School for Ministry - Academic Policies and Procedures
 

 

ADMISSION

To benefit from the financial support provided by the Mercer Scholarship Fund, all those enrolled in programs at the School must complete an application form. Some courses may require concurrence from the applicant's clergy.
Participation in academic courses in the ordination preparation program does not provide a short cut to ordination. The discernment process and timeline for those interested in holy order is documented here: [link to website on discernment process]
A Certificate of Graduation from the school is provided upon satisfactory completion of the training, workshop or course of study. Other certificates of completion nay be granted from time to time.

LAY PARTICIPATION

While the stated purpose of our full curriculum is to satisfy the canonical requirements for academic preparation of deacons, we also offer two options for interested laity:
1. Full participation in a course, including readings, periodic tests and written assignments, and class discussion. A letter grade will be received upon completion of the course: fee $100 per course.
2. Course audit: Students auditing a course are not graded, but are encouraged to participate in the reading, discussion, and assignments according to their interest and the concurrence of the instructor; fee – $25 per course
NOTE: Student assessments will be different for postulants in the diaconal formation program and the full participation track for laity, and expectations and assignments will be more rigorous for those on the ordination track.
Auditing of some courses is permitted with permission of the instructor and Director of Academic Programs. Students auditing a course are not graded, but are encouraged to participate in the reading, discussion, and assignments according to their interest. An audit fee may be charged.

ABSENCES FROM CLASS

Regular attendance is essential for the exchange and development of ideas, as well as for the building of community. Given the limited number of contact hours per course in each semester, regular attendance is especially important. Therefore, no unexcused absences from class are allowed. If an emergency or occurrence arises which makes attendance impossible, the student should seek to be excused by his or her instructor in advance of the class session and arrange to make up the work. Habitual absence or lateness shall be penalized in accordance with the judgment of the instructor.
GRADES

Letter grades are assigned as follows:

A Excellent
B Good
C Satisfactory
D Minimum Pass
E Fail
INC Incomplete

In addition, from time to time, certain courses may be graded as P (Pass) or NP (Not Passing)

INCOMPLETE GRADES

Every student is expected to complete all course work, including examinations and written work (e.g. research papers, essays) on a timely basis. In extraordinary circumstances, an Incomplete may be assigned. The designation of "Incomplete", in lieu of a grade, shall be given when requirements for a course remain unfulfilled at the end of the course. Such requirements must be completed within a period designated by the Instructor, not to exceed two weeks after the end of the class, unless otherwise permitted by the Director of Academic Programs.

TRANSCRIPTS

Requests for transcripts, including those for transcripts required by the Bishop and Standing Committee, must be made in writing by the student to the Director of Operations.

PRINCIPLES OF SCHOLARSHIP

GENERAL PRINCIPLE

Academic honesty contributes to the integrity of any academic institution, and more obviously in the case of a school of theology. Students should be familiar with the general rules of scholarship, but they are repeated here for the sake of clarity, and in order that all may be aware of the seriousness with which they must be taken and the standards to which students will be held at Mercer.

WRITING OF PAPERS

It is impossible to acknowledge or even remember the source of every statement made when writing a paper, but it is imperative that a student give credit for ideas which were derived from specific material consulted for the paper. The following instructions should be kept in mind:

a. Direct Quotations: Excerpts, whole sentences and phrases which are from other people's works must be enclosed with quotation marks and given credit either in the body of the paper or in the footnotes. Citations must follow one of the formats described in paragraph d below.
b. Paraphrases: Ideas which have been paraphrased and facts which have been borrowed from other sources must be credited to those works.
c. The Final Form: The student must be able to defend the final form of the material as his own. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language defines "to plagiarize" as "to take and pass off as one's own (the ideas, writing, etc. of another)".
d. Bibliography and Notes: Papers should include footnotes and a bibliography which lists all the sources consulted in a consistent format according to either the MLA or Chicago Manual of Style Guide. MS Word "Help" provides a video that walks the student through the use of an MLA template that Word provides. There are also various online guides and samples easily found via any search engine.
Any student who uses another student's paper as his or her own, or who engages another person to write a paper for him, or who resubmits previously written papers, or who plagiarizes any material in any paper or examination, or who uses unauthorized assistance in the writing of a paper or examination, will be subject to dismissal from the school.

STUDENT REGULATIONS

STUDENT DISCIPLINE

In the event that a student shall be alleged to have breached any of the academic principles of the school, or any law of society which poses a threat to the school community; or violates any property rights of the school or a member of the school; or shall conduct himself or herself in such a way as to affect adversely the student's suitability as a member of the school community and disrupts the ordinary function of education; or violates the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church or of the Diocese of Long Island: that student shall be subject to dismissal from the school.

DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE

a. The offending student shall be given notice by the School administration of the specific grounds, which, if confirmed, would justify dismissal or suspension.
b. The student shall be given an opportunity to present to the Director of Academic Programs a defense to the specific charges and to produce relevant testimony and evidence.
c. A transcript, not necessarily in detail, will be kept of the hearing.
d. The Officers of Administration, after receiving all relevant testimony and evidence, shall advise the student as to their determination.
e. The student shall have the right to appeal the decision to the President of the school, or the Acting President, or, if there be neither, to the Mercer Board of Trustees, whose decision shall be final.

ACADEMIC APPEALS

Any student may appeal his or her currently assigned grades to the Director of Academic Programs if the student, after serious consultation with the instructor, reasonably believes that a substantial injustice has been done. At all times, it should be remembered that the academic integrity of the school and its instructors are a precious commodity, and no such appeal should be instituted, except for weighty reasons. Frivolous appeals will not be countenanced.

SCHOOL-STUDENT RELATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

1. RESPONSIBILITIES

a. Speech and Advocacy: Members of the community have a right to the free expression of their opinions and beliefs. In expressing those rights, however, each person has a responsibility to respect the rights and opinions of others and to give preference to means of expression which are appropriate and in good taste within the academic community.
b. Speakers: No person shall be invited or allowed to address the students as a whole, or any society of the students, without the consent of the Director of Academic programs previously obtained in writing.
c. Commercial Solicitation and Advertising: The school is a community for study and worship. It is inappropriate for any member of the community to solicit or advertise for commercial purposes or enterprises within the school, or to use its mailing lists or directories for such purposes.
d. Address Lists and Directories: Address lists and directories of the school community are distributed from time to time for the convenience of the school community. Such lists and directories shall not be used for any other purposes than intra-school communications. Students are requested to notify the School Office of changes of address and/or telephone numbers.
e. Use of the School's Name: The name of the school is its legal name and should not be used, nor should its stationery be used, by any but the responsible officials of the school.

EVALUATIONS

1. ANNUAL STUDENT EVALUATIONS

Students who are Postulants or Candidates for Holy Orders will be evaluated annually by the instructional staff in compliance with the Canons of the Episcopal Church. A copy of this evaluation shall be sent to the student's Bishop.

2. ANNUAL EVALUATION OF INSTRUCTION

To assist the instructional staff and administration in providing the highest quality of instruction, both formal teaching and educational stimuli and atmosphere, each student will be requested, but not required, to submit candid evaluations of each course in which he or she has participated during the school year. Replies may be anonymous at the discretion of the student. Evaluation forms will be provided by the administration. This effort at evaluation is not intended to discredit or embarrass but to provide a means whereby each member of the instructional staff may have an opportunity to improve the level and competency of the course and subject matter for which he or she is responsible.

CONFIDENTIALITY, RETENTION AND LOCATION OF STUDENT RECORDS

1. GENERAL STATEMENT

While the school is not covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Administration has adopted a policy pertaining to the maintenance, retention and location, and confidentiality of student records. This policy is effective as of September 10, 1977, and does not apply to any records maintained prior to that date.

The school is mindful that student records are held in the relationship of confidentiality between the student and the school.

2. CONFIDENTIALITY

Student records maintained by the school shall include only matter material to the necessary conduct of the affairs of the school and the educational process. Access to the file is intended to be limited to the Administration, instructional staff and employees of the school and the student. However, the school disclaims any liability for any loss due to any unauthorized access to such records.

3. MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS

Academic Transcripts, Disciplinary Records and Evaluations are kept and maintained by the School and contain only relevant personal data and information concerning academic status and performance.

4. STUDENT ACCESS

Upon proper notice, any student may have access to his or her personal records, transcripts, disciplinary records and evaluations. No student shall have access to records of instructional personnel and administrators which are in the sole possession of the maker;

5. ISSUANCE OF RECORDS

Except as may be required by legal process, the school will not issue any reports, transcripts or records without the consent of the student. By becoming a Postulant or a Candidate for Holy Orders, or by entering Holy Orders, a student implicitly authorizes and consents to the issuance of any report, record, transcript and evaluation which is or may be required by canon law or canonical procedure.

6. RETENTION OF RECORDS

The school may retain any records indefinitely, or, in its discretion, destroy same at any time, provided, however, that prior to the final destruction of the student's transcript, the school will mail a certified copy to the student at his last known address.

Title to all student records shall always remain in the school, and all records will be the property of the school.