STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRY

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EDUCATIONAL POLICIES:
THE PROFESSIONAL O.D. PROGRAM

(last updated 02/03/2014)


Faculty Responsibilities

Prior to the commencement of all courses, the instructor of record (IOR) must provide a course syllabus, placed on an electronic course management system, (referred to below in its current form, as Moodle) that includes the following:

  1. Course title and description
  2. Statement of goal(s) and learning objectives
  3. Required and recommended readings
    (A copy of this listing should be sent to the library)
  4. Statement of the grading policy including a listing of examinations with dates, criteria for the assignment of grades, and method for determination of the final grade
  5. Course outline listing topics to be covered with the planned dates
  6. Statement of attendance requirements
  7. Instructor contact information including office hours

Faculty Office Hours

All faculty members are expected to be available for conferences with students by appointment or during stated office hours when students/faculty are not otherwise assigned (i.e. lecture, lab, clinic or research activities.) Conferences may be requested either by instructors or students.

Curriculum

All new courses (including electives) or any major modifications proposed to the curriculum must be submitted through the Curriculum Committee. Current curriculum information and course descriptions are published annually in the College Catalog and presented on the college website.

Course Credits

Credit for coursework will be computed as follows:
One lecture hour = one credit.
Two laboratory hours = one credit.
Three clinic hours = one credit.  

Class Scheduling

Class scheduling is the responsibility of the registrar and the Office of Academic Affairs. Schedules will be distributed to chairpersons, clinic chiefs, students and faculty prior to the beginning of the term.

Schedules will not be changed without written approval by both the department chairs and the dean for academic affairs. If it becomes necessary to change a lecture or laboratory schedule (lengthening, shortening, adding, canceling or rescheduling), the proposed changes must be made at least five working days prior to the lecture or laboratory and cleared by the registrar to avoid conflicts with other courses. It is the responsibility of the IOR to communicate directly with the students regarding any modifications of class schedule, time or location. Permanent changes, after being approved by the Office of Academic Affairs, will be communicated by the registrar.
If it becomes necessary to cover course material because of scheduling conflicts, occasional exchanges of scheduled class times between courses may be done with the permission of the department chairs. Care must be taken because there are some classes that do not have the full roster of students in attendance.

Elective Courses

Elective courses will be offered to students from a catalog of courses approved by the Curriculum Committee and maintained by the Office of Academic Affairs and registrar. Courses will be opened for registration prior to the term and filled on a first-come-first-serve basis until limits are reached.  

Elective courses will be graded on an "honors-pass-fail" basis. The instructor shall provide the student with a statement of the criteria for awarding grades in the course syllabus.
If a student withdraws from an elective course within one week of the first meeting, no notice shall appear on the transcript. If a student withdraws after this period, a "W" shall appear on the transcript indicating withdrawal.

Guest Lectures

IORs may retain the services of guest lecturers with specific expertise on a particular topic. Guest lecturers may not work for or represent industry in the delivery of specific material without permission of the department chairs and dean for academic affairs. Funds for payment for guest lecturers come from departmental budgets and must be requested and approved by the department chair prior to the term the course is taught.

Attendance in Courses and Clinic

Policies regarding attendance in courses are determined by the IOR. A clear statement of the policy and its use in grading will be articulated to the students in the course syllabus and at the beginning of class. Unless explicitly stated, attendance in classes, seminars or laboratories, is at the discretion of the student, who is responsible for all requirements, including those requiring participation, all materials and assignments covered in the course. Students missing any class, seminar, lab, or clinic may not expect special accommodations without prior specific requests to, and approval by, the IOR, who has full discretion on such matters.

Attendance in clinic assignments is always mandatory. Procedures for dealing with anticipated absence or disciplinary action for failure to follow these procedures are established and communicated to the students by the Department of Clinical Education.

Leave from Courses and Clinic

Students wishing to attend international, national or state-wide optometric activities or major academic meetings on days when classes and/or clinics are scheduled must request an excused absence for the activities they will be missing. Students must make the request in writing at least four weeks in advance to the course IOR and/or respective service chief(s) (for internal clinics), or primary clinic supervisor (for external clinics).

Students with excused absences are still responsible for any missed material or assignments and may be required to switch sections to make up a missed lab or clinic. Any excused absence will be granted at the discretion of the IOR, service chief or external site supervisor, and may be denied if it coincides with a written test, quiz or practical assessment, or if the student’s course performance is determined to be unsatisfactory. Any change in class or testing schedule to accommodate an excused absence is at the discretion of the IOR. If a large percentage of the class seeks permission to attend an activity at the same time, the instructor may elect to reschedule or hold class at his or her discretion. Students are responsible for making up any examinations or assessments that may be missed during their absence.

