Faculty Handbook School Business - NIU - School of Music


Absence Policy

Faculty should call the Music Office at 815-753-1551 if they will be absent unexpectedly.

All planned absences, professional or personal, must be approved in advance by the Director. The Director is responsible for the assignment of faculty responsibilities and this procedure serves in part to verify how those responsibilities will be covered in the absence of the faculty member.

Faculty wishing to receive support for professional travel must ensure that a Request for Travel Support/Authorization or Request for International Travel Support/Authorization be completed at least two weeks prior to travel. Requests will be submitted to the Dean and the Provost for final approval of funding, so it is essential that this form be completed well in advance. Please see the School of Music Office Manager to ensure that the form is completed.

Please note: for faculty requesting funding support for professional travel, the Request for Travel Support form must be completed even if the faculty member is not under contract during time of travel (e.g., summer months). 

Faculty should at all times, but especially in professional and NIU-funded travel situations, represent themselves accurately with regard to rank, title, responsibilities, and affiliation with NIU.

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Applied Fund Guidelines

The Applied Fund is generated through a fee increment ($10.00) on primary and secondary applied lessons. The monies will be distributed according to these guidelines:

  • Brass - $600.00
  • Keyboard - $600.00
  • Percussion - $600.00
  • Strings - $600.00
  • Voice - $600.00
  • Woodwinds - $600.00
  • Guitar/Harp - $600.00
  • Jazz Studies - $600.00
  • Convocation - $600.00

Areas will use the funds for guest clinician master classes and other presentations that will provide students with an orientation to and experience with the fundamentals of pedagogy, among other purposes, to complement the students' applied study.

The Convocation Committee is also to use its allocation as it sees fit. A recommended use is the appearance of All-School convocation guests whose presentations have interest and pedagogical value to all music students.

Discretionary Funds -- Applications for discretionary funds will be reviewed by an Advisory Committee sub-committee consisting of the Assistant Director, the voice/keyboard/harp/guitar representative, and the strings/winds/percussion representative. Applications should be received no later than the end of the first week of classes in the term for which the request is being made. Application letters should include a description of the proposed event, biographical information about the guest(s), exact minimum monies required and signatures of appropriate sponsoring faculty. Applications for discretionary funds must include an itemized budget (travel, lodging, etc.) if funds are requested for items other than the honorarium or if the amount requested exceeds $300. Upon request, the sub-committee will meet prior to the deadline to review and act upon early applications. This would occur only if a prospective guest must know the status of his/her visit before the normal deadline.

$500.00 will be set aside specifically for non-applied areas. Lectures or presentations on non-performance musical subjects would be appropriate. $1,000.00 will be used for (1) cooperative ventures involving two or more areas, (2) ensemble-related presentations and/or (3) last minute opportunities (such as an outstanding guest becoming available after an area's specific allocation has been depleted.)

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Budget Allocations

Early in the fall semester, you will be invited to submit budget requests for the academic year.  Forms are provided by the School of Music Office.   All requests are reviewed by the Advisory Committee. The criteria for awarding travel funds are listed below in priority order:

  1. Invited presentation of a paper, project, and/or performance of regional, national, or international significance
  2. School of Music recruiting and promotion
  3. Observer at a conference or convention

CD Collection in Music Office

Purchases of CDs for the collection in the Music Office are funded by MUHL 220 fees. The primary purpose is for the enhancement of instruction of the MUHL 220 courses. Brian Hart coordinates the purchases, and detailed requests in writing should be forwarded to him.

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The School of Music tries to maintain a minimum number of committees to execute its business. The general feeling prevails that a proliferation of committees is unwise and inefficient. A list of School of Music committees and representatives for the current year can be found HERE.

Detailed working regulations of all Standing Committees are to be kept on file in the School of Music archives.

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Contractual Period/Pay Periods

Faculty are normally under contract from August 16 through May 15.  The University expects you to return one week before classes begin each semester and to be available at least through finals week.

Paychecks are issued bi-weekly. Faculty on nine-month contracts can elect to receive payment spread over 12 months instead.  Direct and Electronic deposit of paychecks is required; checks are no longer sent to the School of Music for disbursement  Human Resource Services (753-6021) can assist you with these options.

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Convocation hours are Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 am - 11:50.  These hours are to be utilized according to the following priorities:

First priority - All-School Convocations (normally Thursdays). These will be announced by the Convocation Committee as early as possible in the semester so that Applied Area/Individual Studio convocations can then be scheduled. Students have numerous opportunities to hear a diverse array of dozens of performances in the Music Building every semester, so All-School Convocations should not normally be concerts/recitals (except for Honors Convocations described below). Any performances normally include a lecture or audience engagement component. Appropriate topics include matters of broad interest to mutliple degree majors, including Technology, Entrepreneurship, Faculty Spotlight, Alumnus/Alumna Spotlight, Arts Advocacy, current trends, etc.

