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SenEx-University Senate Executive Committee 02/09/16

SenEx
February 9, 2016 - 3:00pm
Provost’s Conference Room
Agenda: 
  1. Announcements
     
  2. Approval of minutes from November 17
     
  3. Standing Reports
    1. University Senate President Mike Williams
    2. Faculty Senate President Tom Beisecker
    3. Student Senate President Zach George
    4. Staff President Chris Wallace
  1. Speakers: Nate Thomas, Vice Provost For Diversity and Equity, and Saida Bonifield, Project Manager.  Topic: Campus Climate Survey
  1. Update on Weapons issue
  1. Additional charge for Academic Policies and Procedures Committee (AP&P) (see minutes below)
  1. Proposed amendments to FacEx Appeals form and USRR 2.9.1 (see minutes below)
  1. Proposed amendment to USRR 2.2.5, grade changes for Graduate School (see minutes below)
  1. Old Business
     
  2. New Business

 

Minutes: 

MINUTES

UNIVERSITY SENATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - SenEx

February 9, 2016 – 3:00 p.m.

Provost Conference Room

 

Approved February 23, 2016

PRESENT: Mike Williams, Tom Beisecker, Joe Harrington, Pam Keller, Zach George, Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, Brent Lee, Chance Maginness, Amalia Monroe-Gulick, Liz Phillips, Peggy Robinson, Chris Wallace, Mady Womack

 

ABSENT:  None

 

ALSO PRESENT: Maureen Altman and Kathy Reed, University Governance; Nate Thomas, Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity; Saida Bonifield, Project Manager; Morgan Swartzlander, Graduate Student Services Manager for COGA; Student Program Manager, COGA.

         

Mike Williams called the meeting to order.  He welcomed guests Nate Thomas, Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity, and Saida Bonifield, Project Manager and asked the committee to allow them to give their presentation at the beginning of the meeting.  The committee approved.

 

MINUTES for November 17, 2015 were approved.  

 

STANDING REPORTS

University Senate President/SenEx Chair

Williams informed SenEx that he has been appointed to the Chancellor’s committee on weapons which will write the weapons implementation policy for the University.  The committee must complete their work by September 1 in order to forward the draft to the Regents for approval; KBOR is hoping the universities’ policies will be in place by fall.  As chair of the University Senate’s Ad Hoc Weapons Committee (WOCC) he will ask the Provost to roll the committee into the University’s committee.  Reporting about WOCC activities, Williams announced that they have reserved a table at the upcoming wellness fair and he will be doing an all-nighter to meet with the night staff on the 22nd to discuss weapons.  About 1000 witnessed the Weapons Information Session on December 8.  One comment he received was that pro-gun people didn’t feel comfortable to speak.  Williams reported that KU had the highest number of responses to the KBOR COFSP (Council of Faculty Senate Presidents) Faculty/Staff Weapons Survey (with Fort Hayes having the highest percentage response), and the majority of KU were against concealed carry on campus.  He is also on the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Committee which has been meeting weekly since early January, examining several issues including the weapons issue.  Ron Barrett-Gonzalez asked Williams if he felt the Provost and Chancellor planned to stand up to KBOR regarding weapons.  Williams responded that he felt the administration believes the University must follow state law.  On the other hand they have not been demanding that people not express their opinions, as individuals not as members of the KU community.     

Williams introduced Mady Womack, a sophomore Political Science major, as the new SenEx Student Senate member replacing Shegufta Huma who is doing an internship this semester.

Faculty Senate President/FacEx Chair 

Tom Beisecker reported that the Faculty Senate will discuss the Faculty Code on Thursday. 

He updated SenEx about some of the issues being considered by COFSP.  They are discussing implementation of the weapons policy; KBOR’s focus is on implementation and considers the issue of concealed carry legislation settled.  He said that he reported the weapons survey results for COFSP at the last KBOR meeting but felt there was little effect.  Transfer course credit within the system is also being discussed.  There are now approximately 60 transfer courses accepted for credit.   Traditionally only general education courses were accepted but COFSP is discussing whether there should be parameters set to limit expansion to transfer credit for introductory courses toward a major which is now being considered.  

