Kat Namon ’22
The faculty met on Tuesday, Aug. 18 and passed two motions, one relative to graduating with 34.5 credits, rather than the usual 36, and another relative to class rank, Pass/Low Pass/Fail, and other Academic Affairs Committee accommodations for the fall semester.
The Curriculum Committee’s motion passed and allows undergraduate students who have “matriculated as of May 7, 2021 to graduate with a minimum of 34.5 credits, provided all other graduation requirements have been fulfilled.” The minimum number of 34.5 credits was chosen because it translates into the minimum number of semester hours permitted for a bachelor’s degree by federal standards.
The rationale behind this motion was to ease the burden of constantly changing circumstances and the fact that “many students in all graduating classes have continued and will continue to face hardships that may prevent them from being able to complete the normally required credits for graduation.” This motion will also allow students to complete only eight credits for the entire academic year of 2020-2021 and remain in good standing. It passed with 87% of the faculty voting in favor, 6% voting against, and 6% abstaining.
Faculty Secretary and Associate Professor of Economics Mark Stater spoke to the Tripod following the meeting, adding that he “hopes the motions will give students some peace of mind that completing the 8 credits that are required this year will keep them on track to graduation and in good academic standing.”
The Academic Affairs Committee’s motion also passed and provides that for the 2020-2021 academic year, a student will be considered in good academic standing upon “passing at least 4 credits over the combined fall and J-term semesters, and passing at least 4 credits over the combined spring and summer session 1 semesters, in order to stay in line with satisfactory academic progress.” Additionally, the date to convert a class to P/LP/F was extended from 6 class days after classes begin until the “midpoint of the semester.”
The motion also states that for the 2020-2021 academic year, faculty may enter a grade of “I” for incomplete “at their own discretion.” This “I” would remain a student’s official grade for up to the last day of the following semester, at which point the “work must be completed and a letter grade entered.” Finally, the motion provided that for the classes of 2021-2023, spring 2020 grades will be excluded from the calculation of their class rank. This exception, however, does not impact Faculty Honors or Latin Honors, but is intended to “minimize harm to students who were unable to complete the semester to the best of their ability.” The motion passed with the 92% of the faculty voting in favor, 1% voting against, and 7% abstaining.
During the Faculty Meeting, Professor of Engineering John Mertens questioned whether it had been decided that grades during the spring 2020 semester would be calculated in the overall GPA of a student, although they would not be factored into class rank. Co-Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and Assistant Professor of Psychology Molly Helt confirmed Merten’s question and clarified that the Committee wants “students to benefit if they were able to do well, [but] what we didn’t want was to allow them to pull ahead of students who were not able to do well last semester.” Helt further stated that in bringing this motion, “we statistically know that the one [student] that was able to do well had more privilege… we didn’t want the current situation to exacerbate current inequity.”
Stater also indicated that he hopes students have “the reassurance in knowing that, if unforeseen difficulties arise, there is more time to convert a class to pass-fail and an easier process for obtaining an incomplete if needed.” Additionally, Stater indicated his appreciation for the proactive nature of the motions, which offer “the opportunity to address these items ahead of time [that] will contribute to a smoother, more certain process than the conditions of spring allowed.”
The faculty will meet again on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to welcome new faculty.