Effective today, I am approving the recommendations for a temporary modification to the pass-fail grading policy for the fall 2020 semester. These recommendations were made by the Academic Affairs Committee of the University Senate and approved by the Senate at its meeting on November 18.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students will have until Monday, December 7, 2020, the last day of classes, to select the pass-fail option for courses taken this semester. This extends the pass-fail selection deadline from its original date of October 5, 2020.

  • A student may select a maximum of two fall 2020 courses to which to apply this pass-fail grading option as a part of this deadline extension.

There are several important details that students must know about this temporary modification:

  • The pass-fail option is not required and will not be automatic.

  • It is critical that students talk about the option of pass-fail grading with their advisor and with the Office of Financial Aid, as pass-fail grading may affect financial aid, scholarships, transfer credits, graduate school admission, and other important issues.

  • Student requests must be approved by the department chair (or the chair's designee) of the student's major.

  • Some courses may be excluded from the option of pass-fail, because of program and/or accreditation requirements.

  • All courses for which passing (P) grades have been assigned will count toward degree requirements.

  • Once the request has been submitted, this pass-fail option may not be reversed.

  • This policy does not apply for incomplete grades being converted in the fall 2020 semester; incomplete designations for fall 2020 courses may not be converted to a pass-fail grade.

  • The pass-fail option must be requested before the final grades are posted.

The details of the pass-fail option are complex. Specifics about processes to follow to participate in this pass-fail option will be posted on the Office of the Registrar's website and on the Coronavirus Information web page soon.

My decision to approve these recommendations comes with sincere appreciation for the work of the Academic Affairs Committee and the University Senate. I also want to recognize the efforts of the Student Government Association in bringing its perspective and data gathered from students to the committee.

I also echo the sentiments of the Academic Affairs Committee in its rationale for this proposal: “These changes are being made with the sincere understanding of the pressures and stress that this pandemic has created in our lives, especially for our students.”

I join them in the hope that my approval of this recommendation reinforces our commitment to supporting students through their academic journey, especially in these unprecedented times.

Michael A. Driscoll