Student Senate President

Zach George reported the Student Senate body decided not to move forward with impeachments.  Student Senate is supporting the Kansas Lifeline 911 bill which provides immunity to minors when medical help is needed and alcohol has been involved.  He told SenEx that 2000 students participated in a student survey which included questions about smoking on campus, and added that he hoped that when results are in the Student Senate will support the Tobacco Free Initiative.  Student fees will be reviewed this week.  When asked, George said he couldn’t comment on the UDK’s lawsuit against KU.

Staff Senate President

Chris Wallace reported that the Jeanette Johnson Professional Development Fund has given 16 awards amounting to $4500.  Staff Senate is in the process of creating a committee on diversity, adding that the senate is not very diverse and they would like to reach out to more communities.  He also informed SenEx that senate is not supporting the Tobacco Free Initiative and some members have made comparisons between gun and smoking policies, citing the inconsistency of guns being allowed while smoking would be prohibited.  

 

Nate Thomas, Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity, and Saida Bonifield, Project Manager.

Topic: Campus Climate Survey

Referencing his power-point presentation Nate Thomas explained that the Campus Climate Survey is a construct to measure current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students at KU so the university can work toward improving the environment for all, adding that discrimination is negative for everyone.  The survey is a system-wide network which KU owns and therefore can look at trends over time.  Saida Bonifield reported that currently focus groups are starting to complete the surveys for rollout to the University.  Thomas explained that in 2017 there will be town hall meetings about results to develop meaningful action steps.  He encouraged going to the website for more information. https://kuclimatestudy.ku.edu/

Williams added that the survey had started before the November 1 Town Hall Meeting on Race, Responsibility, Respect and Free Speech and was not a reaction to the meeting, emphasizing that the survey is not limited to diversity issues.

Thomas opened the meeting to questions.

In response to Chance Maginness questions as to how often the survey will be re-implemented and what will be done with the data, Thomas said that the University can make choices as to whether to do the survey every three, four, or five years, and that databased decisions will be made, particularly regarding where gaps are found, for example if staff is not feeling valued something will be done.  Bonifield added that the value of the survey is that it’s an overall, outside survey which is more confidential, and emphasized that they need people to respond.  To that end they are working with Rankin and would love SenEx’s help.

Brent Lee asked if the survey will look at population differences, or if the same survey be given to everyone.  Bonifield explained that they have logic skipping technology and drop down menus which will give them the ability to look at different populations. 

Concerns were expressed about how focus groups had been chosen and the lack of Governance’s role in the choice.  Thomas said he had gone to faculty governance and talked about the climate survey, adding that the choosing the focus groups was not an exclusive process, and not an administrative process working from the top down.  He explained that names of members of the focus groups were confidential so that they could feel comfortable in expressing their opinions.  Thomas assured SenEx that, in asking for nominations and using the vast experience of Rankin & Associates Consulting, the focus groups were inclusive, based on many positions at KU, for example marginalized populations, tenured faculty, work force, etc.  Williams added that answers from Rankin about the choice of focus group members was tolerable and was based on hundreds of other surveys they have done.  In response to Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, Thomas said that the top number cost of the survey was around 90,000 thousand dollars.

In conclusion Thomas requested SenEx to encourage people to take the survey. 

 

Additional Charge for Academic Policies and Procedures Committee (AP&P)

Motion to allow AP&P to add the charge to consider a new grading system for the field experience for pharmacy students.  Monroe-Gulick/Beisecker.  Passed.

