key to the department office (Maher 276) as well.

You have an assigned mailbox in the department office.

Salary checks are by Direct Deposit only. Contact the Payroll office for more information. Ask Michelle for details.
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ID, Email, & MySanDiego

ID cards and parking permits can be obtained from Campus Card Office and the Parking Services Office. They are located in the University Center 102 and 127. Note that the parking permit is available to non-benefits based faculty at one-half the ordinary rate.

Your MySanDiego account is the key to your electronic identity and functioning at USD. One of the first things you'll need to do is get one set up. Among other things, this will give you access to a USD e-mail account--which you must have--and the the MySanDiego portal. To get started, click here.

With a current USD ID, you also have full privileges at Copley Library including borrowing privileges through the San Diego library consortium (The Circuit). The Circuit allows you access to the holdings of UCSD, SDSU, and CSU San Marcos, with books (typically) delivered to the front desk at Copley within 24 hours. Before taking books out or using The Circuit, however, you'll have go to the library and fill out their new user form. (You can do this when you take out your first book.)

Telephones & Long Distance

Please respect the fact the telephones are provided in the offices for USD business use only. It’s OK to make occasional local personal calls, but please keep them short. Bottom line: the department must pay for each call and our telephone budget is quite limited.

For long distance business calls outside the San Diego county area codes, please see Michelle to check out a Calling Card.
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Class Procedures

Please make sure that you have familiarized yourself with the academic calendar and the final exam schedule (under the"Teach/Advise" tab on your page) . It important to state the day and time of your final exam on the course syllabus and remind students on the first day of class that the final is a required part of the course and that family gatherings, airline reservations, etc., are not valid excuses for missing a final.

There is considerable flux in class registration during the first week or so of class. Most of your classes will typically be filled to capacity. You are by no means required to, but may allow “crashers” by signing an add/drop form or--a recent innovation--by using the "Registration Override" function under Banner Self-Service on your My.SanDiego Teach/Advise page. You do so, however, at your own peril. In general, the department does not believe that classes larger than 40 students at the lower and 30 students at the upper division level, respectively, provide a good learning environment. Avoid over-generosity (and being taken advantage of) in this respect.

You should schedule 1.5 hours of office hours for each 3-unit course you are teaching. Full-time faculty are expected to have a minimum of five hours of office hours, or four hours if they have reassigned time. Please post your schedule, including the office hours, on your door, using the form provided by Michelle, and make sure Michelle has a copy of the same. Regular, predicable availability in office hours is very important You are required by the dean to honor your scheduled office hours.

Final exams must be given at the scheduled time unless the dean’s office gives written permission for a change. No tests may be given in the last week of class (the “dead week”). Minor quizzes are permitted during the dead week, if they are listed on the syllabus and count for less than 10% of the final grade. Make-up exams for an individual are permitted during dead week.

If you permit students to take make-up exams, you must also proctor the exam. Neither Michelle nor work study students are permitted to do so.

In case of illness, please call Michelle as soon as possible. She will see that a note is posted on your class door. This will prevent chaos at the office.

If you are forced to miss class because of illness or any other reason, the class must either be covered by a colleague (by advance arrangement) or cancelled. Classes, even simple video presentations, must be proctored by a faculty member. Please do not ask Michelle or a work study student to cover for you, for example, by showing a video. Needless to say, it is not acceptable to ask students to show videos or the like in class without faculty supervision.

On your syllabus, make sure that your office location, office hours, and—again--the time and date of the final exam are included.

A copy of your syllabus must be placed in the department’s syllabi file. Please leave it with Michelle.

Bluebooks and Scantrons can be obtained from the supplies cabinet in the THRS Office. Students should not bring their own bluebooks or paper to the exam.

It is a college tradition to leave a classroom with the blackboards or whiteboards clean and ready for the next class. If your classroom has a whiteboard, you need to carry your own whiteboard markers. These are available in the office.

If you are teaching in the next semester, please be aware that book orders are due to the USD Bookstore in mid-October for the spring semester; late April for the fall semester. The bookstore will send you forms. If you are using texts from foreign publishers, the deadline should be two weeks earlier. For further information on book ordering, see the USD Bookstore web site.

