Professional Expectations & Class Protocol

Students in my classes will be treated as they can expect to be treated in the work place; that is, as adult professionals, each responsible for his/her own performance.


Attendance. You are expected to come to every class meeting on time and prepared to participate. More than two absences (summer) or three absences (fall or spring semester) will result in a maximum possible course grade of C. Note that there is no distinction between an excused and an unexcused absence. Being late and/or leaving early by 10 minutes more than two times constitutes an absence.

   Excusable absences are related to personal illness or medical emergency, death or critical illness in the immediate family, jury duty, military duty, religious observances, or participating in university-related activities such as varsity sports. Even when specific absences may be excused, there may come a point at which too many absences make it impossible for students to meet course requirements, and the student will be advised to withdraw from the course not as penalty for having missed class but simply as recognition that the student is unable to complete class assignments.

   The following are examples of non-excusable absences: vacation, job-related responsibilities, working on class assignments, non-emergency medical appointments, activities sponsored by other departments or classes, child-care responsibilities, or extended personal leave -- also your sister's week-long destiation wedding in Greece, nor your March Madness celebratory hangover. 


Participation. Active class participation involves more than mere physical presence. You are expected to be actively involved in this class. Take the initiative in discussion and projects; ask relevant questions; contribute to the over-all learning environment of this class. This is known as active learning. Class discussions will be wide-ranging and open; no relevant topic will be off-limits. You are encouraged to share your media experiences, insights and professional observations. You also are expected to fulfill your team obligations.


Mutual Respect. Students can expect to be treated with respect by the instructor and other students. Likewise, anyone enrolled in this course is expected to treat the instructor and fellow students with respect and to act in a dignified manner at all times. Candor is encouraged but all class discussions must be conducted in an environment of respect and tolerance – for both people and their ideas. Harassing, intimidating, belligerent or abusive language or action is banned from the classroom.


Cell Phones/Text Messaging. Unless you are on call for your part-time job as an EMT or your significant other is expecting a baby within 48 hours, turn off all cell phones. It is your instructor's belief and presumption that outside distractions and/or your social life are significantly less important than your active participation in this class. Do not even think of texting during class time. If you cannot go an hour or two without using you cell phone, please make an appointment at the Counseling Center.


Taping Class Sessions. Students may record class sessions to help them in studying or to accommodate a classmate who finds it necessary to be absent.


Class Notes. Notes for most class sessions are posted at the class Blackboard site. Students should download and read these prior to each class session.


Communication Protocol. The best way to communicate outside of class with your instructor is through the Message section in the Blackboard site for this course. Alternately, you can reach me through campus e-mail ( Indicate the name of the course in the subject line, ecause I receive dozens of e-mails every day and may overlook an inexplicit subject line.


Food and Drink. Water or soft drinks are permitted, but must be in an enclosed container. Except for health reasons, students should not snack in class.




Academic Expectations


Workload. Each student begins class with the presumption that s/he is an average student capable of advanced undergraduate work. Students will determine their course grade from this basis according to their academic performance.  The SUNY criterion for minimal out-of-class work is two hours for each hour of class time. Expect to spend adequate time in reading, researching and writing homework assignments, and studying for exams. This is known as independent learning, a hallmark of an educated person.


Academic Effort. While effort and hard work are encouraged, they do not guarantee high grades. Rather, for most students, they are the means to achieving good grades. In the professional world, you are evaluated not on the amount of time you put into a project but on the quality of work you produce. Similarly, in my courses, students are evaluated on the basis of their academic output, not on the effort they put into the course. Working hard is appreciated, but working smart is rewarded.


Academic Integrity. The professional world of public relations rests on integrity and the creation of original work for an organization or client. In this class, each student is expected to make an honest effort and to be scrupulous in maintaining academic integrity. Cheating, plagiarism and fabrication of information will not be tolerated; university and departmental guidelines on academic misconduct will be enforced. The instructor reserves the right to apply penalties including failure of an assignment and failure of the course to any student who is academically dishonest. See departmental guidelines for avoiding plagiarism


Grading. Students will accumulate many grades throughout the term of this course. Each assignment will be graded; generally students will know the grading rubric that the instructor will apply to each assignment. Assignments will be returned with a percentage grade. At the end of the semester, the overall percentage grade will be recast as a letter grade for submission to the Registrar's Office. In general, a D-range grade (60-69%) means below average; C's (70-79%) average; B's (80-89%) above average; A's (90-100%) outstanding. I will use plus and minus grades for the final course grade. Remember that the Communication Department requires students to achieve a grade of C or better for this course to apply to degree requirements for graduation.


Writing Standards. Professional writing for public relations, advertising, news and other aspects of integrated communication must conform to Associated Press style. You are responsible for correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and other aspects of language use. Proofread carefully. All written work and presentations will be held to professional standards. Strive to use inclusive language. Present written assignments in the standard format (11 or 12 point, Times New Roman), one-inch margins, page numbers, 1.5 or double spacing, etc.)


Assignments and Deadlines. Public relations is a deadline-driven profession. Missing deadlines has major negative consequences both on the job and in this classroom.You will receive ample notice of assignment deadlines. All writing assignments must be typed and proofread. Assignments are due in class or electronically by midnight on the assigned day. Generally, late assignments will not be accepted. Note that working on an assignment is no excuse for missing or coming late to class. A bit of advice: Expect problems. Waiting until the last minute only invites disaster. Broken printers or closed labs are not even close to being legitimate excuses for late assignments.


Missed Class Meetings. If you miss class for any reason, you are responsible for obtaining notes and announcements from another student. 


Special Needs. I invite my students to confidentially share information on any disabilities and special needs they may have. Students with such disabilities or needs should contact the Office of Disability Services (878-4500). Based on recommendations from that office, I can ensure that students receive appropriate assistance, such as additional time or a quiet space to take exams, a reader for exams, and so on. Note that we must discuss any accommodation before a problem arises; notifying me after you've failed an exam that you need special help won't retroactively change your grade.


Academic Assistance. Students needing assistance with writing, reading and/or study skills may contact the Writing Help Center sponsored by the College Writing Program; the center is located in 214 Butler Library. Tutoring and other assistance is available through the Academic Skills Center (330 Twin Rise South), English Department Writing Center (323 Ketchum), and EOP Academic Resource Center (730 Twin Rise South). 


Instructional Methods. Students can expect a variety of methods in my courses:

Assigned readings

Case studies

Discussion and critique

Guest speakers

Journal of Professional Observations



Semester-long project (team and/or individual)

Writing assignments