Second priority - Applied Area/Individual Studio Convocations (Tuesdays and Thursdays).  It is not necessary to schedule all of these by the beginning of the semester. Since these hours belong to the applied studios, applied faculty may schedule use of these hours on relatively short notice. Each area shall be afforded the opportunity to use Recital Hall for at least one Convocation; therefore no area/studio shall dominate the usage of Recital Hall for Convocations. The purpose of the Applied Area/Individual Studio Convocations is to include the students' development of a knowledge of solo and ensemble literature relative to their instrument/voice through performances by students/faculty/guests and/or presentations.

Honors Convocation Procedure

The purpose of the Honors Convocation is to recognize an individual student or group at and All-School Convocation performance from the following areas: Voice, String, Keyboard, Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Guitar, Jazz, Steel Pan and Composition.  Students or groups are selected by their areas. The Honors Convocation also supports the student audience's development of a knowledge of solo and ensemble literature.  

Honors Convocations will be held during the Convocation hour on the last regular class Thursday of the Fall and Spring Semesters.   The areas are divided into two groups which will alternate semesters each year.  The groups are composed as follows:

  • Group 1: String, Voice, Percussion, Jazz and Guitar
  • Group 2:  Keyboard, Woodwind, Brass, Steelpan, and Composition

Each area or studio will choose one student or group to represent their area, which will perform one piece not to exceed eight minutes in length.  The area coordinator or the studio teacher will provide program information on the Honors Convocation Program Information Form provided by the Convocation Committee.  Program information must be turned in to the committee by 4:30 the Thursday prior to the Honors Convocation.  Areas that choose not to participate in the Honors Convocation must notify the committee before the program information deadline. 

It is understood that students or groups are selected to perform a specific work, which is submitted with the program information.  Program substitutions are not allowed.

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Equipment Purchased Through Grants

All equipment purchased for faculty use through internally-funded grants (e.g., Summer Research and Artistry Grants, Presidential Research Professorships, etc.) is considered to be University property and must be inventoried by the School of Music .  If you acquire equipment in this way, it cannot be sold or traded in towards a personal purchase.  Additionally, such equipment will have to be returned to the school if, for any reason, you are no longer employed by NIU.

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Expenditures by, and Reimbursement to, Faculty

All School of Music expenditures must be approved by the Director.  Anyone who makes purchases (e.g., travel, music, repair items, refreshments, etc.) for the School of Music or who otherwise obligates expenses without approval of the Director will be personally responsible for payment.

With regard to purchases of beverages such as soda, sports drinks, and bottled water, NIU has a long-term agreement with the Pepsi Cola Company.  The University receives $8 million for this exclusive contract, and the primary use of these funds is to benefit students (the Chamber Choir’s trip to Poland was partially paid for by Pepsi funds).  NIU Accounting will not allow reimbursement for purchase of any non-Pepsi beverages.

Please verify details of purchases/obligations in advance with the school’s Business Manager, Deana Eberly, in the Music Office.

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Facsimile Transmissions (fax)

The School of Music Fax number is (815)753-1759.  Faculty should send faxes for University business only.  You may send up to ten pages within the U.S. without special permission.  International faxes and faxes exceeding ten pages in length require approval by the Director.

Faculty should receive faxes for University business only. As a general rule, student assignments should not be faxed.

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Faculty Meetings

Faculty meetings normally will be held during the Convocation hour (11:00 am - 11:50 am) on the first Tuesday of each month.  The third Tuesday of each month should be reserved for extra faculty meetings, if necessary. Full-time faculty are required to attend faculty meetings.  Part-time faculty are invited, but it is understood that their attendance is not always possible. No classes, lessons, or rehearsals are to be scheduled during faculty meetings or All-School Convocations.

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Faculty Personnel Files

The School of Music personnel files contain essential employment, evaluation, and application documents.  The physical space the employee personnel files currently occupy is substantial, so the contents of the personnel files are restricted to Human Resource Services employment documents, documentation of and items utilized for the procedures related to personnel decisions, and similar official university documents.  Other documents, such as letters of appreciation or items not specifically a part of required documentation, can be maintained by individual faculty members in their personal office or home files for future reference.

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GroupWise WebAccess (off-campus email)/now Outlook mail

When away from campus, you can access your e-mail account from any internet-connected computer via a web browser (e.g., Internet Explorer or Firefox).  If you have problems setting a password, help is available at 815-753-8100.

When using an off-campus computer, go to o365.niu.edu to access Outlook email.

