Absence Policy

College of Music Policy on Absences during the Semester and Outside Work for Pay


Responsibilities for faculty appointed on an academic year basis (AY) commence on August 16 and continue through the conclusion of the examination period in the Spring Semester.  There is an expectation that all instructional staff will meet each scheduled class and will provide scheduled lessons on a regular basis each week of each 15-week semester.

Instructional staff are to be available for consultation, planning, and meetings prior to the first day of class.  While it is expected that all instructional staff will be present (with approved exceptions) for all regularly scheduled instructional and College assignments, there are certain times of the semester that are especially crucial.  These include the beginning of classes each semester, during regularly scheduled audition dates, and toward the end of the semester including the examination period.

On occasion, other than for illness, faculty are absent from regularly scheduled classes and lessons.  Members of the College of Music faculty have always been encouraged to accept occasional professional engagements, with or without compensation, provided regularly assigned duties are carried on satisfactorily.  If outside the Greater Lansing Area, permission must be obtained from the Dean on Form ABSENCES at the beginning of the relevant semester for all proposed absences longer than one week.

Indeed, a reasonable amount of such activity is expected in accordance with the Criteria and Procedures for Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure.  Further activities of this type are annually valued and reported on the College of Music Faculty Information Form for merit pay consideration.  Reasons for such absences include the following:

  • to attend a professional conference
  • to present a paper
  • to present a master class or clinic
  • to present a concert
  • to accept a prestigious invitation to participate in an event that benefits the career of the faculty member and the University
  • to engage in other activities relating to approved outreach; creative, scholarly, and research efforts; and for recruiting purposes

The above are typically scheduled to avoid missing regularly scheduled instruction.  On occasion, this is not possible.

Because it is the responsibility of each college dean to ensure that students are provided the instruction to which they are entitled and because it is helpful for the office in responding in inquiries, phone calls, etc. of individuals wishing to reach faculty, it is necessary for full-time faculty who are planning to be away from East Lansing to inform the Dean.  Further, it is necessary to discuss the proposed absence prior to the semester in which it will occur to ensure that suitable arrangements are made, guaranteeing that students receive the kind of instruction to which they are entitled.  In some instances, this may require making appropriate arrangements to have other instructional staff with the necessary qualifications and training to provide the scheduled instruction.  Such absences and instructional arrangements should be discussed with the relevant Area Chairperson(s) for his/her consultation and approval prior to submitting the approval for absence form to the Dean.

Form ABSENCES must be submitted for this purpose.  This requirement is not intended to limit the freedom of the faculty member to participate in professional activities, nor is it intended to infringe on her/his personal rights or responsibilities.  Official notification of absences is needed in order to respond to inquiries that often arise while faculty are away and to facilitate the orderly administration of the College of Music.

To the extent possible, notification for absences due to illness is also an expectation.

Certain types of absences may require faculty to fill out an Outside Work for Pay Form.  The policy regarding this type of absence and arrangement as determined by the College of Music Advisory Committee after consulting with the faculty on April 15, 1993 and reconfirmed by the Advisory Committee on September 27, 1995 is as follows:

            “After having reviewed documents that explicate University policy on outside work for pay and having discussed this policy with members of the College of Music faculty and administration, the Advisory Committee recommends that:

  • the Dean inform any College of Music faculty member of University policy concerning outside work for pay whenever that faculty member requests such information concerning his/her own activities or whenever the Dean deems this informational action to be appropriate;
  • the College of Music maintain its current mode of adherence to University policy on outside work for pay namely, that the Dean continue to use his/her good judgment in determining when and under what circumstances it is appropriate for a faculty member to apply in writing for administrative approval of outside work for pay;
  • the Dean encourage faculty to participate in outside work for pay if in the Dean’s judgment such activity is beneficial to both the College of Music and to the faculty person doing the outside work; and,
  • the Dean not approve any outside work and/or absence that the Dean determines to be in conflict with or detrimental to the faculty member’s responsibilities at Michigan State University.

The complete commentary concerning Outside Work for Pay [PDF] can be found in the Michigan State University Faculty Handbook.

Unapproved absences from classes are a serious matter and are addressed in the section of the handbook entitled “Abrogation of Faculty Teaching Responsibility.”Procedures are in place to implement this referenced policy in terms of withholding pay if “…services have been withheld without proper cause.”