Faculty are expected to accommodate students with disabilities. The student should produce for you USD documentation stating both that she or he has a disability and the accommodation suggested by the university. If this accommodation includes significantly extra time on exams, the proctoring of those exams can be set up through the Office of Disabilities Services (ODS), x4655. It is the student’s responsibility to get the paperwork to ODS one week before the exam; it is your responsibility to get the exam to ODS (Serra 300) the day before the exam. They now accept exams via email attachments, and will contact you with a (presumably) secure email address prior to your exam.
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Media Matters

Classroom media equipment is maintained by Instructional Media Services, classroom computers are the responsibility of the ITS Help Desk (x7900), media software (DVDs, VHS tapes, etc.) is kept in Copley Library.

Most classroom media equipment is locked in media carrels or cabinets. For access to the equipment in your classroom, you'll need a key. Keys may be obtained from the Media Services Circulation Desk, Maher 186, in the north-east corner of Maher basement. Bring your ID and, obviously, the number of your classroom.

You would of course do well to familiarize yourself with the operating procedures of the media equipment prior to planned usage in your class. There is few things as embarrassing as fumbling with electronics in front of 35 students.

Media software is located in Copley Library. Note that both faculty and students are allowed to check out media, so if you want to make sure a particular DVD, VHS tape, or whatever is available on a certain day, you should put it on reserve for your course in Copley Library. Media is cataloged in SALLY, the library's online catalog. Searches can limited to DVDs, CD-ROMs, etc., using the drop down menus in the SALLY search page. ("SALLY" is the electronic catalog, named after Sr. Sally Furay, USD's first provost.)

One of our work-study students may be able to go to the library to pick up media for you, provided they do not have other high priority work. If you are pressed for time, ask Michelle if a work-study student might be available as a library "gopher."

It is a good idea to report as soon as possible any and all equipment malfunctions. The best way is probably to email as as detailed as possible a description to Ed Ybara (x7796). Ed notes that many faculty seem to forget to report problems, perhaps because they are too busy, perhaps because they don't know how.

However, please note that Instructional Media Services is not responsible for the computers in your classrooms. Please report classroom computer problems to the ITS Help Desk (x7900), again, as soon as possible after you notice them.
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Academic Integrity

Please read this summary of the university's Academic Integrity Policy (a link to the complete text of the policy is provided below for your reference). We are obligated to do all we can to prevent cheating and to confront it, if it occurs. You should also be aware that campus fraternity and sorority members keep files of each instructor’s past exams that are placed at the disposal of their members. You may want to vary questions as much as possible and also collect the exams after students have reviewed them in class. If you do the latter, plan to hold on to all materials for one full semester in case a grade grievance issue arises.

Please be aware that plagiarism on papers is a serious concern and these days much more common than we’d like at USD, as at other institutions around the country. The English department has prepared a handout on plagiarism, which you may find useful. The university has also subscribed to, an online service through which papers can be scanned for possible plagiarized material against a huge online database of web sources, articles, and other college and university papers, including papers from USD. Please contact Ms. Amy Besnoy in Copley Library (x2368) for information on Faculty guidelines developed by Ms. Besnoy for the use of at USD may be downloaded here.
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New Pass/Fail Policy

Students in their first semester at USD are not allowed to use the Pass/Fail option at all; they must have completed 12 units before this option is available. This is an old rule. Beyond this limitation, there was an important change in Fall 2006. Students who entered USD in F06 or after are now not be able to take courses Pass/Fail to fulfill a Core Curriculum requirement. For these students, the P/F option will be available only for minors and electives.

Please note that, in any case, it is never up to the instructor to approve, disapprove, or otherwise give or deny permission for students to take a course Pass/Fail. If students are eligible to take the course P/F, and have their advisor's signature, they do not need your signature on the form. It is up to the students and their advisors. The instructor may counsel students as to their options and the wisdom of opting for P/F, noting particularly that if they are taking the course P/F a “D” counts as an “F.” Under no circumstances, however, should an instructor cause a student to feel that he or she will be penalized for taking the course P/F against the instructor’s advice.
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Other Grading Issues

If a student asks for a grade of Incomplete, please consult with me before agreeing to it.