 

Proposed amendments to FacEx Appeals form and USRR 2.9.1

Joe Harrington asked SenEx to help him and Pam Keller solve a problem regarding FacEx appeals.  While instructors must sign the Schedule Change form, currently no instructor signature is required on the FacEx form for students who want to add courses/sections.  Harrington would like to have confirmation from the instructor that the student who is adding late can make up missed work and complete the coursework.  He said the amendment would streamline the process so the instructor would not have to be contacted for approval which causes delays.  Harrington asked that SenEx approve the change of the FacEx form, as well as USRR 2.9.1    

Motion amend USRR 2.9.1 (and form) to require signature of instructor.  Harrington/Beisecker.  Passed.

 

Proposed amendment to USRR 2.2., grade changes for Graduate School

Williams introduced Morgan Swartzlander, Graduate Student Services Manager for COGA (College Office of Graduation Affairs), and asked her to explain the proposed change to USRR 2.2.5.  She informed SenEx that the proposal had been put forward by CLAS through former CLAS Dean Danny Anderson.  Swartzlander explained that the current use of S or U doesn’t reflect theses/dissertation work and SP (Satisfactory Progress, LP (Limited Progress) and NP (No Progress) would be a more appropriate grading system that would also reduce the time to degree.  Since instructors usually give S because they don’t want to hurt students who would lose funding if given a U, the new system would allow instructors more options.  Williams added that it would also fix the problem that Graduate Studies rules only allow students to receive six hours of S/U.  Swartzlander said that everyone in CLAS would not be required to use the system provided those who opted out would submit a rubric explaining what A to F means.  If the new system is approved CLAS would roll it out to others if they want to use it.

Motion to approve the new USRR 2.2.5.  Lee/Barrett-Gonzalez.  Passed.

 

Old Business

None

 

New Business

None

 

There was no further business.  The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Maureen Altman

 

 

 

Additional Charge for AP&P

 

 

FY2016 ACADEMIC POLICIES & PROCEDURES COMMITTEE (AP&P)

 

Approved by SenEx: May 27, 2015

Approved by University Senate: September 10, 2015

 

  • For further information or to schedule a meeting with SenEx to discuss charges or the committee’s work, contact SenEx Chair Michael Williams mikewms@ku.edu.
  • Minutes of each meeting should be e-mailed to the Governance Office (govern@ku.edu) as they are approved.  The minutes will be posted to the Governance web site
  • If the committee is recommending a change to university policy or rules, SenEx must officially receive that recommendation by March 29, 2016 in order to meet timeline requirements for full review by Governance.
  • Please send a report of the committee’s actions on each of the charges, as well as any recommendations the committee wishes to make concerning charges or membership for the following academic year, to University Governance, at govern@ku.edu, and submit the final report by April 15, 2016.

 

 

Standing charges:

 

  1. Be prepared to respond to SenEx requests for reviews of academic policy issues. (ongoing)

 

  1. Monitor proposals for academic program restructuring and discontinuance, hold hearings, and follow other procedures in accordance with Article VIII of the University Senate Rules and Regulations. Report issues or recommendations for action to SenEx. (ongoing)

 

  1. Consider input from Student Senate on desired changes to academic policies. (ongoing)

 

  1. FY2016 Committee - Review the University of Kansas’ Financial Exigency policy found in USRR, Art VII.  (See Governance Office for information.)  It was last reviewed by AP&P in FY11 and they did not suggest any changes at that time.  USRR 7.5.1 states that “Every five years after the official acceptance of this document by the Chancellor, it shall be reviewed by the University administration and by AP&P. Either group may then suggest revisions to the document.”   Any changes to the policy would ultimately go to the University Senate for a vote. 

 

Specific Charges:

 

  1. Evaluate the grade replacement policy USRR 2.2.8.  Review and amend as necessary.  Report to the University Senate by November 1, 2015.

 

  1. Consider the request from the office of the Registrar to add grades SP (Satisfactory Progress), LP (Limited Progress) and NP (No Progress) for thesis and dissertation hours for graduate students and to make a recommendation to SenEx by December 1, 2015. (see attached)

 

  1. Consider the request from the School of Pharmacy to add grades SH (Satisfactory with Honors), S (Satisfactory), F (Fail), and I (Incomplete) applicable to field work (clinical rotations) for grades assigned by preceptors.

