Dean’s Excuse

Form: Dean’s Excuse request

There are three kinds of late or postponed work: (1) work late during term time; (2) work incomplete at the end of term; and (3) postponed final examinations. INSTRUCTORS OF COURSES MAY, DURING TERM TIME, GIVE PERMISSION TO MAKE UP LATE OR MISSED WORK, PROVIDED THAT SUCH WORK IS SUBMITTED BEFORE THE END OF TERM.

This may be news not only to you but to many of your instructors. It is important to be aware of their authority to postpone work, since a Dean’s Excuse can be issued ONLY in the following instances:

  1.  Incapacitating Illness – this does not mean bad cold, fatigue, lack of sleep, etc. By now, you know what incapacitating really means.
  2. Death of a family member
  3. A comparable emergency – use your judgment
  4. Observance of religious holy days
  5. Participation in varsity intercollegiate events (not practice and not club sports).

This year is going to provide many of you with fantastic opportunities that may, unfortunately, become obstacles for handing in work on time. Participation in dramatic events, singing groups, and non-varsity athletics will in many cases compete for time that might otherwise be used for studying, writing, or attending classes. In addition, every year many students must attend interviews for medical schools, brokerage houses, and the like, and these commitments may also interfere with class work. It is precisely in such circumstances that you should be aware of the authority of your instructor to postpone work; it will be your ONLY means for turning in late work without penalty. I can’t write Dean’s Excuses for reasons that – no matter how compelling they may be – do not fall into the categories I’ve already mentioned.

This is also an opportune moment to point out that certain times in the semester (such as midterms and finals) will often place heavy demands on your schedules. It is essential that you anticipate and coordinate these difficulty periods; problems that arise from not having enough time to complete papers or prepare for exams are specifically excluded from reasons eligible for Dean’s Excuses.

Be especially careful of situations in which your instructor says to you: “it’s fine with me as long as you get a Dean’s Excuse.” You will know under what circumstances you will be able to receive one, so you may have to resolve the issue on the spot. Be VERY careful about assuming you will get a Dean’s Excuse in instances where you overslept for an exam, ran out of time because of rehearsals to finish the problem set, etc., because you will ultimately find yourself between a rock and a hard place. The same thing goes for computer malfunctions – back up your work, and make hard copies for your files. It is important also to know that Dean’s Excuses can only extend deadlines; they cannot cover absences, whatever the reason.

One last but essential remark about postponing work: at the end of term, everything changes; extensions for outstanding work or make-up examinations can be issued ONLY by me. Beware of getting permission from instructors to turn work in after the end of the term. Without WRITTEN permission from me, you will receive a non-passing grade for the course. Period. So be careful.

Take good care of yourselves, and stay well!

Sustainably yours,
The Dean