Academic Procedures

Academic affairs office
Sally Weaver Sommer, 

Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs
Ext. 3317, College Hall

The vice president and dean of academic affairs oversees the academic program of the university. Specific areas of responsibility include: academic advising, academic departments, adult degree completion program, assessment, cross-cultural programs, faculty development, Forum, general education program, graduate programs, honors program, Learning Resource Center, Lion & Lamb Peace Arts Center, library, and the registrar's office.

Student responsibility
The responsibility for planning her/his academic program largely rests on the student. Information on the courses of instruction and other academic announcements must be reviewed carefully in order for the student to take the required courses at the right time. The counseling services of faculty advisors, department chairpersons, the registrar and the deans are available to assist students.

Academic advising
The academic advising program at Bluffton University is based on the premise that significant learning and growth can occur within the context of a close relationship between students and advisors. Academic advising provides assistance to the student in forming realistic and appropriate educational goals and in selecting an academic program directed toward these goals.

First-year students who have decided on a major are assigned to an advisor within the department in which they plan to major.  First year students who have not yet chosen a major are advised by their first year seminar professor. 

Transfer students who have decided on a major are assigned to an advisor in their department.  The registrar advises transfer students who have not yet chosen a major.

It is recommended that all students declare a major by the second half of their sophomore year. Many students will declare majors during the advising forum at the beginning of their first year. Those who do not declare a major at that time or want to change their major later on should make an appointment with the chairperson of the department housing the desired major. At this meeting the student will be assigned an advisor within the department.

Students are expected to register for courses on the official registration days, as noted on the academic calendar. Registration material, including instructions, course schedules, faculty assignments and registration dates, is e-mailed to continuing students by the registrar's office.

Grade appeals and academic grievance procedures
A Bluffton University student who feels that a final course grade has been unfairly or erroneously assigned has a right to appeal. The student should first discuss the grade with the professor who assigned it. The student must contact the professor as soon as possible after the disputed grade is issued and no later than 10 class days after the next term begins. After talking with the professor, if the student is still convinced that the grade is an unfair or erroneous evaluation of the student s performance, the student should contact the academic dean. The academic dean will talk with the student, the professor and the department chair to attempt to arrive at a mutually satisfactory settlement of the disagreement. If the dispute is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, the student may initiate a formal grade appeal:

  • No later than 20 class days after initially contacting the dean of academic affairs the student should file with the academic dean a written appeal which includes:
    • a statement of the nature of the complaint
    • the evidence, if any, on which the complaint is based; and
    • the redress or remedy that the student seeks.
  • Upon receiving the written appeal, the academic dean will impanel a hearing committee composed of three faculty members and one student. The academic dean will select one faculty member from the faculty at large and one faculty member each from lists of three faculty submitted by the student and the professor. The student will be nominated by the Student Senate.
  • The hearing committee will review written statements and information supplied by the student and professor. Both the student and the professor have the right, but are not obligated, to make a personal appearance before the panel. All discussions and written statements will be treated as strictly confidential. The hearing committee has the power to make recommendations to the professor, the student and/or the academic dean.


Typically the faculty member has the responsibility to determine the final grade for the course. In the event that the faculty member does not follow the recommendation of the hearing committee, the committee may petition the academic dean who, in consultation with and under the direction of the president of the university, will make the final determination.

Academic grievances over matters other than final grades should follow the general procedures outlined for final grade disputes.

Certain Bluffton University academic departments and professional programs may use additional procedures for grade appeals and academic grievances.

Approved by administrative staff July 30, 1992.

Class attendance
Students are expected to attend all scheduled class sessions. Students are directly responsible for all required work in each course, including work missed because of absence.

Final exam policy
In order to guarantee a fair and efficient final examination program, the Bluffton faculty has agreed to uniform procedures in administering final examinations. It is the policy of the university to not make exceptions to the final examination schedule, except in rare cases.

Students may petition for a change in final examination schedule for one of the following reasons:

  • Three exams in one day
  • A death in the immediate family
  • Serious illness
  • University-sponsored extra- curricular commitments
  • Emergency or extreme circumstances not covered above.

Any changes in the schedule must be requested in writing by the student and approved by the associate or academic dean.  Request forms may be picked up at the registrar's office and should generally be returned to the registrar's office at least one week prior to the beginning of the examination period.

Records policy
See privacy rights in the university Catalog