 

  1. Working with the IT Security Officer, AP&P should establish protocols to assure maintenance of individual privacy in any changes to technology implementation.

 

 

Additional Charge for AP&P (Background)

 

Dear Michael,

 

Below is a request from the School of Pharmacy to change the grade basis for the field experience for pharmacy students. I support the request below and ask that University Governance review the request. As stated in the message below, if Governance supports the request, it will require a change to Senate Rules and Regulations, section 2.

 

This request will allow the pharmacy program to maintain the integrity of the grade point average attained through course work separate from the documentation of competencies in the field experience.

 

I fully support this request and ask that University Governance consider it as well.

 

Many thanks,

Sara

 

Sara Thomas Rosen, Ph.D.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Office of the Provost

The University of Kansas

Tel. +1 (785) 864-4904 | Fax. +1 (785) 864-4463

Email rosen@ku.edu  | Web www.provost.ku.edu

 

From: Sanders, Cindy
Sent: Monday, December 7, 2015 9:56 AM
To: Rosen, Sara Thomas <rosen@ku.edu>
Cc: Ball, Aileen <aball@ku.edu>; Day, Stuart A <day@ku.edu>; Grenus, Steven M <sgrenus@ku.edu>; Barnes, Brian J <bbarnes@ku.edu>
Subject: REVIEW NEEDED: Request for new grades and a new grading basis

 

Sara:

 

The School of Pharmacy is requesting a new grading basis of SH,S,F, I, applicable to field work (clinical rotations) for grades assigned by preceptors.  These are practicing pharmacists who mainly assess students and determine if they are competent or not.   According to Brian Barnes, Associate Dean, School of Pharmacy, “given that the majority of our preceptors are clinicians and not academics, they avoid assigning letter grades below the A level. As a result the vast majority of our students are assigned A’s for 44 of their 140 PharmD credit hours, resulting in grade inflation. We would require additional documentation for a preceptor to designate a student as having earned S (Hon.). This requirement will better differentiate student performance. “

 

Under the proposed new grading basis of SH, S, F, I, they expect that the majority of students will be awarded an S, and that perhaps 10% would be awarded S (Honors.) and 2% would earn an F or I.  In the present ABCDFI system nearly all students earn an A and we have no way of acknowledging truly exceptional performance. Additionally, Pharmacy states that the SH, S, F, I grading basis would correct the grade inflation they currently experience.  

 

The Office of the University Registrar supports this request and forwards it to you for your review and recommendation.  If you support this request, you will need to forward it to University Governance as University Senate Rules and Regulations section 2 will need to be modified to include the new grades.  Generally AP&P (Academic Policies and Procedures) is the committee that reviews these type of requests.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, Steve.

 

Cindy

 

Cindy Sanders, Ph.D.

Assistant Vice Provost – Enrollment Management

University Registrar

Director, Student Information Systems

cindysanders@ku.edu

(785) 864-7137

Proposed Amendment to 2.9.1

Amendment to USRR:

Section 9. Exceptions to University Wide Academic Policies

2.9.1 Under exceptional circumstances, a student or, if a physical or mental incapacity prevents the student from filing his or her own appeal, another individual on the student’s behalf, may petition for an exception to a University-wide academic policy. The petitioner must first contact the chair of the department or program involved follow the procedures on the FacEx, Exception to University-Wide Academic Policy Form (link). If the instructor (instructor’s approval required when adding, changing hours, changing sections or levels) and If the department Chair believes there may be exceptional circumstances exist, the petition shall be forwarded with a recommendation to the Dean of the College or School. If the Dean (or his/her designee) believes there may be exceptional circumstances exist, the petition shall be forwarded with a recommendation to the chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (FacEx). FacEx determines the specific content of the form according to this subsection.  For purposes of this subsection, provision, lack of knowledge of the appropriate policy is not an exceptional circumstance. FacEx’s The decision regarding of FacEx in regard to the petition request is final.

FacEx Exception to University-Wide Academic Policy

Petition Form

 

University Senate Rules and Regulations

Article II. Section 9Exceptions to University Wide Academic Policies:
Under exceptional circumstances, a student or, if a physical or mental incapacity prevents the student from filing his or her own appeal, another individual on the student’s behalf, may petition for an exception to a University-wide academic policy. The petitioner must first contact the chair of the department or program involved follow the procedures on the FacEx, Exception to University-Wide Academic Policy Form (link). If the instructor (instructor’s approval required when adding, changing hours, changing sections or levels) and If the department Chair believes there may be exceptional circumstances exist, the petition shall be forwarded with a recommendation to the Dean of the College or School. If the Dean (or his/her designee) believes there may be exceptional circumstances exist, the petition shall be forwarded with a recommendation to the chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (FacEx). FacEx determines the specific content of the form according to this subsection.  For purposes of this subsection, provision, lack of knowledge of the appropriate policy is not an exceptional circumstance. FacEx’s The decision regarding of FacEx in regard to the petition request is final.

 

Student completes Sections A, B, C, and D.  Instructor (when required) and Chair complete section E.  Dean (or his/her designee) completes Section F.

Section A.

Student Name: _________________________________________________KUID:______________________

                                      Print Name                                                                                          (7 –digit)


e-mail: ______________________________________             Please e-mail me when a decision has been made. 


Section B. Specify the action requested.  The request must identify the exceptional circumstances that warrant an exception to a university-wide academic policy.  After completing section B you must obtain the appropriate approvals as indicated.

 

____Withdrawal (USRR 2.2.5) after the published deadline: Requires approval from the chair of the department, the school in which the student is enrolled and a schedule change form (withdraw form if withdrawing from all classes).

____Add (FSRR 5.4.1) after the published deadline: Adding a course, change of hours and change of sections: Requires approval from the instructor of the course, the chair, the school in which the student is enrolled, and a schedule change form.

____CR/NC (USRR 2.2.7): Requires approval from the chair of the department and the school in which the student is enrolled, and a schedule change form. 
____Course Repeat (USRR 2.2.8): Requires approval from the chair of the department and the school in which the student is enrolled.

____Academic Forgiveness (USRR 2.8.1): Requires approval from the Dean of the school in which the student is enrolled.     

____Requirements for Graduation (USRR 3.1.1): Requires letter of explanation and approval from the Dean of the school in which the student is enrolled.

____Other ____________________________________________________________________________

 

Section C:
Semester: Fall____Spring____Summer___ Year: 20__
Class Number (5 digit number) Dept.  Catalog# (3 digit):


_____________________________________________________________________________________

Section D:
Describe the “exceptional circumstances” that may warrant an exception to the policy (attach documentation or a continuation page, as necessary.) Text must be legible:

 

I accept all responsibility for these actions:

Student’s Signature: __________________________________                Date _________________.

 

Section E: Instructor (when required) and Chair of the  department in which the course is taken: If the petitioner is asking to add a class, change hours, sections or levels, the instructor of the class must endorse before forwarding to the chair of the department.  If the chair and the instructor (when required) choose not to endorse this request, please inform the student. If the department and the instructor (when required) endorse the request, please provide the recommendation and the reason for it, and forward to the school/college’s designated administrator. (Attach documentation or a continuation page, as necessary)

 

 

 

 

Instructors Signature (required if adding a class, changing hours, sections and levels):

I certify that I have discussed expectations for this course with the student and arranged a plan for the student to complete missed and remaining requirements for the course.

 

Instructor: __________________________________________ Email: ____________________Phone: ______________Date:____________

 

 

Chair:  _____________________________________________ Email: ____________________  Phone_______________Date:_____________


 

Section F: College or School:  If the school/college does not endorse the student’s request, there is no basis for a request to FacEx. Please inform the department and student. If the school/college endorses the request, please provide the College/School’s recommendation and the reason for it and forward this form to the FacEx Review Committee, c/o University Governance, 33 Strong, govern@ku.edu, phone 864-5169.  (Attach documentation or a continuation page, as necessary)

 

Proposed Amendment to 2.2

POSSIBLE AMENDMENT TO USRR REGARDING NEW GRADING SYSTEM FOR DISSERTATION AND THEISIE HOURS.

