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COVID-19 Information

To:  Faculty & Staff

From: Provost Sue Ott Rowlands

Date:   March 31, 2020

Subject:  Policy Updates


Dear Colleagues,

As COVID-19 has dramatically impacted this semester, we are adjusting a number of our policies to account for these changes. We recognize that many of our faculty and staff have put in a large amount of work to transition to online teaching, and that faculty are working to help students adjust to a new way of learning. To that end, we will adjust NKU’s pass/fail policy for spring 2020 as follows.

Pass/Fail Policy Proposal for Spring 2020

In order to help students as they adjust to online learning, all undergraduate and graduate students will have the option during the Spring 2020 semester to request a change from a letter grade to pass/fail for any or all full-semester, second 7-week, or third five-week classes. 

  • Timeline: An email will be sent from the Registrar’s office on April 13th that will give students the option to change from a letter grade to pass/fail. This option will remain available until Friday, May 1st at 4:30 pm (the last day of classes). 
  • Applicability: This policy will apply to undergraduate and graduate courses only for the Spring 2020 semester and overrides any other pass/fail policies.
    • Pre-requisites: A “P” grade earned in spring 2020 will satisfy course pre-requisites that would otherwise require a letter grade.
    • Pass/Fail Limits: The catalog limits a student to 12 pass/fail credit hours that will count toward graduation. Courses taken for P/F during spring 2020 will not count toward that limit.
    • Academic Standing: Students on academic warning or probation will be held harmless for this academic term and will have another term to improve their academic standing.
  • Criteria for a Pass (P): A grade of D or better (undergraduate courses) or C or better (graduate courses) will be required for a grade of “P”.
  • GPA Calculation: A “P” grade does not figure into GPA, but an “F” grade will lower a student’s GPA. All courses for which students receive passing (P) grades will count toward degree requirements.  This overrides some departmental or college policies unless the department or college has evidence that their accrediting agency will not allow P/F grades.
  • No limit on P/F courses: There is no limit on the number of courses students can convert to pass/fail grading for this semester.
  • Advising: Please speak with your advisor prior to requesting a pass/fail option, especially in cases where a “Pass” grade may not qualify as an entrance requirement to a graduate or professional program or where academic progression or graduation may require the achievement of a certain GPA. Advisors and departments/schools can help students understand which courses should not be taken using the P/F option.
  • School-Based Scholars: SBS students must be assigned a letter grade and are not eligible to receive P/F grades.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is the main accrediting body for NKU, has extended temporary flexibility to universities to institute distance learning solutions across the campus as well as conferring “pass/fail” grades as a reasonable exception. Colleges and programs at NKU are consulting with individual accrediting agencies to ascertain their acceptance of pass/fail grades, and the deans or chairs/directors will notify students in these cases if P/F is not an option.

Student Evaluations of Faculty for Spring 2020

Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the move to alternative instruction, NKU has decided to modify the policy for student evaluations of faculty. It is important that evaluations continue this semester as scheduled, so students can assess faculty instruction.  This is especially important because many of you are investing a good deal of time and effort to be sure the students receive an exceptional learning experience despite the circumstances, and these efforts should be recognized. However, we hope this policy will offer some relief, acknowledging that the online transition has not been an easy one. The following policies will be modified for spring 2020 evaluations only.

  • Faculty will have the choice to include student evaluations from spring 2020 in their reappointment, promotion and tenure submissions or their annual performance reviews, but they are not required to do so.
  • Evaluations will be shared only with the faculty. It will be their choice if they are to be shared more widely with chairs/directors or deans.
  • Questions will be added to evaluations to ascertain the student experience during the unusual circumstances of spring 2020. These will not be included in faculty reports of student evaluations, but instead will be aggregated to help inform deans and chairs/directors about the overall performance of their units during the online transition.

Pausing the Tenure Clock

Because of the disruption caused by COVID-19 to faculty teaching, research and creative activity, and service, NKU is offering the option for pre-tenure faculty to request an extension on the tenure clock. This opportunity must be requested by faculty through the regular process outlined in the 2019 Faculty Handbook (Section 6.7). Faculty should send their request outlining reasons for requesting an extension of the tenure clock to their respective chair/director, who will then forward the request to the dean and the provost for approval no later than August 1st.

Thank you for all you are doing during this challenging time to ensure our students are successful.