Dear Twin Cities undergraduates,
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, you have been challenged to learn in new ways, often while managing added pressures in your personal lives. I have heard how hard this has been for many of you; how the barriers to your learning in this time and context have impacted you personally and professionally. Throughout this semester and especially in response to recent surges, you have urged me to continue the changes made to our grading policies in spring semester as a way to ameliorate those impacts.
Matters related to educational policy, like grading, are reserved for faculty. University policy affirms that instructors have the responsibility and authority to assign grades in their courses. Decisions about grading policies, including whether to use the A-F or S/N grading scale, are made at the campus, college, or program level, as reflected in the University's policy on Grading and Transcripts and the University Senate Constitution. Exceptions may be determined by the Provost, as was done under the extraordinary circumstances facing the University in Spring 2020 and in my earlier message for this academic year.
On December 3, 2020, the University Senate approved a resolution proposed by two student senators. The resolution urged me to make further exceptions to the grading policies for undergraduates for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. Faculty senators strongly approved the resolution, with 71% voting in favor (79-31-1).
Based on guidance from the Faculty senators vote, I am making the following changes to supersede and replace the grading basis changes communicated in earlier messages.
- Consistent with the resolution, undergraduate students enrolled in Twin Cities undergraduate courses may choose between S/N grading and A-F grading for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses. Students who wish to switch from A-F grading to S/N grading (or the opposite) for Fall 2020 should email One Stop Student Services ([email protected]) from January 4, 2021 to January 6, 2021. We will retain part of our previously announced policy that grades of F will automatically transition to N, but other changes will require an explicit request. Implementation details for Spring 2021 will be announced at a later date.
- Because circumstances differ on our different campuses and in different programs, these changes will apply to Twin Cities undergraduate courses only. I have spoken with leadership on the remaining system campuses, and urged them to engage with their faculty governance processes to reach a determination about their grading basis.
- Consistent with the resolution, the number of S/N credits taken by Twin Cities undergraduate students in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 will not count towards the cap of S/N credits allowed during their undergraduate program.
- As we did in Spring 2020, we will add a notation to Twin Cities undergraduate transcripts describing this exception to the normal grading policy.
- Consistent with the resolution, Twin Cities undergraduate students will be allowed to count classes taken under an S/N grade basis for all graduation and program requirements, provided they would have earned a grade that would have met those requirements under an A-F grade basis. Colleges or programs can and may request the underlying grades that students earned in order to make decisions about progress in the major or secondary admissions.
- As this choice may affect longer-term outcomes (e.g., admission to post-baccalaureate education, employment) as well as current outcomes like financial aid and scholarship eligibility, eligibility for the Dean’s list, athletic eligibility, intra-college transfers, accreditation, licensure and certifications (among others), I strongly urge students to become informed about the consequences of their choices. If you plan on changing an A-F grade to S/N please carefully look over the One Stop Student Services COVID-19 FAQ . For additional questions, consider asking your academic advisor or One Stop counselor.
- Modifications made to the probation process for Spring 2020 will be continued for Fall 2020, and the suspension of students is still on hold for Fall 2020.
Thank you all for your ongoing patience and flexibility as we continue to refine our policies in response to the wide-ranging challenges students are facing. I appreciate and value your advocacy for and support of our students, and encourage you to take care of your needs as well as theirs during these final weeks of the semester.
You will receive additional instructions from One Stop Student Services later this morning; please contact them at [email protected] with any questions you may have.
Executive Vice President and Provost
email sent to all Twin Cities undergraduate students on December 9, 2020