Discussed at AP&P February 2, 2016 meeting

 

Rationale for Proposed Amendment for New USRR 2.2.5.

At the request of Danny Anderson, Former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Sara Rosen, Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, AP&P recommended the new grading system for CLAS (with the intention of offering to other schools) of SP (Satisfactory Progress), LP (Limited Progress), NP (No Progress) for dissertation and thesis hours or their approved equivalents to achieve the following:  1) bring the College into compliance with Graduate Studies policy, particularly with regard to the limitations on counting S/U grades for graduate credit, 2) allow departments some latitude in their grading practices, 3) provide students with grades that accurately reflect their progress through the degree program, and 4) support timely completion of all degree requirements.

USRR 2.2.4 The College or any school may use the letters P, to represent satisfactory progress during one semester of work for which a grade will be given only upon the completion of the course or project in a subsequent semester.

USRR 2.2.5 The College or any school may use the letters SP (Satisfactory Progress), LP (Limited Progress), NP (No Progress) only for dissertation and thesis hours or their approved equivalents.  In the case of a completing student, the grade assigned to the final thesis or dissertation hour enrollments must be an SP.

Proposed Amendment Background

April 22, 2015 email from Sara Rosen (Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs in FY15) to FY15 University Senate President Jonathan Mayhew and Mike Williams, FY15 Chair of AP&P (Academic Policies and Procedures).

Dear Johnathan and Michael,

The Office of the Registrar has submitted to me a request from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to add grades of SP (Satisfactory Progress), LP (Limited Progress) and NP (No Progress) for thesis and dissertation hours for graduate students. The request from CLAS is attached. The Office of Graduate Studies supports this request and would like to offer this grading basis to all of the schools who wish to use it for grading thesis and dissertation hours.

I also support the attached request and the recommendation that it be extended to all schools and the College.

I am submitting this request to you for your consideration in the hopes that you will ask Academic Policies and Procedures (AP&P) to review the request and lend its recommendation. I would hope that AP&P could be charged with considering this request in the fall 2015.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best, Sara

Sara Thomas Rosen, Ph.D.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Office of the Provost

The University of Kansas 

Tel. +1 (785) 864-4904 | Fax. +1 (785) 864-4463

Email rosen@ku.edu  | Web www.provost.ku.edu

Email Attachment from CLAS

To: Danny Anderson

From: Committee on Graduate Studies, CLAS

Subject: Recommendations on the grading of thesis and dissertation hours

Date: February 12, 2015

 

Dean's Charge

In Fall 2014, the Committee on Graduate Studies was asked to recommend a revision to the College's grading policy to include specific language on the grading of thesis and dissertation hours. The recommendations should achieve the following: 1) bring the College into compliance with University [Graduate Studies] policy, particularly with regard to the limitations on counting S/U grades for graduate credit, 2) allow departments some latitude in their grading practices, 3) provide students with grades that accurately reflect their progress through the degree program, and 4) support timely completion of all degree requirements.1

 

The Policies and Student Petitions sub-committee gathered data relating to the charge via a web-based Qualtrex survey distributed to all Directors of Graduate Study in the College. Twenty-nine DGS's of the 44 surveyed responded to the questions, for a 65% response rate. In addition to review and discussion of the survey responses, the subcommittee also reviewed existing University and College grading policy, College data from recent semesters on faculty grading

practices, and information provided by the Registrar on current grading options and their common uses. Finally, the sub-committee met with the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies to clarify remaining policy questions and discuss options that would meet both academic and policy objectives.

