The institution employs competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission and goals of the institution. When determining acceptable qualifications of its faculty, an institution gives primary consideration to the highest earned degree in the discipline. The institution also considers competence, effectiveness, and capacity, including, as appropriate, undergraduate and graduate degrees, related work experiences in the field, professional licensure and certifications, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and student learning outcomes. For all cases, the institution is responsible for justifying and documenting the qualifications of its faculty. (See Commission guidelines “Faculty Credentials.”) (Faculty competence)

Compliance Judgment

X     In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


Francis Marion’s “highest priority is excellence in teaching and learning” [1], and to that end, 83% of disciplinary courses are taught by faculty members holding the highest earned degree in their discipline (see Comprehensive Standard 3.5.4 for further details). To help ensure faculty members have the competence to carry out this mission, they must first be recommended by a department or school and then meet approval by the Provost and the President as indicated in the Faculty Handbook 2016 [2].

Guidelines for Faculty Qualifications

The University prioritizes the highest earned degree in the discipline when determining acceptable qualifications of its faculty. As stated in the Faculty Handbook 2016, “candidates of initial appointment to full-time positions at Francis Marion University should normally hold an earned terminal degree in the appropriate discipline” [3]. The policies concerning recruitment of faculty further state that at minimum both part-time and full-time faculty must hold the “Master’s degree in field or a Master’s degree with at least 18 graduate hours in the teaching field” [4]. For instance, Speech 101 represents a course at Francis Marion that falls under the broader field of mass communication. A faculty member with a PhD or MA degree in Mass Communication would be qualified to teach Speech 101 as would someone with a MA or MFA in Theatre who earned at least 18 graduate hours in speech courses. To cite another example, zoology represents a subdiscipline of biology concerned with the behavior, origins and life processes of animals (including humans). A faculty member with a PhD or MA in zoology would be qualified to teach biology courses oriented toward the life sciences as would someone with doctorate or master’s degree in veterinary medicine with at least 18 hours of life science courses.

Alternative Qualifications

Faculty at Francis Marion have at least a master’s degree in fields that match courses they teach with few exceptions. The Department of Fine Arts has two instructors with BA degrees in Music; one of them is a current member of the Florence Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina and teaches a one-credit hour applied music course; the other has 18 graduate hours in music courses and teaches a three-credit hour general education course on the introduction to music. These individuals have relevant experience and credentials.

All physical education courses at Francis Marion are taught by experienced coaches. In some cases, these coaches teach courses other than their coaching specialty. For example, these individuals may teach one-credit hour courses in weight control and fitness, or one-credit hour skill-based courses in racquetball, weight lifting, or other physical activities. Coaches of intercollegiate athletic teams have the knowledge and teaching methodology to instruct in various physical activities.

In rare cases, Francis Marion faculty may teach courses that do not clearly fit their academic background at first glance. For example, someone with a BS in chemistry and an MA in marketing may not appear qualified to teach a chemistry lab course, but it is not uncommon for chemists to combine science and business, as in the fields of pharmaceutical or chemical instrument sales.  Francis Marion students benefit when qualified professors bring relevant backgrounds into the classroom.

Faculty Roster Form

Credentials for faculty who taught the previous academic year are organized by department in the attached faculty roster form [5]. Any person who taught at Francis Marion University during the previous academic year (2016-2017) is listed.

Column 3 of the faculty roster form lists degrees and majors as they appear on the faculty members’ transcript. Since transcripts do not always indicate concentrations, majors with a particular emphasis of study as self-reported by faculty members in curriculum vitae are designated in column 3 with a forward slash (‘/’), for example, Ph.D. Business Administration/Management Information Systems. It should be noted that not all faculty members report concentrations. More specific information is included in columns 3 and 4 to further clarify the institution’s rationale for assigning certain courses to faculty within particular teaching fields.

The faculty roster was developed in accordance with the template and instructions provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. In addition to the abbreviations for academic degrees, the following abbreviations are used in the tables:

Indicates full-time status
Indicates part-time status
Indicates an undergraduate transferable course
Indicates a graduate course


  1. Catalog 2016-2017, Mission Statement, p. 9
  2. Faculty Handbook 2016, Recruiting and Selecting Faculty, p. 10
  3. Faculty Handbook 2016, Normal Appointment Criteria, p. 10
  4. Faculty Handbook 2016, Minimum Appointment Criteria, p. 10
  5. Faculty Roster Form