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Provost announces changes to academic policy due to COVID-19

| Friday, March 27, 2020

University Provost Thomas Burish announced several changes to Notre Dame’s academic policies, including the implementation of a pass/no credit system for undergraduate and graduate students, in a letter to faculty Friday.

Under the new academic guidelines determined by the Academic Council, Burish said, students will be able to view their grades at the end of the semester and elect to either accept the letter grade options or choose a pass/no credit option, according to the release. For undergraduates, students receiving a letter grade of A through D can receive a pass, and those receiving an F can choose the no-credit option. If they choose, graduate students will receive a pass for grades from A to C and a no-credit result for grades ranging from C- to F. 

Pass and no-credit grades will not affect a student’s grade point average, according to the letter. 

Other updates to academic policies include a temporary expansion of the Leave of Absence policy for undergraduate students. 

“For the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, any undergraduate student who withdraws from classes due to a specific COVID-19-related concern will be granted a leave of absence and be allowed to automatically re-enroll in the fall,” Burish said.

Students wishing to take a leave of absence must seek approval from the dean of the school or college of their primary degree or the dean’s designee and re-enroll by the first class day of the fall 2020 semester, the release said.

Students writing theses and dissertations will receive an extension in light of the pandemic. The deadlines for defending a thesis or dissertation have been prolonged from March 30 for defense and April 6 for submission to April 20 for defense and April 27 for submission, according to the report.

Professors seeking tenure have also been granted an automatic one-year extension for probationary faculty who are not currently being reviewed for tenure, according to the letter.

“Tenure-track faculty members who wish to opt-out of the automatic extension of the tenure clock must notify their dean in writing no later than one year prior to the time when they would otherwise come up for tenure,” Burish said.

Faculty who are currently supposed to have their tenure reviewed in the upcoming academic year should notify, in writing, the dean of the college they are employed under if they want to opt-out of the extension, the letter said.

In the letter, Burish expressed his gratitude for the work University faculty have been doing to adjust academics due to COVID-19. 

“It is often said that a crisis brings out the best in people, and that is surely what I have witnessed during the past weeks,” Burish said. “Your ingenuity, selflessness and dedication in overcoming obstacles are both humbling and inspiring. I shall always be grateful for your efforts and example.”

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