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Recruiting, Advising, and Working with Students

APSU, like all other similar institutions, operates in a very competitive environment.

There are several ways that you and your faculty can assist the Office of Admissions with undergraduate student recruitment and the College of Graduates Studies with graduate student recruitment.  Some departments host events for high school students interested in their discipline.  (The Department of Languages and Literature hosts a Classics Day, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics hosts math contests, etc.)  Studies have shown that students who visit campus are much more likely to apply and enroll than students who have not. 

Each week the Office of Admissions sends to chairs a list, sorted by intended major, of students who have applied and been accepted to APSU.  Of course, some of these students will enroll in APSU, and others will go elsewhere.  Consider a personal note or email to students who have been accepted to APSU and who have indicated an interest in your discipline.  You might mention something distinctive about your department, invite the students for a campus visit, etc.

When prospective students schedule campus visits, the Office of Admissions will try to make an appointment for the student to meet someone in the department of their intended major.  Try to make sure someone is “on-call” to meet with these students.

The presence of enthusiastic faculty members at AP-Day and Montgomery County College Day can make a good impression on students and their parents.  Some departments have found it helpful to bring representatives of department student organizations to these events.

Consider inviting someone from the Office of Admissions to visit a faculty meeting and bring faculty up to date on the University’s recruiting efforts and how the department can assist.

You or your designee will be expected to participate in Govs ROW, the APSU summer welcome program.   Your role will be to assist incoming freshmen and transfer students with preparing their first class schedule at APSU.   A list of students who have signed up for each Govs ROW session will be sent to you in advance.  Some Govs ROW advisors like to plan a tentative list of course recommendations for each of these students in advance.  Be sure to keep a list of each student that you advise at Govs ROW; early in the semester your or your Academic Assistant will need to assign each of them permanent advisors in Banner.

Some departments use professional advisors for all advising tasks.  Most departments, however, assign advising duties to faculty.  You will need to develop a process for these assignments that distributes the work load as evenly as possible.

The APSU faculty handbook contains an advising syllabus, and tips for effective academic advising.

Some departments have an advising event (luncheon, pizza supper, etc.) right before priority registration begins.  These events contribute to camaraderie among students.  Faculty can collaborate to assist students with issues such as transfer credit, course substitutions, etc.

Many advising decisions impact student financial aid, veteran’s educational benefits and military tuition assistance.  The Office of Financial Aid has prepared a guide for advisors which can be found here:  https://www.apsu.edu/financialaid/faculty-staff-resources/Guide_for_Faculty_Revised_August_2019.pdf

Working with transfer students is one aspect of advising on which you will probably spend a great deal of time.  Particularly in the case of students who are or who have been in the military, a student may present transcripts from a number of different institutions.   When students transfer credit from public Tennessee community colleges or universities, articulation agreements are in place which make it possible for the Office of the Registrar to automatically determine the corresponding APSU course; indeed in many cases the course numbers will be the same.  However, when students transfer from private or out-of-state schools someone will have to evaluate the transcript.  As department chair, it is ultimately your decision if and how to count transfer courses in your major and in your department’s areas of the general education core.   You should work with the Transcript Analyst in the Office of the Registrar (https://www.apsu.edu/registrar/personnel.php) on issues of transfer credit.

As chair, you will also approve (or deny) any course substitutions that faculty advisors recommend.  Encourage your faculty to consult with you on any substitutions prior to making promises to students.  (Substitutions are requested in OneStop by the student’s advisor and routed automatically.  You will get an email that a substitution request is in your OneStop Workflow.)

Any transfer student receiving Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits will be required to have a Prior Credit Evaluation on file in APSU’s Veterans Education Benefits Office (VEBO).  Here is a link to the process and the form:  https://www.apsu.edu/veterans-affairs/course-requirements/prior-credit-evaluation/index.php

Most departments have student organizations, and the members of your student organizations will appreciate your interest in and support for their activities.  In addition to helping students develop a sense of belonging in the department, and helping them start to create a network of life-long professional contacts, these organizations can sponsor important outside-of-class learning opportunities.  Student groups who travel with faculty sponsors to conferences have an opportunity to learn about their chosen profession in ways impossible to convey in a classroom setting. 

