Academic Procedures

Academic affairs office

Lamar Nisly, Vice president and dean of academic affairs
419-358-3317, 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, Center for Career and Vocation, 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 the director of the Center for Career and Vocation. 

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 contact must be made within 20 class days after the next term begins. 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 10 class days after the dean of academic affairs confirms that the dispute is not resolved to the student's satisfaction 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.

Student athlete missed class policies and procedures
Background. Bluffton University is a NCAA Division III school. As the University considers the relationship between the academic and athletic programs, it is guided by the following assumptions:

  • academics are the primary focus for DIII student-athletes
  • considerations related to practice times, length of playing season, number of contests and location of athletic contests shape the DIII program and are designed to reduce time away from academic studies
  • there will be times when conflicts between the requirements of the NCAA DIII athletic program and the student's academic program occur
  • these conflicts should be minimized and care taken to respect the academic program
  • representatives of the athletic program, student life program and the academic program are committed to holding the student's interest as the primary focus
  • the HCAC and NCAA are responsible to determine the minimum requirements for athletes and competitions


Athletic Program Schedule

  • The director of athletics will provide to the faculty athletic representative and the academic dean via email at least one month prior to the start of a sport's season, a listing of all competition in that sport which will necessitate student‐athletes being absent from class. This listing will include the time and date of competition, destination, approximate departure time [if known], and competition. The faculty athletics representative or the academic dean may request that modifications to the travel plans to be made.
  • For home competition, student athletes shall not miss any classes prior to two hours before the scheduled competition time. For away competition with same day travel, student athletes shall not miss any classes prior to 30 minutes before the scheduled time of departure. For away competition with overnight travel, no team shall depart more than 30 hours prior to the time of competition.
  • No competition will be scheduled on any day on which final examinations are scheduled unless prior approval has been received from the academic vice president. Exceptions to the above statements for special tournaments and competitions, including championship play, must be approved by the faculty athletics representative and the academic dean.
  • The director of athletics must approve athletic contest schedules changed as a result of weather.


Responsibility of the Student Athlete

  • Student athletes will present to their instructors information about missed class and lab sessions at the beginning of each semester.
  • Student athletes will remind their instructors one week before their absence.
  • Student athletes will make arrangements for any class assignments that will be missed.
  • Student athletes will be responsible for submitting all assignments on time.
  • Student athletes, in association with their academic advisor, will create a schedule that, as much as possible, meets the needs of their academic and athletic responsibilities.


Responsibility of the Coach

  • Coaches will provide faculty with a game-day roster and departure time for contests at least 48 hours in advance of travel.
  • When athletic contests are rescheduled as a result of weather, coaches will notify faculty of schedule changes.
  • Coaches will not penalize student athletes for missing practices due to conflicts with regularly scheduled classes or class‐related field trips (within reason) for which student‐athletes are enrolled.
  • Student athletes will not be required to attend any practice/activities that result in a missed scheduled class or final exam. Activities considered practice include:
    • Preparation and conditioning time (weight training, running, etc.)
    • Training room time (rehab, taping, etc.)
    • Meetings (to include individual film watching)
    • On-field practice


Responsibility of Faculty

  • Faculty members will not penalize student athletes for missing classes due to conflicts with contractually scheduled athletic contests and related travel.
  • Faculty will work with student athletes to make arrangements for missed tests and in-class assignments.
  • Faculty members will not penalize student athletes for missing classes due to conflicts with emergency medical appointments that result from athletics-related injuries.
  • When class-related field trips are scheduled and conflict with athletic practices, faculty will email coaches with details of the field trip a minimum of 48 hours ahead of the scheduled date.


Process related to these guidelines

  • Student athletes who believe that they have received a lack of reasonable accommodation of the provisions of this missed class policy by a faculty member may immediately appeal to the appropriate academic department chair, then may appeal to the academic dean.
  • Student athletes who believe that they have received a lack of reasonable accommodation of the provisions of this missed class policy by a coach may bring this matter to the attention of the athletics director or to the faculty athletics representative.
  • Faculty having any questions about the application of these statements may contact the faculty athletics representative or the academic dean.
  • These guidelines will be reviewed regularly by the director of athletics, the academic dean, and the faculty athletics representative.
  • The guidelines will be included in the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, Athletic Department Policy Manual, and individual team player notebooks.

Approved by Athletic Advisory Committee October 30, 2012
Contact Information: Faculty Athletics Representative, Darryl Nester
Director of Athletics, Phill Talavinia
Academic Dean, Sally Weaver Sommer

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 Catalog