Students observing religious holidays on days when classes and/or clinics are scheduled will be excused attendance on those days. However, to be excused, students must notify the IOR of these dates at the beginning of the semester or as soon as the syllabus is available. Students are responsible for any missed material, requirements, labs or clinics, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that any missed examinations or assessments are made up.

Students may appeal a decision on a request for excused absence in writing to the dean for academic affairs.

Leave of Absence

Upon petition in writing to the dean for academic affairs, a student in good standing may be granted up to a one-year leave of absence for extenuating circumstances.

Course Exemption

The requirements for exemption are at the discretion of the IOR. The basis of the determination is typically either (a) evidence of prior satisfactory completion of equivalent coursework or (b) the passing of a prerequisite examination. Upon the granting of an exemption, the instructor should forward a written statement to the registrar indicating the basis of the exemption. Such students will receive the letter "X" on the transcript in place of a grade for the course.

Auditing Courses

Permission to audit is on a space-available basis, in compliance with appropriate state statutes, and is at the discretion of the IOR. The auditor shall attend without formal recognition (i.e. transcript credit.)

Requests to audit are handled by the Office of Student Affairs, which shall communicate with the appropriate department chair and IOR of the course being requested for audit.

Examinations

The SUNY College of Optometry Policy on Examinations is designed to minimize conflicts between examinations and other assessments of students during a given semester. For this policy, an examination is defined as a written assessment that requires a full class session for completion. A quiz is considered to be a single short written or oral assessment used to contribute not more than 10% to a final grade and that does not require a full class session for completion. A lab practical/assessment is essentially a non-written assessment of laboratory concepts that takes place during the laboratory portion of the course using materials or procedures taught in the laboratory. Written assessments of laboratory concepts, whether they are in the laboratory or classroom, are considered to be examinations or quizzes, depending on scope, and will be administered according to the following policy statements:

  • All procedures for student assessment and the determination of the final grade for each course must be clearly defined in the course syllabus.
  • All course syllabi must be posted on Moodle prior to the beginning of the semester and communicated to the students on the first day of class.
  • The dates and times of all examinations and lab practicals, and whether there is a midterm or final examination, must be clearly stated in the syllabus. Defined dates for quizzes are recommended but not required.
  • All examination and lab practical dates are fixed and registered in a master calendar at the beginning of the semester and may not be changed without a written request from the IOR/course coordinator and approval from the Office of Academic Affairs.
  • The dates and times of all midterms and finals are determined by the registrar and, once finalized, are not subject to change. Midterms and Finals weeks are posted on the Academic Calendar, which is available prior to the Academic Year.
  • With the exception of lab practicals, no examinations or quizzes are permitted the weeks before or after midterms week, or the week before finals week. If a course has a midterm and/or final, it must be scheduled during midterm or final weeks.
  • In order to ensure that the overall schedule of assessments during any given semester is as reasonably balanced as possible, the Office of Academic Affairs will examine the schedule of assessments at the beginning of the semester and may initiate discussions with instructors regarding the timing of assessments. It is understood, however, that there may be days when scheduling more than one assessment, or scheduling assessments on back-to-back days, is unavoidable.
  • For security, all examination grades must only be posted electronically via Moodle. (Final course grades will be posted through the student portal on my.sunyopt.edu.) 

Instructor Responsibility Regarding Cheating and Unethical Behavior

The instructor has the responsibility of providing testing and assessment conditions that are conducive to ethical and professional behavior. (Refer to sections of the Student Handbook for judicial policies and procedures relating to suspected unethical and/or unprofessional student conduct.)

Retention of Examinations and Clinical Evaluation Forms

Policies and procedures regarding student review or retention of assessment material are at the discretion of the IOR. If an instructor permits students to retain exams, a copy should also be placed in the library.

Written records of course assignments and assessments will be retained by the IOR for a period of at least 12 months following the completion of the class. After that period, the examinations should be discarded in a secure manner.