Student organizations that are officially registered by the University are eligible to apply for funds for selected activities and to participate as a club in various university events.  Information about APSU student organizations, including the registration process may be found here:  https://www.apsu.edu/student-life/organizations/

Each student organization must have a faculty advisor.  It is important that your department count this activity as departmental service, since an involved and enthusiastic organization advisor can help foster a real sense of community among students and faculty in your department.

Your student organizations can help you with recruiting at AP-Day, can help you run any events that you host for high school students, can help you publicize departmental events, and can give you feedback on departmental issues.  Time invested in cultivating a relationship with your student organizations is time well-spent!

Donors may have established scholarships earmarked for students majoring in your discipline.  At this website: https://apsu.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com/CMXAdmin/Cmx_Content.aspx?cpId=1112  you may browse for scholarships that may be available to your students.  

This is also the web site through which students apply for these scholarships.   You will need to appoint a departmental scholarship committee to review these applications and make award decisions.  Generally, student applications are due in March, and scholarship committees should convene soon thereafter to make award decisions for the following academic year.  The website linked above contains a faculty login for committee members to review scholarship applications.  Contract the Director of Donor Relations and Scholarships (https://apsu.edu/advancement/uastaff.php) for questions about available scholarships and the award process.

Having honors graduates contributes to the prestige of a program.  The APSU Honors Program (https://www.apsu.edu/honors/) is heavily dependent on department chairs.  Each department participating in the honors program has two 3000-4000 level honors courses or honors seminars, which are taken by students in their junior year.  It is important to include these courses in the department’s course schedule and to communicate with the honors program director about the course rotation.   Additionally, the honors program uses faculty from various departments to teach the honors diversity course, HON 2220 and the freshman seminar course HON 1000, which replaces APSU 1000 for honors students.  If possible, encourage your faculty to participate in the instruction of these courses, and consider discussing with the Director of Honors and PELP regarding how you and your faculty can help optimize the honors experience for honors student in your major.

The APSU Faculty Handbook (https://www.apsu.edu/academic-affairs/faculty/faculty_handbook/) and the APSU Student Handbook (https://www.apsu.edu/handbook/) both have sections on student rights and faculty-student expectations. Familiarize yourself carefully with these documents. APSU Policy 3:001 governs student rights and freedoms.

As chair, faculty members may well come to you with concerns about student behavior.  Student behavior can be concerning in several ways.  The behavior might be disruptive for a particular class, or it might not fall into the category of misconduct but cause you to be concerned about the welfare of the student.  APSU has a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT).  To report a concern to the BIT use the Incident/Complaint Form: 

  1. Go to apsu.edu/student-affairs.
  2. Click on Report a Concern
  3. Select Behavioral Intervention Team tab.
  4. Click the link within the text for the form.

Reporting a concern to the BIT does not “get the student into trouble.”  From the BIT Brochure:  “The BIT takes reports form the campus community and as a group we determine what services the University can offer that may help a distressed student.”

You can also make a direct referral of a student to APSU Counseling Services.  

Here is a link to Services and Resources (from the APSU Health and Counseling Web Page):  https://www.apsu.edu/health-and-counseling/counseling/servicesoffered/emergency.php

Guidelines for talking with students in distress may be found here:


Although rare, sometimes faculty are faced with disruptive students in the classroom.  From the Faculty Handbook:

The instructor has the primary responsibility for control over classroom behavior and maintenance of academic integrity and can order the temporary removal or exclusion from the classroom of any student engaged in disruptive conduct or conduct inconsistent with the general rules and regulations of the institution. Extended or permanent exclusion from the classroom or further disciplinary action can be effected only through appropriate procedures established by the Division of Student Affairs. 

Student Affairs maintains a Faculty/Staff Resource Guide for Disruptive Students (https://www.apsu.edu/student-affairs/dean-of-students/student-conduct/Faculty_and_Staff_Resource_Guide_for_Disruptive_Students.pdf). This resource guide contains, in a concise format, detailed advice for dealing with various issues concerning student behavior and strategies for preventing problems.  The resource guide contains links to the forms for temporary exclusion and permanent exclusion. 

