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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What if I am being sued as a University employee?
  2. Are my conversations with University Legal Counsel or Counsel staff confidential?
  3. What immigration information is available for me?
  4. What do I need to do to file a Conflict of Interest claim?
  5. Who should I talk to about contracts and signature authority?
  6. How does the contract review process work?
  7. What are my legal rights if I am disabled?
  8. Who should I talk to about Export Control?
  9. What do I need to know about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
  10. What if I believe I have been discriminated against?
  11. What do I need to do to file a grievance?
  12. Do I qualify for in-state tuition?
  13. Where can I find information regarding intellectual properties?
  14. Who should I contact if I want to apply for a sponsored research program?
  15. What do I need to know about the Freedom of Information Act?
  16. What if I get injured on the job?

What if I am being sued as a University employee?

 
While this is determined on a case by case basis, if you have been sued in connection with your official duties as a University employee and you have acted lawfully and in good faith, you will likely be indemnified and defended by the University. “Official duties” include those duties and responsibilities that are part of the employee’s job description and authority.  You could be liable, but the State may provide an employee with legal representation if he or she is used for matters arising within the course and scope of their employment.

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Are my conversations with University Legal Counsel or Counsel staff confidential?

 
Generally speaking, your conversations with the staff in the Office of University Legal Counsel on matters involving University business will be privileged as to outside third parties, but may not be confidential as to other University officials.

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What immigration information is available for me?

 

Virginia State University employees seeking information on H-1B visas, J-1 exchange visitor visas or permanent residency should contact Human Resources at (804) 524- 5087.

Undergraduate and graduate students seeking immigration information should contact International Student Advisement Services at (804) 524-5928. 

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What do I need to do to file a Conflict of Interest claim?

 

A conflict of interest occurs when a faculty or staff member is in a position to advance one's own interests or that of one's family or others, to the detriment of the university. Both state and federal law define conflict of interests and the conditions under which such conflicts may be deemed acceptable.

Guidelines for managing a potential faculty conflict of interest may be found on the University’s Conflict of Interest webpage and through the University’s Conflict of Interests Act Policy 807.

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Who should I talk to about contracts and signature authority?

 
University Policy 5508 governs the execution of contracts. Per policy, Director of Procurement must review all contracts prior to execution. Only positions set out within the signature policy have been granted signature authority for contracts. For information regarding contract review, please contact Director of Procurement at (804) 524-5297. 

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How does the contract review process work?

 

Contracts, agreements, MOUs, etc. are required to be routed through the Purchasing Department.  As part of the process, the documents must also be reviewed and approved by University Legal Counsel prior to execution by the department. The department should mail or email a copy of any such document to the Director of Purchasing with the appropriate routing form.

The length of review depends on current workload, any deadlines conveyed by the department, and length and complexity of the document. If a contract has not been returned to the requesting department within 10 business days, please contact Director of Procurement via e-mail or by phone. 

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What are my legal rights if I am disabled?

 

Virginia State University is committed to a policy of non-discrimination in employment and education and complies with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. Policy 1003 sets forth an individual's rights under the ADA and procedures for making reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities.

Employees with a disability should contact Human Resources at 804-524-1007.  Students should contact the Students with Disabilities Program at (804) 524-5061, (804) 524-5001 (24 hour help line), or (804) 524-5838 (TTY) for complete information regarding your legal rights. 

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Who should I talk to about Export Control?

 

For export control issues, please visit the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (OSPR).  The OESRC supports Virginia State’s commitment to complying with federal laws and regulations applicable to export and trade sanctions.

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What do I need to know about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?

 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (34 CFR Part 99) guarantees an individual's right to the access of their academic record. This federal law also provides guidelines as to third party access and the appropriate security of the education record. FERPA stipulates that students have the right to inspect and review their academic record, control disclosure (designate confidentiality), and request amendment to the education record if an error is recorded.

For information on Virginia State University's FERPA policies, please visit the FERPA webpage.

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What if I believe I have been discriminated against?

 

University Policy 1101, the Virginia State University’s Discrimination, harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation Policy, prohibits discrimination or harassment against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

If you have a concern about discrimination or harassment, please contact Human Resources at (804) 524-1007.

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What do I need to do to file a grievance?

 

The grievance procedure is a process through which a Virginia State University classified or university employee can bring workplace concerns to upper levels of management. This process is more formal than mediation and requires that rules be followed strictly. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Grievance Procedure Manual lists the rules that must be followed. Employee Relations staff assist employees in filing grievances, management in responding to the grievance, and monitor the process to ensure that both the employee and management comply with the rules.

Grievances must be filed within 30 days of the time the action being grieved occurred. Employees should contact Virginia State University's Employee Relations at (804) 524-5766 to confirm the appropriate management steps for their department or work unit, including employees in Virginia State University’s Extension and Agricultural Experiment Program and other off-campus operations.

The faculty grievance process for tenured and tenure-track faculty is outlined in section 2.16 of the Faculty Handbook. Specific questions regarding the faculty grievance process should be directed to the Office of the Provost at (804) 524-5997.

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Do I qualify for in-state tuition?

 

University Legal Counsel does not handle or provide information or make determinations regarding in-state residency requirements. If you are currently an undergraduate student and have questions regarding the laws, requirements, and/or application materials for in-state tuition, please contact the University Registrar at (804) 524- 5217.

Graduate students should contact the Graduate School at (804) 524-5385.  New undergraduate students, including transfer students, should contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at (804) 524- 5901 or (804) 524-5813.

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Where can I find information regarding intellectual properties?

 

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. Virginia State University Policy 1410 governs ownership of intellectual properties created by university employees or through the use of university resources. The policy defines the rights and responsibilities of the affected parties and provides a process to determine IP ownership. State law requires all university employees, as a condition of employment, to be bound by this policy. The policy applies to all permanent and visiting faculty, research faculty, classified staff, wage employees, and students.

For the purposes of Virginia State University’s policy, IP is grouped into two categories: 1) The traditional results of academic scholarship, i.e. textbooks, literary works, artistic creations and artifacts; and 2) The novel results of research such as products, processes, machines, software, biological technology, etc. The presumption of ownership differs depending on the nature of the intellectual property.

General guidance regarding ownership of intellectual properties is provided on the University’s Intellectual Property webpage..

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Who should I contact if I want to apply for a sponsored research program?

 

For information on applying for sponsored research programs, please contact the Office of Sponsored Research and  Programs at (804) 631-3330. The Office of Sponsored Programs provides information on policies that are intended to protect the nature of university research and to protect the rights of individuals as well as the rights of the university. If your inquiry is Agriculture specific, please contact the College of Agriculture at (804) 524-5873.

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What do I need to know about the Freedom of Information Act?

 

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located at § 2.2-3700, et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

A public record is any writing or recording -- regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format -- that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees, or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.

The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.

For more information about FOIA and your FOIA rights, please visit Virginia State University’s policy site.

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What if I get injured on the job?

 

An injured employee is required to immediately report an accident or illness to the direct supervisor. If you have been injured during the course of your employment at Virginia State University, please contact the Department of Human Resources at (804) 524-5089. For general information regarding your rights under the Workers' Compensation Act or filing claims, please visit the Human Resources website.

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