Grading

In each course, including laboratories and clinical internships, there will be established criteria for the assignment of grades. Faculty will provide timely, informative feedback from assignments, exams and other assessments as soon as possible and before the final, summative grade is issued. In addition, the IOR in collaboration with the Committee on Course & Standing and the Office of Academic Affairs, will identify and communicate with students considered by course instructors of record to be at risk after the midterm period.
Student course performance shall be reported on transcripts as:

A

Superior or excellent

B

Very Good (above average)

C

Average; minimally competent

D

Below Average (marginally competent)

F

Failure

X

Credit by exemption (not used in calculating GPA)

NC

No Credit (not used in calculating GPA)

W

Withdrew voluntarily (no credit, not used in calculating GPA)

U

Unsatisfactory/Failure (no credit, not used in calculating GPA

P

Pass (credit, not used in calculating GPA)

H

Pass with honors (credit, not used in calculating GPA)

J

In Progress (temporary grade assigned when a course extends across terms and is replaced by a permanent grade at completion of the entire course)

I

Incomplete (student failed to complete the requirements of the course in the required time)

Grade Posting

Student grades are posted in accordance with the policy on examinations described above, and in a manner that will maintain confidentiality. There shall be no unauthorized disclosure of grades.

Grade Submission

Final grades must be delivered and posted electronically as instructed by the registrar within one week of either the final examination date or of the date of the last class if no exam is given. Grades must be submitted electronically by the instructor through the student portal on my.sunyopt.edu.

Grade Changes

Grade changes for supplemental grades such as for the completion of "I" grades or for "F" grades and corrections of grades must be submitted by the instructor to the registrar on the "Grade Change Form" available from The Office of Student Affairs, and signed by the appropriate department chair and dean for academic affairs.

Final grades may be changed by the course IOR only in the event that the original grade issued was in error. The reason for the grade change must be documented in detail.
Grades may not be changed for any other reason, including (but not limited to the following reasons):

  • Preventing a student from being placed on academic probation, being dismissed or remaining on probation. 
  • Enabling a student to graduate.
  • Enabling a student to maintain academic eligibility/status for financial aid.
  • Personal issues unrelated to academics.

Grade Appeals

A student may appeal a grade if they believe it is in error. The initial appeal must be made to the IOR within one week of receiving that grade. This period may be extended by appeal to the dean for academic affairs in extraordinary circumstances.

No grade appeal, under any circumstance, will be accepted from a third party, including the students’ parents. This policy conforms to the privacy requirements outlined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). 

In the event that the IOR is unavailable to change a grade, or if a student wishes to appeal a decision by the IOR not to change the final grade, the student must contact the appropriate department chair in writing, who will review the case and make a decision. The student may appeal a grade decision of the department chair by applying in writing to the dean for academic affairs who will review the case and make a final decision.

All official communications about grade appeals will be sent to students by electronic mail (with delivery confirmation) so that a record of delivery exists, and appropriate faculty members will be similarly notified.

Course Remediation

Students may not proceed in the program with grades of "F," "U" and “I” in required courses. These grades must be remediated within 4 weeks following the end of the academic term unless a student is placed into a special academic program determined by the Committee on Course Standing working with the dean for academic affairs.

For grades of “F,” “U” or “I”, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor to arrange for equivalent course work, including the scheduling of an appropriate examination for credit and a final grade for the course. If there are difficulties because of the IOR is unavailable, the student must contact the appropriate department chair. If the student is unable to comply with this requirement in a clinical sequence because of problems of clinic scheduling, he/she may petition the instructor for an extension with the concurrence of the appropriate department chair and dean for academic affairs.

The new grade will appear on the student's transcript with indication of the original grade. All grades for any repeated portion of the professional curriculum will remain on the transcript. Both grades will be used to calculate the grade point average (GPA) except in the circumstances that the student repeats a portion of the professional curriculum, resulting in his/her anticipated date of graduation being delayed by a year. In this case, the grade(s) in the repeated course(s) and not the original grade(s) will be used to calculate the grade point average. Under such circumstances, the student will be ineligible for college scholarships that are based on grade point average. Any grade received during and after the repeated portion of the professional curriculum will remain on the transcript and will be calculated in the GPA and all policies regarding academic eligibility and course and standing will apply.

For students on academic probation with special programs, the dean for academic affairs, in conjunction with the Course and Standing Committee, may mandate specific criteria (such as a specified GPA or minimum course grades) for the student to advance following the repeated portion of the academic program. 

