The institution publishes academic policies that adhere to principles of good educational practice. These policies are disseminated to students, faculty, and other interested parties through publications that accurately represent the programs and services of the institution. (Academic policies)

Compliance Judgment

X      In compliance     Partially compliant     Non-compliant


In a broad spectrum of mediums, Francis Marion University publishes and makes available to all interested parties its academic policies.  Policies undergo periodic revision to keep current with the best practices in higher education and serve our students better. Policy revision can occur at both the administrative as well as faculty level. One such example is the Graduate Council’s recent decision to modify the Academic Renewal policy [1].  Academic policies are distributed in print and electronic media to all stakeholders: students, faculty, staff, applicants, and the general public through our university’s website and in publications such as our catalog, Semester or Term Course Schedules, Faculty Handbook, and Student Handbook.  As our Dean of Students remarks on the “Parent’s Page” of our FMU website: “We view our students as young adults who need guidance and opportunities to explore and cultivate their development, so it is imperative that we provide policies and procedures that not only help in creating an environment conducive to learning, but a community the promotes and fosters growth” [2]. Thus, our policies are created and reviewed by our faculty and administration to ensure that principles of good educational practice are followed on our campus community.

The university’s academic goals are stipulated on the Francis Marion University website [3]. These pair with the mission statement of our College of Liberal Arts, available in print in our Catalog 2016-2017 [4] and on our website [5], which states: “The mission of the Francis Marion University College of Liberal Arts is to provide students with skills and knowledge needed for personal and professional success.”

Our university website and departmental webpages undergo periodic review by faculty and staff to include updated policies and procedures. Each program, department, academic and business office has their own webmaster who is charged with the maintenance, continuous review, and updating of their web page and web presence.

On our website, a Policies and Procedures Guide for our Faculty and Staff is broken down by department and subject matter [6]. An example more specific to students and academics are the policies surrounding services for students with disabilities. Documentation requirements, academic accommodations, and eligibility policies and procedures are stated both in print in our Catalog 2016-2017 [7] and on our website at [8].

Our academic policies appear in print in the following publications: the annually published catalog, course schedules, and faculty and student handbooks. Specific examples from the Catalog 2016-2017 are the FMU Honor Code [9] and Academic Conduct policies [10]. The remainder of academic policies regarding issues such as class attendance, classification of students, dropping of courses, transfer credit, grading policies including GPA and grade changes, grade appeals policy, academic renewal policy, academic standing policy, and policies developed to recognize academic distinction, are located throughout the Catalog 2016-2017 as well [11]. Paper course schedules, printed each semester, also post important policies such as registration policies, fee-payment, drop-add, late registration, and refund policies, as seen in the Course Schedule Spring 2017 [12]. Additionally, under the heading “Policies and Regulations” the policies regarding publications, courses, grade reports, withdrawal and attendance policies, as well as services for students with disabilities and our equal opportunity and FERPA compliance policies are listed [13]. Those schedules can also be accessed online at our website [14].

Our two in-house published handbooks for faculty and students also include many of these same policies and regulations are posted. The Faculty Handbook 2016 further delineates the organizational structure of the university as well as the rights, regulations, and policies guiding the faculty and our faculty governance process [15]. Our Student Handbook 2016-2017 lists many of the same policies that appear in both the catalogs and course schedules and further defines policies governing student life and activities on campus [16]. A specific example pertaining to academic policy is the “Grade Appeals Policy” [17].

The Review Process of Published Policies

The policies in all our publications and web media sites are subject to multiple levels of review and update by the administration and faculty to assure they adhere to best practices and deliver the best way to serve our campus community. For example in Fall 2016, an update to our Academic Renewal policy was proposed by the Provost office. Note in the proposal the wording is such that we state the intent to “Modify,” “Add,” or “Change” certain passages and refer to the actual catalog page number in which the word changes will occur. This reflects the process that is articulated in the Academic Submission Guidelines for Catalog Document [18] and the Academic Affairs Committee proposal example [19]. This proposed change in policy was submitted to the Academic Affairs Committee for their review and approval. Once approved by the Academic Affairs Committee, the proposed policy went before the Faculty Senate [20], then the general faculty [21], and then the Provost for upper-level approvals and the directive to begin implementation. This entire process is published in the faculty handbook and on the webpage as a flowchart that illustrates the faculty governance cycle [22]. At each step of the process, the proposed policy changes are scrutinized by faculty and administration  in a number of committees and advisory bodies that seek to apply the best practices in higher education and to serve our students better. An abridged version of that chart is provided in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Overview of the Governance Process at Francis Marion University

The catalog is updated yearly by the administrative support staff in the Provost’s Office after changes have been approved through the appropriate committees, the Faculty Senate, and the general faculty. Personnel in the Provost’s Office verify all changes through the minutes of the faculty meetings and communicate and coordinate with staff in the University Communications Office to produce the latest, revised editions of the catalog [23]. Evidence of that process can be seen in recent e-mails between Provost Office staff and University Communications Office personnel [24].

The Provost’s Office is further responsible for revising the faculty handbook and verifying its accuracy. The faculty handbook is published every two years. When a newly published faculty handbook is available, it is distributed to all faculty through inter-campus mail. Furthermore, faculty are directed to an online source for the most recent updates to the handbook [25].

The student handbook is updated yearly by the Office of Student Affairs. Each spring semester, offices review their specific sections of the student handbook to ensure accuracy and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The printed publication is available in the University Center and in many offices around campus. The document is also available online [26].


  1. Graduate Council Meeting September 27, 2016
  2. FMU Website, Parent’s Page
  3. FMU Website, Academics
  4. Catalog 2016-2017, College of Liberal Arts Mission, p. 67
  5. FMU Website, College of Liberal Arts
  6. FMU Website, Policies and Procedures Guide
  7. Catalog 2016-2017, Services for Students with Disabilities, p. 18-19
  8. FMU Website, Disability Services
  9. Catalog 2016-2017, FMU Honor Code, p. 46-47
  10. Catalog 2016-2017, Academic Conduct, p. 47
  11. Catalog 2016-2017, Academic Policies, p. 51-60
  12. Course Schedule Spring 2017, p. 3
  13. Course Schedule Spring 2017, p. 4
  14. FMU Website, Course Schedules
  15. Francis Marion Faculty Handbook 2016
  16. FMU Student Handbook 2016-2017
  17. FMU Student Handbook 2016-2017, Grade Appeals Policy, p. 69-70
  18. Academic Submission Guidelines for Catalog
  19. Academic Affairs Committee Proposal
  20. Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes November 15, 2016, p. 1
  21. General Faculty Meeting Minutes November 29, 2016, p. 2
  22. Governance Process Flowchart
  23. Catalog 2016-2017 Draft
  24. E-mail Correspondence about 2017-2018 FMU Catalog Revision and Publication
  25. Francis Marion Faculty Handbook Updates
  26. FMU Website, Student Handbook