Students suspected or accused of academic misconduct must be afforded due process, and the university has a very well-defined and specific procedure which must be followed by faculty in the event of student academic misconduct.  This procedure is described in the Faculty Handbook.  The actual policy is APSU Policy 3:005 Student Academic and Classroom Misconduct. A sample form for initiating action in the event of academic misconduct may be found here:  https://www.apsu.edu/policy/3s_student_policies/pdfs/3005AddendumtoPolicy.pdf

As chair, you may receive communication from the parents or guardians of students.  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) limits your ability to release information to parents.  You can refer parents and guardians to this site for information on FERPA:  https://www.apsu.edu/parents/student-info.php.  If a parent or guardian states that their student has signed a FERPA waiver, you must confirm this by calling the Office of the Registrar before discussing confidential information with the parent.  APSU’s formal confidentiality policy is Policy 1:020.

As chair, you will deal with student complaints, which can arise from a variety of situations.  A student may dispute a grade, may feel that he/she has been treated inappropriately in class, may find the behavior of a classmate objectionable, may object to the particular instructional methods used in class, etc.  Always listen respectfully and without interruption.  Make notes.  Do not make a snap judgment.  You can listen carefully and respectfully without taking sides or agreeing/disagreeing with the student or defending/criticizing the instructor. 

Never ignore complaints and hope they will go away.  It is easier to deal with student complaints sooner rather than later.   A slight exception might be if a student comes to your office angry and without an appointment.  Making an appointment with the student to come back a few hours (not days!) later is sometimes wise.  It will give you and the student a chance to take a few deep breaths and think before discussing the issue.

Be aware that sometimes things are not what they seem.  For example, on one occasion a chair received a complaint that an instructor did not know how to use the required technology in the class (a calculator in this particular class).  The chair, upon visiting the classroom observed that the instructor managed the technology at the instructor console very well, but that the student who made the complaint was using an older model calculator that was not supported by the instructor.  The problem was that the student didn’t have the appropriate calculator.  The student’s perception of the problem was that the instructor didn’t know how to use the technology.  After class, the chair met with the student privately and arranged for the student to borrow (without cost) a calculator for the rest of the semester.  The point is that you can assure a student that you will investigate their concerns without making any promises.  In some cases, if you dig a little deeper, it may be relatively simple to resolve the situation.

Become familiar with the Student Appeals and Procedures and the various types of grievance and appeal procedures at APSU https://www.apsu.edu/student-affairs/dean-of-students/student-appeals-and-complaint-procedures/index.php  The Dean of Students collects a log of written student complaints from each relevant office and department at the end of each semester.  Contact the Dean of Students to find out more.

If a student comes to you with a complaint of harassment (sexual or otherwise) or discrimination there are policies that you must be sure to follow.  In this regard, you and your faculty are required to complete Title IX training annually.  The instructions for on-line training are emailed to faculty each year, and the training specifies precisely the procedures you must follow if students come to you with complaints of discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct.   In particular, in the case of sexual misconduct, you MUST report this.  From the Faculty Handbook:

The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 416 College Student, Clarksville, TN 37044, bryantsm@apsu.edu. Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended. The University’s Title IX Coordinator, designated to monitor and oversee Title IX complaints, is LaNeeca Williams, Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator, 416 College Street, Clarksville, TN 37044, williamslr@apsu.edu. The University’s Equal Opportunity Compliance Officer and Investigator designated to investigate complaints of harassment and discrimination is Steven Grudzinski, 416 College Student, Clarksville, TN 37044, grudzinskis@apsu.edu.

Please report complaints to the Office of Equity, Access & Inclusion https://apsu.edu/equity-access/.

Most student complaints will be about classroom procedures or grades.  In these cases a good first strategy is to suggest that the student speak one-on-one with the faculty member concerning the issue.  Surprisingly, in many cases you will find that the student has not already done this.  If not, advise the student to make an appointment with the instructor or visit during office hours to discuss the situation.  Ask the student to send you an email or make an appointment with you as a follow-up to the student’s conversation with the instructor, so you can find out if the situation is resolved.  It is also helpful to make sure the student knows about resources available to help them with the class such as tutoring in the Learning Resource Center (https://www.apsu.edu/lrc/), the Writing Lab in the library, etc.

In all situations involving student complaints, keep a meticulous paper trail of all communication with the student and the faculty member concerning the situation.  A student who feels that their concern has not been resolved has a right to file a grievance in accordance with university policy.