Campus Update from Provost Ross Alexander - April 2, 2020

Colleagues, 

As universities attempt to mitigate and address the myriad issues and challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, a percentage have implemented comprehensive “Pass-Fail” grading for all courses and programs for the entirety of the Spring 2020 semester, with no consensus either in-state or nationally. Results seem to be about evenly split. 

Here at UNA, after much consultation, feedback, and discussion with several constituency groups, including the Student Government Association, the University will not be implementing a wholesale “Pass-Fail” option for students during this current semester for several reasons, including:

1)      UNA is a “student-friendly” institution where students come first. Our faculty err on the side of over-accommodation of students and I am confident that they will work diligently to ensure that the transition to remote/online continues to go smoothly for students. UNA faculty deliver quality instruction, regardless of modality.

2)      UNA has a strong culture of online education, therefore the transition to the remote/online environment for the Spring 2020 semester has gone better than it has at many other institutions that do not possess that same culture. In fact, nearly 80% of ALL students at UNA take at least one online class per semester. Just as our faculty were ready for the transition, so were our students. Most of our traditional students have been taking online courses via Canvas as early as the 7th or 8thgrade. 

3)      Unlike other institutions, the current UNA grading scale does not include a Pass-Fail option. Should that option be added in the future? Perhaps, but doing so involves several on-campus and off-campus approvals and notifications, including SACSCOC.

4)      Instituting a comprehensive Pass-Fail option may negatively impact those students pursuing professional licensure or admission to graduate/professional school where grade point average is an admission or decision criterion. 

5)      As a matter of academic integrity, maintaining a fair, equitable, and rigorous learning environment is best for students both in the short and long-term.

I remain steadfastly impressed by how well the faculty and the campus community have transitioned and pivoted on an almost daily basis during the COVID-19 crisis, especially in the classroom. I am confident in firmly stating that students are receiving the same personalized, high-quality education they were pre-crisis. Thank you and Roar Lions!

Best,

Provost Ross Alexander

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