The College of Arts and Sciences has a formal Grade Grievance Policy. In the event that you and a student cannot reach a meeting of the minds, please ask him or her to speak to me. Please be aware that the processing of a formal grade grievance is a cumbersome and time-consuming business. As chair I will seek, if at all possible, to arrive at a fair negotiated agreement, though the burden of proof will be to a great extent on the student to show that the faculty member’s professional judgment was somehow unfair.

The department is very concerned about grade inflation in the college. The average grade distribution for the full time department faculty in between Fall 2002 and Fall 2008 was: A (28%), B (37%), C (16%), D (3%), F (2%), W (3%) and P (8%). This spread is still somewhat high. While there may be exceptionally good and exceptionally bad students in given classes, grade distributions that are consistently higher than this are not desirable. If you wish to talk over grading issues, I will be most happy to do so.
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New Add/Drop Form

As of Fall 2008 there is a new Add/Drop Form. Copies will be available to students for download on, and for faculty as printouts in the department office.

The form is designed to cope with some of the changes introduced by Banner, the new registration and student management software USD is adopting. These changes deal mostly with enforcement of prerequisites and the rule that students need to have second-semester sophomores (i.e., have 45 units) before taking upper-division courses.

Rather than simply giving the student permission to add, as in the old forms, the new form provides several options, thus:

  • OVERRIDE LIMIT: Checking this gives the registrar permission to add the student to your course even if it is closed, i.e., permission to exceed the limit of 35 students for lower division, 25 for upper division.
  • OVERRIDE PRE-REQS: This gives the registrar permission to add the student even if he or she does not have the prerequisites.
  • UPPER DIVISION: This gives the registrar permission to add the student to an upper division course even if the student does not have the required second-semester sophomore (45 unit) standing.
  • LATE ADD: This gives permission to add the student to your course even after the add/drop deadline (Sept. 12 this fall, but I'm not sure I'd recommend using this option except in very unusual circumstances).

The form says "Check all that apply."  I'm thinking I'm going to rather initial all that apply, and X out all that I don't want to be applied, to prevent students exercising any creative license between my office and the registrar's.

NEW: You may also, if you are in your office or otherwise have computer access, effect the above overrides by using the "Registration Override" function under Banner Self-Service on your My.SanDiego Teach/Advise page.

Students are of course not entitled to any of these permissions.  These things are up you as the instructor.

NOTE REGARDING CRASHERS: Please avoid any temptation to allow large numbers (more than 4-5) of students to crash your classes by "adds," especially if there are other THRS courses that are not full.
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Teaching Evaluations and Adjunct Faculty Review

End of semester Teaching Evaluations are mandatory in all USD courses. Envelopes with an appropriate number of evaluation forms will be given to you by Michelle toward the end of the semester. Generally, you should plan on providing about ten minutes of class time for the evaluation process. Choose a trustworthy student to administer the evaluations for you; this student should deliver the evaluations in the sealed envelope to the department office.You will not have access to the evaluations until after your grades have been turned in, and you should inform the students that this is the case.

You have the option of remaining in the room while the students are filling out the evaluations, but the vast majority of instructors do not, as it suggests a lack of trust and might be experienced as intimidating.Many instructors administer the evaluations at the end of a class period, and having started the process, simply leave with a smile, allowing the student administrator to complete the task, collect the evaluations, and deliver them to the department office.  Other instructors prefer to allow ten minutes or so at the beginning of a class.  In any event, I'd suggest that you leave the door of the classroom open while the evaluations are being completed.

The evaluations will be held by Michelle in a locked file cabinet.  After you have submitted your grades, you may ask her for them.  The evaluations are your property, but you should retain them carefully (or ask Michelle to keep them on file for you) because they will be needed occasionally for the adjunct faculty review process.

We have process of review for tenured and tenure-track faculty that has long been in place. It involves regular submission of teaching evaluations, course syllabi and exams, and other documentation, as well as class visitations by peers. To comply with college policy, we have recently introduced a similar procedure for adjunct faculty. Please ask me for details.

Do not hesitate to call on me if there is any additional information I can provide or if I can assist you in any way. I check my email frequently. I do not mind being called at home for time-sensitive issues. Please get the number from Michelle.
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