Academic accommodations update

Academic accommodations update

Dear Undergraduate Students,

As we draw nearer to the resumption of classes on March 23, I know that many of you are worried about a number of academic issues, from grading standards to the drop deadline, and from cancellation of individual classes to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on Commencement. I want to assure you that the university and my office have been working on these issues even as we have addressed the immediacy of responding to each day’s new information. I am writing today to update you on actions we are taking as it relates to academic accommodations for the Spring 2020 semester.

First, there has been concern and confusion about the status and due dates for classwork/assignments that were originally due the week of March 9. With the support of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, Interim Provost Matsuda is directing all faculty that no classwork that was due last week can be due until Friday, March 27. This also means that only work that was to be due the week of March 9 can be due on March 27. No new assignments can be due the week of March 23.

Last week, my office started working with Faculty Senate leadership to provide substantial academic accommodations for Spring 2020. The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate has approved a number of measures which have been sent to the full Senate for final approval at the next meeting on March 25. Specifically, the Senate will vote on the following:

  • Allowing undergraduates to declare any or all of their spring classes as Pass/Fall. Courses designated as S/U andfirst half-of-term courses are not eligible for this. If approved, this temporary rule will also allow students to uncover the letter grade of any course so designated as per existing university rules. Moreover, spring 2020 courses that remain P/F will not count against the four P/F courses allowed under university rules. Additionally, an adjustment and provision will be made within the university’s degree audit system (Degree Works) to allow Spring 2020 courses with a grade of “P” to be eligible towards an undergraduate student’s major, minor or certificate’s course requirements. The deadline for designating a class/classes as P/F will be extended until the last day of classes -- Friday, April 24.
  • Extending the spring 2020 course drop deadline for all undergraduates to Friday, April 24.

Faculty Senate will be convening on Wednesday, March 25, to discuss and vote on the academic accommodations described above. You can find this listed on the Faculty Senate website here.

Regrettably, we know that some students will be unable to complete a spring 2020 class due to the cessation of their program or course (e.g., those in some study abroad programs). University leaders have encouraged the Senate to be generous in allowing accommodations to address these disruptions of students’ academic plans. Accordingly, on March 25 the Faculty Senate will also consider a resolution stating that no student should have their expected graduation negatively impacted by these spring 2020 course cancellations. The resolution will endorse allowing the Dean of Undergraduates, in collaboration with the Committee on Examinations and Standing (EX&S), to exercise flexibility and compassion in looking for ways to accommodate student needs. This includes making possible graduation requirement exemptions, if or when necessary.

On behalf of everyone at Rice, know that you remain continually on our minds. We recognize the stress and disruption that this situation is causing, and my office is working collectively with faculty and staff across the university to ensure that everyone can complete this semester as successfully as possible. In the time ahead, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns that I can help you with (

Best wishes,
Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates