More (Update)...Responding to our times: proposed changes in grading policy (and beyond)

March 21, 2020


Many of you have followed up with specific questions about the implications of the provost's message on grading and related issues, and my message to you earlier today.  I have shared each of those inquiries with the administrators working through these issues.

My preference is to respond to each of you individually, but let me try and answer the raft of queries with another note to all. 

We are working though a number of necessary changes to internal rules and policies.  As we had said before – and, working in a community of present and future lawyers, as I should have said more clearly in my earlier message today – we propose to adjust COL bylaw requirements in light of any change in grading policy, including the changes now called for by the provost’s message.  

So, for example, we will adjust the graded units requirement to allow each student to make the choice between P/F and graded courses, for each class, as stated in the provost’s message, without also worrying about whether that choice will drop any person below that requirement.   That is just one example: there are many others.

What principles guide us in implementing this policy, as best we can apply them?

  • First, our goal is to reduce the burden on students. 
  • Second, we want to be as fair as possible, but recognize the inherently unequal impacts of all the changes taking place now, including those known now, and those to come.
  • Third, we want the rules to be as simple as possible (As in Einstein’s famous quote “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”)

We need to be thorough in this process.  We want your questions, and the faculty still needs to vote on Tuesday for any changes beyond the general and broad guidance from the provost.

I will not start a list of issues and adjustments here because it will be incomplete.  We will make a set of adjustments in light of what we hear from many of you and from Dean Brooks and Dean O’Grady.  

Faculty governance also calls for the opportunity for the faculty – informed by your questions and concerns – to review these changes in the curriculum committee (which, as always, includes student representation), and in the full faculty (by zoom!) at the regularly scheduled Tuesday faculty meeting. 

Please go to to offer comments or ask questions we should consider.  Your input will be very helpful as we work through the details.

Thank you,