Student Grievances

Students who have an academic grievance for any reason should proceed as follows:

  • Students should first attempt to resolve disputes concerning grading, course work, clinic or other academic policies at the level at which the dispute occurred (IOR, Clinic Supervisor, Service Chief, etc.)
  • For disputes involving clinic, the student is encouraged to seek the assistance of the appropriate faculty (IOR for Third Year Clinic, IOR for Fourth Year Clinic, Director Externships).
  • If a satisfactory result or a final decision cannot be reached, the student may bring the issue to the attention of the appropriate department chair (Biological and Vision Sciences or Clinical Education).
  • The student has the right to appeal a decision of the department chair by applying in writing to the dean for academic affairs who will review the case and make a final decision.

Academic Advancement

Students must achieve passing grades in all courses before advancing to the next academic year. If other than a passing grade is received ("F", “U” or "I"), it must be remediated as described above or in a manner determined by the Committee on Course and Standing and the dean for academic affairs. These decisions may be modified on an individual basis by appeal upon recommendation of the chairperson and with the final approval of the dean for academic affairs. 

Evaluation of Student Academic Performance

Evaluation of student academic performance is done through the Office of Academic Affairs, the registrar, and the Committee on Course and Standing. The Committee on Course and Standing meets with the dean for academic affairs at the conclusion of each semester to review student academic performance. When a student's performance is less than satisfactory as defined by criteria below, the committee may recommend the issuance of a letter of concern, probation, retaking course work or dismissal. In cases where a student is ineligible to advance (see below), the committee may recommend special requirements for retention.

When a student is on probation or in a special academic program, the committee will review the student's performance and may recommend removal of probation or dismissal on academic grounds if performance indicates. Students having academic difficulties are considered individually by the committee and recommendations are made to the dean for academic affairs. The dean will make final decisions after considering the recommendations of the faculty and the committee and will then communicate decisions to the student and the committee.

Students for whom action other than advancement has been recommended shall have the opportunity to communicate information directly to the Course and Standing Committee in person or by written statement when the committee is considering such action and before a recommendation is made. See below for more information.

Academic Probation

The dean for academic affairs, in consultation with the Committee on Course and Standing, may place a student on academic probation if the student’s current level of achievement is deemed seriously deficient.* Academic probation is mandatory; however, when:

  1. The term GPA falls below 2.00; or,
  2. The cumulative GPA falls below 2.00; or,
  3. A grade of "F" is earned for any clinic (third- or fourth-year clinics), whether on or off campus; or,
  4. Two grades of “F” are earned in an academic term; or,
  5. Three grades of "D" or below are earned in an academic term.

*If a student fails any course that has a clinical laboratory component, consideration of academic probation is mandatory.

Placement on probation will appear on the academic transcript.

Ineligibility to Advance

The dean for academic affairs, in consultation with the Committee on Course and Standing, may determine that a student is ineligible to advance in the Professional OD Program** when he/she is deemed incapable of fulfilling institutional or academic requirements in a timely manner. Ineligibility to advance in the professional program, however, is automatic when:

  1. Two grades of "F" are earned in the same course, regardless of whether the course was remediated or retaken; or
  2. Two consecutive grades of "F" are earned in clinic (third- and fourth-year clinics), whether on or off campus; or
  3. The term or cumulative GPA is less than 2.00 after having been on probation for three consecutive quarters/two semesters; or
  4. The term G.P.A. is 1.00 or less

** A student who is ineligible to advance in the professional program is subject to academic dismissal or may be required to satisfactorily repeat portions of the curriculum.

Academic Dismissal

Dismissal is reserved for those situations where the student is deemed incapable of fulfilling institutional or academic requirements in a timely manner. When the Committee on Course and Standing is considering a student for academic dismissal, the student shall be notified in writing by the Office for Academic Affairs that such a recommendation is to be considered. The student shall, at his/her option, have the opportunity to (a) voluntarily withdraw from the program, (b) submit a written statement of mitigating circumstances to the committee for its consideration, or (c) appear personally to explain any mitigating circumstance before the Committee on Course & Standing makes its recommendation to the dean for academic affairs. The student will have the opportunity to meet with the dean or academic affairs to review his/her case.

Appeal of Academic Dismissal

A student who wishes to appeal the decision of academic dismissal may do so to the president of the College within one week following his/her verbal or written notification of dismissal by the dean for academic affairs, whichever is earlier. The president will consider such appeal, which shall be presented in writing by the student.

