March 26, 2020 Senate Meeting Summary

Remarks by Mary Wack, Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Introduction of draft emergency adjustments to grading policy for Spring 2020.

The sudden shift to online instruction has raised concerns about equity in grading, especially with reduced academic support, life disruptions, potential loss of income, and displacement from the usual educational settings. The current plan is an attempt by the Provost’s Office, the Registrar’s Office, colleges and campuses to balance a number of these considerations.


  • WSU is different from other Washington State institutions that are on the quarter system. More than half of the semester is over. WSU is best positioned among institutions to transition to online delivery and preserve some degree of normalcy in our academic enterprise.
  • We need to provide as much flexibility and choice as we can for students. Many of them have difficult situations and we need to support them through this.
  • Some students may not want or might be academically harmed by Pass/Fail in all of their courses.
  • The State of Washington is on the leading edge of the COVID-19 situation. Accreditors across the country have not all caught up to what this is doing to teaching and learning with regard to accreditation standards to requirements. Example: Health sciences disciplines across the country have not come to a consensus over the acceptance of Pass/Fail grading.

Proposed Adjustments (Draft, updated 3/27, final policy to be released the week of 3/30/20):

  • P/F grading option can be requested on a course-by-course basis until June 1. Students can also reverse a request for any course.
  • P/F option can be used for UCORE and Honors courses.
  • There will be a form online through the Registrar’s Office to request this option.
  • Advisor approval is not required (no easy way to gather signatures), but the form will strongly recommend students contact advisors, as well as consider financial aid impacts.
  • The limit for W (course withdrawal) is raised from 4 to 6 and extended to May 1.

The website for students to request P/F grading is:

As points of information:

  • P = A, B, C; F = F
  • A new grade, PP = C-, D+, D, will be used
  • P will satisfy prerequisites requiring C or above when PERC runs
  • PP gives passing credit
  • PP may not satisfy some prerequisites
  • The advantage of the P, PP grade option is it has no negative impact on the student’s GPA whereas a letter grade, in particular C-, D+, D, could have a negative impact. It also allows P = C and above to satisfy prerequisites and requirements in many majors.
  • Departments should be extremely generous in accepting P and PP grades for their requirements. In particular, students with the fewest resources to transition online are the ones who will need P/F flexibility the most. From an equity standpoint we need to open this window wide.

Other grading options are being investigated. Some of these changes will impact federal financial aid; we’re moving as fast as we can while making sure there’s no impact to students’ aid packages and satisfactory academic progress. In addition, we are examining the academic regulations surrounding academic probation and dismissal (i.e. Rule 38, Rule 38b, Rule 39 and Rule 41); application of these rules may need to be adjusted this semester so the impact of the aforementioned grading policies won’t negatively impact student’s academic progress.

Information Items:

Elections were certified on March 25, 2020

  • Chair-Elect: Doug Call
  • Executive Secretary: Matt Hudelson


  1. System-wide COVID-19 Town Hall will be held tomorrow, March 27 at 11:00 am
  2. Elections were certified March 25, 2020.
      1. Chair-Elect is Doug Call
      2. Executive Secretary is Matt Hudelson
  3. David Turnbull reported that the provost search schedule had not changed.
  4. Sarah Ullrich-French reported the Faculty Status Committee has updated membership bylaws to include career track faculty.
  5. Senate responses to the draft strategic plan were presented to President Schulz.
Agenda Items:
  • All Action Items were approved.
  • All Discussion Items will move forward as Action Items for the April 9 meeting.
Constituents’ Concerns:


  • A request was made to form a Faculty Senate Task Force on reforming faculty hiring practices in a more collaborative manner. It was noted that HRS in some locations has been very difficult to work with and that a task force could bring forth some recommendations to reform this process with HRS. Glen Duncan is willing to chair this task force. The Chair also advised this will be discussed further at the next Faculty Senate Steering Committee.
  • Concerns were raised that faculty input is not being involved in policies and procedures that impact faculty, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was noted that this will be discussed at the next meeting with the president and provost.
  • An update was requested regarding the status of the ongoing gender bias investigation surrounding the removal of former provost, Mitzi Montoya. Administration will be asked to provide an update at the next senate meeting on April 9.
  • Questions were raised on tenure and annual review practices. Responses to these concerns are below:

Tenure Clock Extensions:

All tenure clocks will be extended one year. Faculty can opt-out of receiving this extension. For faculty who use this automatic extension, it will not count towards the maximum number of extensions as described in the Faculty Manual III.C.3.f: “Requests for an extension for these reasons will be routinely granted by the provost, although normally, a maximum of two extensions will be permitted.”

For faculty who receive the extension, promotion expectations will remain the same. Again, from the Faculty Manual III.C.3.f: “The standards for tenure and promotion remain the same for faculty who have been granted a tenure clock extension and/or an intensive review deferral. Even though a faculty member may be given a longer period of time in which to meet these standards, the faculty member should be held to the same performance standards as a faculty member who has not received an extension.”

Annual Reviews (from the email to all faculty from the Provost on March 20, 2020):

  • Colleges have the option of extending annual reviews to May 1. Faculty should email their chair to determine their school or department AR schedule

Intensive Progress-Toward-Tenure Reviews for Faculty in their Third Year:

  • For faculty who are in their third year now (or if 2020 is the year designated for the progress-toward-tenure review):
    • If you have already completed your intensive progress-toward-tenure review, you will receive feedback this year. Otherwise, you should wait and complete this review next year.
  • For faculty who are in their first or second years:
    • Please submit your intensive progress-toward-tenure review materials one year later than planned (for most this will be your fourth year).


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