Adjustments to due dates in the first week back; expansion of the pass-fail option for undergraduate

Adjustments to due dates in the first week back; expansion of the pass-fail option for undergraduate

Dear Colleagues, 

I’m grateful for your very thoughtful, creative, and nimble approaches to the extreme circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated disruption to students, faculty, and staff.  

With the support of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, Rice is establishing several days of freedom from submitting and accepting work for courses. Students, faculty, and staff have had substantial demands on their time and attention. We need everyone in the community to become secure about both their hardware and their familiarity with software in order to fully ramp up to the new course delivery options that are being instituted.

Rice is consequently requiring that no work can be due on March 23, 24, 25, and 26.  Only work that was to be due the week of March 9 can be due on March 27.  Other assignments and new assignments cannot be due before March 30.  

I and the Senate Executive Committee encourage you to carefully consider what material to cover in courses. It’s reasonable to develop an entirely new syllabus for the remaining time in your class.  Please keep the constraints of both time and delivery method in mind, and establish pragmatic expectations for both yourself and your students.  The focus should be on achieving the course learning outcomes instead of necessarily covering all the original planned content.  Please don’t put an undue burden on students to make up all the material that might have been missed due to the cancellation of courses the week before Spring Break.  That’s not the world in which we now live.   

Our Faculty Senate will vote on Wednesday on a proposal to make all classes taken by undergraduate students eligible as P/F.  Faculty and instructors would continue to submit letter grades for the courses as normal, and the undergraduate student would have until the Last Day of Class to elect the P/F option.  This option would only apply to letter-grade courses (not S/U).   I support this proposal, and I encourage you to convey your thoughts to your senator.  

Note that the grading of classes taken by graduate students will not change  The graduate students have generally not had housing disruptions, and they are generally not taking classes far from their disciplinary expertise.  

I’m sorry about this adjustment and I hope that it does not complicate your plans in an unmanageable way.  This has been a demanding undertaking and I’m grateful to work with such extraordinary and dedicated people. 

With my very best regards, 



Seiichi P. T. Matsuda

Interim Provost
Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
E. Dell Butcher Professor of Chemistry
Professor of BioSciences
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