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Hiring Procedures

Realizing that the final responsibility for the selection and engagement of new faculty is charged to the Director of the School of Music , the Advisory Committee nevertheless recognizes a need to clarify faculty responsibilities during the preliminary stages of the hiring process.  Therefore, the committee has recommended the following procedures:

A job description for a vacancy or a new position should be defined by the Director in consultation with the appropriate qualified faculty members of the school, the Advisory Committee, and/or the appointed Search Committee. “Qualified Faculty Members” are defined as those faculty whose training, teaching assignment, and/or experience has established their expertise in a particular area of the school.

Preliminary tapes and documents should be reviewed by the appropriate Search Committee and the Director, resulting in recommendations of possible candidates for the position.

Interviews and auditions should be attended by all qualified faculty members and the Director. An absence from any candidate's interview or audition by one of the above-mentioned participants should disqualify that faculty member from the final selection process for that particular position.

A final recommendation should be submitted to the Search Committee by the appropriate qualified faculty after all interviews and auditions have been completed.

The Search Committee, after receiving the qualified faculty recommendation, should submit recommendations to the Director who will make the final decision in the selection of the candidate for the position.

Article 5.311 of the NIU Bylaws states that “Individuals teaching regularly-scheduled classes being recommended for promotion must have demonstrated successful teaching and show continuing concern for critical assessment and improvement of their teaching.” The NIU School of Music is proud of its long history of excellence in teaching, and is committed to maintaining this distinction for generations to come. To this end, on-site (or videotaped) observation of classroom, ensemble, and/or studio teaching is available each fall and spring semester by an observation team specially formed for each faculty member.  Though the input received in this confidential observation process plays no role in the annual merit evaluation, progress-towards-tenure reports, or tenure/promotion recommendations, faculty who choose to be observed will have the benefit of receiving feedback from colleagues familiar with both NIU students and curricula. This observation process is one of several resources available to all faculty members interested in achieving the highest possible level of excellence in teaching.

All new faculty who enter a tenure-track position will be made aware of this process at the initial hiring interview by the Director of the School of Music , who is also responsible for insuring that the observation team is formed.  The observation team will include a colleague with similar content expertise.  Observation teams will be comprised of regular faculty, excluding Personnel Committee members, and the Director.  All regular faculty members are required to serve as observers, as needed.  All observers will be specially trained to assist probationary faculty in assessing and improving their teaching.  Observers will arrange to meet with the faculty member prior to and following the observation. The initial meeting will provide the faculty member with an opportunity to discuss the course and class meeting objectives with the observer(s).  The subsequent meeting is intended to provide the observer(s) and faculty member an opportunity to discuss strengths and strategies for improvement, based on the class meeting observed.

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International Student Employment

International students enrolled at NIU under an F-1 or J-1 visa are subject to federal rules and regulations governing F1 and J1 students. Unauthorized off-campus employment causes a student to go out of status, and this can only be resolved via an expensive and time-consuming process. Sometimes it is not resolved. Authorized off-campus employment can only be accepted by an F1 and J1 international student if approval is granted in advance through an application process administered by the International Student and Faculty Office (ISFO) in Williston Hall 406. If an International student wishes to work on-campus, paid through NIU, it is not necessary to obtain special permission via the ISFO.

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Please restrict all mailing to University business.  We are charged for every piece of mail. Packages, unless approved by the Director, will be shipped by book- or fourth-class rate. Any mass mailings should be approved by the Director in advance. The mail goes out once a day (mid-morning), but campus mail may be dropped in the box in the main hall for afternoon pick-up (3:30 p.m.).

For mail larger than a standard business envelope, please use 6 X 9 without clasps (glue flap only), available from the Music Office.  Envelopes with metal clasps cost more to mail.

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MUHL 220 Concert Series Funding:

The Convocation/Concert Series Committee will furnish guidelines for distribution of MUHL 220 fees.  An application form is in the appendices.

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Office Computers & Virus Protection

The School of Music attempts to provide reliable computers to faculty to support completion of their university responsibilities. Since all hard drives eventually fail, it is the faculty member's responsibility to back up critical data, such as documents and e-mail archives. Most School of Music-provided computers have CD and/or DVD recording capability, and the Music Office can provide faculty blank CD's and DVD's for the purpose of permanently backing up data on a periodic basis. Another option would be to use a personal flash drive, hard drive, or other device that connects via a USB port. The School of Music cannot be responsible for recovering data from a failed hard drive, as the cost for such service is minimally hundreds of dollars and can exceed $2,000. Please back up important data on a regular basis.

For several years, ITS has purchased a site license for McAfee virus-protection softwre that covers all faculty, staff and students. It is installed on all faculty office computers and automatically updates itself.

