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Troubleshooting: Navigating Issues


Where to go and what to do when things don’t work as planned

This part of the guide offers resources to consult when things go wrong, but it can’t offer everything. Most departments maintain their own list of emergency contacts, and in some cases these resources are highly specialized, so if such a contact list isn’t evident right away, it’s worth getting in touch with our hiring contacts within the department.

This portion of the guide is organized as a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ), so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, keep scrolling down (and if it’s still not there, contact us!).

What do I do in an emergency?

The UT Public Safety department maintains a variety of online resources to help us prepare for emergencies on campus, and the main page lists emergency contact phone numbers (on the right).  It’s worth reviewing their Emergency Management materials in advance of the semester, and signing up for UT Alert (on that same page).

For teaching purposes, the Public Safety department offers a Faculty Emergency Guide, and there are also specific guides for each building, available via the page for Building Emergency Preparedness Coordinators. This page is worth a visit as soon as we know where we’ll be teaching.

What are my “mandatory reporting” responsibilities?
What do I need to do if students disclose sexual harassment, assault, or other related information to me?

As responsible instructors in the classroom, we are also “mandatory reporters” of sexual harassment and related issues, when students disclose them to us.  The UT Title IX Office maintains detailed information about what we have to report, and how to go about it.

What information needs to stay confidential?
What do I do if parents or others request information about a student?

If we are asked to communicate information about students (for instance, to parents or other stakeholders), it’s important to know what we can and cannot say.  Our role as instructors is governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and UT has a page discussing our obligations under FERPA here.  Generally speaking, we cannot disclose student information to anyone without a written agreement signed by the student.

How do I get technical help?

For issues with classroom, computer lab, or other UT-issued computer technologies, the UT Office of Information Technology (OIT) offers a variety of support services and mechanisms.

For teaching-related software and technology, OIT also has a page dedicated to teaching tools, beginning with our learning management system (LMS), Canvas.

How do I use Canvas?

For teaching-related software and technology, OIT also has a page dedicated to teaching tools, beginning with our learning management system (LMS), Canvas.

What do I do if I can’t access “My UTK” or related resources?

The MyUTK web system should allow us to manage most aspects of our teaching appointment, and much of our computer and email work will be completed through Office 365.  Occasionally these systems experience technical difficulties, for which we might need to contact the UT Office of Information Technology (OIT).  However, it’s also worth remembering that some access issues originate in our departments rather than in OIT (departments have to submit lists of new hires to campus IT systems), so our departmental contacts would often be the best people to consult, particularly in regard to what classes, rooms, or equipment we’re assigned.

What do I do if I’m going to miss a class?

In general, we will need to contact students and notify our home departments, preferably as early as possible.  Individual departments usually maintain their own notification requirements, so our departmental contacts would be the primary people we’d want to reach out to in these cases.

Where can my students access advising services?

Students should receive advising within their department or unit. Undergraduate students can access information about advising and tutoring services on the UT Undergraduate Academic Advising page “For Students”—this link provides more information, as well as further links to individual departments and divisions.

Where can my students find tutoring services?

For issues related to writing, students can get help at the UT Writing Center.  To make the most out of the Writing Center’s resources, it may be helpful to consult their Support for Faculty page.

For issues related to general study skills or university expectations, the Student Success Center also offers tutoring and coaching, and can refer students to additional resources.

What should I do when I suspect cheating, plagiarism, or other academic dishonesty?

Most departments and units have their own requirements and policies, so it’s worth checking in with your immediate supervisor, but the Office of Student Conduct also provides a detailed step-by-step guide for handling these situations, on their Community Standards page.  There is also a parallel guide for students accused of academic dishonesty.

The Provost’s Office also maintains an overview of university policies on academic dishonesty, among other matters.

How do I access union representatives?

Although the University of Tennessee does not engage union contracts, there are local offices and chapters of several organizations.  If you are interested in getting involved with the local offices of the Communications Workers of America or the American Association of University Professors, the links here provide more information about whom to contact.

Where do I go if I’m having an issue with my supervisors, or with campus policies, that I don’t want to discuss within my department?

For advice on how to handle a variety of issues, we can contact the UT Office of Ombuds Services.  The UT ombudsperson is available to offer confidential advice in private one-on-one meetings, in the office in Dunford Hall.  It may also be useful to get in touch with the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs (click here for contact information).


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