 

Recommendations

The Committee on Graduate Studies recommends the following course of action:

1. File a request with the Registrar and Graduate Studies to create a new grading scale for use only with dissertation and thesis hours or their approved equivalents. The grading scale should have the following options:

a. SP - Satisfactory Progress: Progress is consistent with the goals for the semester as agreed upon with the advisor; supports timely completion of the degree.

b. LP - Limited Progress: Progress is less than what was agreed upon with the advisor; may cause delays in timely degree completion. Academic probation may be warranted.

c. NP - No Progress: The student has provided no evidence of progress on the thesis or dissertation work, or the work completed was insufficient to move the thesis or dissertation project forward.

 

Academic probation is strongly encouraged. Dismissal may be warranted.

In the case of a completing student, the grade assigned to the final thesis or dissertation hour enrollments must be an SP.

 

2. Once approved, provide all departments an opportunity to opt-in to the new grading scale.2 The process for switching should be managed by COGA to ease the burden on departments, and communications should highlight advantages of the new scales versus limitations of letter-grade scales.

_____________________

1 The Dean's request included a second charge relating to the enrollment in research hours prior to the comprehensive exam. The committee will address this charge in a separate report.

2 Departments may choose one scale for thesis hours and a different scale for dissertation hours.

3. Require those departments currently using the S/U grading basis for thesis and dissertation hours to choose another grading scale to ensure compliance with Graduate Studies policy. They should be allowed to continue to use S/U until the new grading scale is available for use.

4. Require departments that choose to remain with their current grading scale to provide a brief explanation of how the scale is applied to the grading of thesis and dissertation hours, and in the

case of dissertation hours, how grading practices are used in tandem with other evaluative measures appropriate to the post-comprehensive student. This statement should be included in the program requirements section of the catalog, beginning no later than the 2017-2018 version.

5. Modify College grading policies to align with Graduate Studies policy and to include information on the new grading scale. The proposed policy will be reviewed and approved by College governance prior to the next catalog cycle.

 

Discussion

The sub-committee weighed several options in arriving at these final recommendations. Members discussed but ultimately abandoned the idea to request that Graduate Studies revise their policy to allow for continued use of the S/U grade. The assignment of U grades is rare. But when assigned, they are interpreted as the equivalent of F by the some University offices and can

negatively impact financial aid, student visa status, and graduate assistantships.  The pass/fail implications of this scale do not necessarily match faculty intentions in these cases, and members felt there was insufficient understanding about the potential consequences of a U grade to make the S/U grade a viable option for wider adoption.

 

In reviewing data on actual grading practices in the College and the responses of DGS's, it was clear that faculty in departments using a letter grade scale frequently use them in a manner that mirrors the S/U scale: Faculty members rarely assign a grade other than "A" to thesis and dissertation hours. The very rare instances in which an intermediate or failing grade is assigned suggests that "A" is most often deemed the equivalent of satisfactory or better, with other 

grades used to signal less than expected progress or performance. Moreover, the committee discussed the mismatch between a letter grade scale and the nature of the work completed while enrolled in dissertation and thesis hours. The potential impact of the letter grade scale on GPA was one consideration. The committee felt that GPA should reflect grades earned through regular graduate coursework and not unduly impacted by high levels of dissertation and thesis

hour enrollment.

 

A small number of departments that continue to use a letter grade scale with P option most often assign the "P." In the final semester a letter grade must be assigned. Letter grades may be used to signal less than adequate progress, but practices vary by individual and program.

 

Finally, the sub-committee expressed concerns about a lack of clarity in the use of letter grades in any form. The range of options on the letter scale, coupled with variability among faculty members grading practices, leaves ample room for misunderstanding and ambiguity. It may also serve to put too much emphasis on the grade itself, as opposed to other measures by which programs convey information about their progress through the program and their development as a scholar (e.g., annual reviews).

 

In response to these findings, the committee believes a new grading scale will most accurately reflect the unique conditions of thesis and dissertation hour enrollment and the actual grading practices of faculty members. The scale will offer flexibility to the faculty member without sacrificing clarity for the student. Especially when coupled with other department-specific evaluative measures, it will support rather than hinder clear communications on academic progress.


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