MacAfee is now available as a web-based download that can be found at http://its.niu.edu/its/software/downloads/antivirus.shtml (separate links for faculty/staff and students).  Please feel free to download and install this software on your home machines, as the license allows for faculty/staff home use. FYI, the "E" or enterprise version is preconfigured to work best for on-campus computers. The "H" or home version is preconfigured to work best on a computer not on campus. Remember, the "H" version is the one that should be installed on faculty/staff home machines. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the ITS Helpdesk at 753-8100.

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Office Hours

Reviewed by the Advisory Committee, January, 2002.

Faculty members who teach must maintain regular office hours or provide other means to promote student-faculty consultation.  These office hours must be included in course syllabi and publicly posted each academic term.  Arrangements more convenient to students than office visits (e.g., e-mail or chat groups) may be substituted for office hours.

A copy of your office hours should be submitted to the Music Office at the start of every school year.  If your hours change between semesters, a new copy should be turned in.  The office staff cannot appropriately direct students to you if your office hours aren't on file.

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Personnel Evaluations

Tenure-track faculty (merit raises, tenure, promotion):

The policies for evaluation and appeal are clearly stated in the Constitutions and Bylaws of the University, College, and School. The faculty are reminded that three criteria are used in establishing a rating:

  • Teaching
  • Artistic and/or scholarly work
  • Service

The primary sources we have for evidence pertaining to these criteria are:

  • Faculty Service Report (Due early in the spring semester on a date set by the Personnel Committee)
  • Student evaluations (See below)

Part-time faculty:

Part-time faculty are normally evaluated by the Director under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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Student Evaluations (Course Evaluations)

The University mandates that all classes must be evaluated within the last four weeks of each semester.  It is extremely important that every student complete every form since they are used (in part) to evaluate faculty members for merit raises, tenure and promotion.  They can also help you greatly in designing and improving your courses.

Faculty must not be present in the room during the evaluation process. Students may complete evaluations individually by coming to the Music Office but, as a rule, most do not.  Therefore, the evaluations should take place during a regular class meeting or convocation. Faculty may review  evaluations after final grades for the semester have been submitted. Sample evaluation sheets may be obtained in the Music office at any time.

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Student Organization Advisors

The School of Music has a number of student organizations that provide valuable service and fellowship experiences for our students.  Faculty members who act as advisors for these organizations should not take this service lightly, as your guidance will be critical to the success of the group.  University Legal Services now requires that an official Memorandum of Understanding be signed by a faculty member who acts as advisor to a student organization.  A printable version of this document can be found in the Appendices of this handbook.

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Telephone Service

Telephones are provided for full-time faculty and as many part-time faculty as the budget allows.  These telephones have voice mail and long distance capability.  Faculty should reimburse the school for any personal calls that total several dollars or more in a single month.  Faculty will be expected to verify and/or reimburse the charges as appropriate for toll charges totaling more than $10 in any month when contacted by the Music Office.  While calls on a large toll bill may be related to research and artistry activities, faculty are required to personally pay the cost of such calls if the calls ultimately result in personal compensation for the research and artistry activities.  It is acknowledged that some faculty may have charges for school business in excess of $10 that will not require any reimbursement.  If a faculty member deems the billing verification process too cumbersome, s/he can simplify matters by reimbursing the School of Music for all of the toll charges.  Voice mail is provided to ensure accurate and timely receipt of telephone messages.  As a general rule, the School of Music Office staff will transfer calls to voice mail and not take written messages.

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Work Loads

The Director of the School of Music is responsible for the scheduling of classes and delegates the scheduling of one-on-one, chamber music coaching, and other TBA applied instruction to the faculty member of record.  Such instruction should be scheduled at a mutually convenient time for the student(s) and faculty member and on/at the same day/time each week.  Full-time faculty members’ primary employment responsibilities will normally include determining the weekly schedule (names and respective times) for applied instruction. Part-time faculty whose other employment activities may interfere with a consistent schedule may share the responsibility of determining the instruction schedule with the students.

While the on-campus teaching contact responsibilities of an assigned work load of a full-time faculty member may minimally be completed in fewer than the five Monday through Friday weekdays, it is not feasible to unequivocally eliminate one or more of the weekdays from work load assignment on a regular basis, especially far in advance.  Full-time faculty member availability for interaction with students and colleagues outside of scheduled course-contact time is essential for the school and its programs to function and develop effectively.  Excused absence from a limited number of specific dates is possible, with advance approval by the Director of the School of Music.

See the School of Music Constitution and Bylaws or University Collective Bargaining Agreement for additional policies regarding work loads.

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