Readmitted Student

For the student who is separated from the College because of academic problems, or voluntarily leaves and then is readmitted, the following will apply:

  1. The student’s transcript will contain his/her complete academic record at the College. A notation will appear indicating the date and the reason for separation e.g. leave of absence, withdrawal, dismissal, etc., as well as the notation and date of readmission.
  2. Grades for all years attended, including unsuccessful quarters or year(s) will remain on the transcript. All grades, with the exception of the initial grade in repeated courses, will be utilized in calculating the cumulative GPA.
  3. If a student is readmitted, the Committee on Admissions or the Committee on Course & Standing may recommend the conditions under which the student is readmitted, e.g. all courses repeated, exemptions granted for course(s) previously passed, etc.

Students Repeating a Year of Study

For the student that is required to repeat a full year(s) of study, the following will apply:

  1. A notation will be made on the transcript indicating the year(s) being repeated.
  2. All courses that are being repeated will be indicated with a “Y” after the grade received.
  3. Grades for all years attended will remain on the transcript. All grades, with the exception of the initial grade in repeated courses, will be utilized in calculating the cumulative GPA.

Disciplinary Action
Students are subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal from the College, for actions deemed inappropriate according to the Policy on Ethical Conduct, as adopted by the College Council and distributed to all students in the Student Handbook. 
Class Ranking
The college computes and maintains records of students' class rank. It is placed on student transcripts, which are available as requested by the student.
Class rank, to be a valid barometer of a student's performance, must be computed properly. Therefore, the following guidelines are used:

  1. Computation of the GPA shall be rounded to no more than two decimal places (hundredths) for the purpose of determining class rank.
  2. Students having the same GPA shall be reported as having identical class ranks representative of their grouped data.
  3. If class rank is to be reported to external agencies, it shall first be grouped in deciles and the decile rank shall be reported with an explanation that we have chosen this method to avoid creating distinctions that are not significant.

Dean’s List

The Dean’s List recognizes those students whose term grade point average is 3.25 or higher. Students on Academic Probation are not eligible. The Office of Academic Affairs will notify students on the Dean’s List in writing after each term in which they qualify.

Special Students

Space permitting, Non-matriculated students may attend courses for credit on a part-time basis and pay tuition on a per-credit basis.

All requests by individuals for special student status should be referred to the Office of Student Affairs, which will provide an application form. The application form will be sent to the instructor of the particular course(s) who will evaluate it on the basis of: (1) Whether the course can accommodate the student, and (2) Whether the student's background is suitable for the course. The approval of the appropriate department chair and the dean for academic affairs is required subsequent to the instructor's approval.

If the application is approved, the student must register with the Office of Student Affairs and pay all necessary tuition charges.

Requirements for Graduation

A student must receive a passing grade for every required course in the curriculum (including clinics) and at least a 2.0 grade-point average in order to be considered for graduation. A student on probation is ineligible to graduate.

Availability of Academic Records

Students may request copies of their transcripts for themselves or for third parties. Requests must be made in writing and the contact information provided.

At the request of the president or dean, term reports and written instructor comments may be made available.

Transcripts from the SUNY College of Optometry will be provided to members of the Course and Standing Committee. The committee, by vote, may request a student’s transcripts from previous institutions attended, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation. The registrar, or a person designated by the registrar, shall be responsible for distributing and collecting all documents, and copies thereof, which are utilized Committee on Course and Standing meetings. All such documents and copies must be returned to the registrar or designee prior to the end of the meeting.

The chairperson at any meeting where student records are reviewed and discussed must inform all present about the necessity to maintain confidentiality of all student records and of the proceedings of the meeting.

Student academic records, scores and grades may be used for educational research only as part of de-identified group data. Proposals for educational research involving student records must comply with FERPA regulations and will be evaluated by the dean for academic affairs in consultation with the vice president for student affairs and the president of the Student Council.
Proposals for use of student data for educational research must include:

  • A statement of the objective of the study.
  • The qualifications of the individual or group conducting the study.
  • A description of the methodology to be employed.
  • A signed statement assuring confidentiality of all data.
  • Assurance that data will only be reported as de-identified group data.

Textbooks and Readings

Instructors of Record must include a list of all required readings and textbooks in the course syllabus and make it available prior to the beginning of the term. Required textbooks will be made available in the library reserves. A list of required texts, and any other materials for the course requiring time to acquire, should be provided to the department chairs and a compiled list of all required texts and materials will be provided to the students through the Office of Student Affairs in advance of the term for dissemination to the students.

Procedures for Changing Educational Policy

This document may be modified as specified in the Faculty Bylaws.
NOTE: This document will be maintained by the chairperson of the Educational Policy Committee with the assistance of the dean for academic affairs.

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