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Tuition or grades: which rise faster?

Marvey Hersfeld | Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Editor’s Note: This article is a part of The Observer’s April Fools Special Section and is not meant to be taken seriously.

Citing competitive pressure from other leading universities and the popular notion of “you get what you pay for,” University President Father Jim Spankins announced that the average GPA of a Notre Dame graduate will increase 4.8 percent for 2008-09 academic year.

“We need to remain competitive with other leading institutions of higher education,” Spankins said. “The bottom line is we can’t charge more for a diploma without making it more attractive to the market. Our customers expect demonstrable increases in quality to account for superinflationary pricing.”

Spankins said specific increases would vary by department. He expressed his concern that a 4.8 percent grade raise would not be possible for all departments, as increasing an average GPA higher than 3.8165 by 4.8 percent would put it over the currently allowed maximum of 4.0.

“We expect the greatest beneficiaries of the 4.8 percent average increase to be the College of Engineering and the College of Science,” Spankins continued, citing the possibility of increases as high as 25 percemt without hitting 4.0. Other departments expressed displeasure with this dissimilarity.

Business school dean Caroling Foo called the 4.0 maximum “absurd” and “anachronistic.” The limitation of any increase to a 4.0 maximum is speculated to cause the lowest grade increase across all departments for either the College of Business or the College of Arts and Letters.

“We need to take the lead on this issue, and bring collegiate grading policy into the 21st century,” Foo said. “If only all the marketing majors were as stupid as the engineers, then everyone could get a 4.8 percent increase. It doesn’t make sense to punish our college for the unmatched work ethic of its students, as evidenced by their high GPAs.” Foo added that a marketing class was in the midst of developing a convincing Powerpoint presentation that she felt would sway Spankins’ thinking.

Addressing concerns about the impact higher grades would have on distinguishing between the best and worst students, Spankins explained that greater weight would be given to previously less significant decimal places.

Spankins emphasized fundamental economics as the basis for the Board of Trustees’ decision to up grade inflation. “You have a $129,648 degree with a 3.4 GPA in 2008, and then in 2009 you expect a $136,476 degree with a 3.4 GPA to be flying off the shelves? Please. Be reasonable. Make it a 3.56.”