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March 27 Dean of the College email to undergraduates re: grading policy refinements

Date: March 27, 2020 

From: Dean of the College Jill Dolan 

To: Undergraduate Students

I trust by now that you’re all completing your first week of online classes as our semester continues. I’ve heard from many faculty colleagues that although different, their lectures, precepts, and seminars have gone very well. They’re delighted to see your faces online and to meet, virtually, your dogs, cats, and siblings. We’re all moved and impressed by your continued engagement in your courses and your resolute commitment to learning. 

I want to update you on some recently approved refinements to this semester’s extraordinary grading policy. On March 24, the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study, working closely with the Academic Affairs Committee of the USG, endorsed these policy amendments for spring 2020. The Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing approved them on March 26: 

1. The University will add the P/D/F option to all undergraduate courses. Faculty retain the option to elect the P/D/F-only grading option for their courses. 

2. The University will stipulate that a recorded grade of “P” for courses completed in spring 2020 will fulfill all University general education requirements, prerequisites, departmentals, and requirements for certificate programs. 

3. The final deadline for students to elect the P/D/F option for a graded course will be extended to Dean’s Date, which is Tuesday, May 12, 2020. (This will also be the deadline to drop a course.) Courses taken on a P/D/F basis this semester will not count against the total budget of P/D/F courses allowed per student under our regular policies. 

4. The Senior Thesis, Senior Exams, and Junior (and, where applicable, Sophomore) Independent Work may also be graded P/D/F optional or P/D/F only, at the discretion of each department. 

The P/D/F option will extend to all University requirements, including the language requirement. In addition, while all study abroad grades appear as “T” on the official transcript, study abroad students will be able to elect to P/D/F any of their courses for the purposes of the internal transcript (on TigerHub). 

Departments will determine honors for graduating seniors locally, as always. And the Registrar will decide how student transcripts will memorialize the extraordinary nature of this semester. 

My staff and I in the Office of the Dean of the College received hundreds of emails regarding this semester’s grading policy from students, parents, and faculty. We’ve considered all the positions advanced with care. We appreciate your lobbying and advocacy, and your many eloquent arguments about how to approach this work. The grading policies we’ve implemented and now refined have been evaluated and approved by two of our standing faculty committees. 

I realize that some of you will wish we’d made other choices; I understand. We won’t be able to arrive at a campus consensus around grading policies. We’re doing the best we can and those of us making these decisions—faculty, administrators, deans, the provost—feel we’ve made the ones that will work best for now. These policies will stand for Spring 2020. I do ask that you respect our decisions as final. 

One final reminder. As you know from settling into wherever you’re now living and working—which varies enormously across our student population—this pandemic has overturned everything. When you attend your virtual class with your professors, you might see their dogs or cats or hear their children in the background. Many of our faculty now juggle their at-home teaching responsibilities with tending to at-home children. They’re teaching you while they’re keeping their families safe, in a moment when we’re all unsure of the rules. 

Many of us might soon suffer unimaginable losses, as the virus spreads. Please let us know how you’re doing and how we can help. Let’s extend one another a large measure of patience, concern, and care. 

Stay grounded by your studying and your learning and your virtual engagements with your peers, instructors, staff, and the rest of the world (you might explore this website, where you can visit National Parks virtually; it made me very happy). Most importantly, stay well. 

I look forward to seeing you all again in person, at a time when we don’t have to police the distance between us. 

With all my best, Dean Dolan

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