Dear Unit Leaders,
We are writing to ask for your help to ensure our students understand UNC’s grading policies.
UNC’s longstanding, official grading policies assign a grading format on a per course basis. Letter grades (A-F) are used in the majority of courses, but satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grades are used in some cases (primarily internships, practica and other experiential learning courses). Because the grade format attaches to the course, all instructors teaching all sections of the course assign grades in accordance with the format approved for the course.
As many of you will recall, for the past three semesters (Spring 20, Fall 20 and Spring 21) UNC temporarily allowed S/U grades on a per-student basis. That accommodation gave individual students the option to receive an S+, S or U grade, instead of a standard letter-grade, for any or all of their courses at the end of the semester. Again, this was a temporary measure approved by the Faculty Senate in each of the past three semesters to help students manage the rapid transition to 100% online learning and other challenges caused by ongoing pandemic. It was never approved as a permanent change, and as of Fall 2021 UNC has returned to our official grading policies.
A variety of indicators suggest that quite a few of our students may not realize that there is no per-student S/U grading option at UNC, and hence may not understand that they will not be able to request that their grades be recorded on an S+/S/U format at the end of the current semester. We are working to get the word out to them through various social media channels, student affairs communications, and advising networks, but the most important source of information about grading and all other academic policies is the faculty.
Will you please reach out to all faculty in your unit – including adjunct faculty and graduate students with teaching responsibilities -- and encourage them to make announcements in each of their classes? We trust that faculty will know best how to communicate in a way that fits with the context of their own courses, but the core message we want to make sure students hear is that allstudents will be graded in accordance with the official grading policy found on the course syllabus, and no student will have an S/U option in any course that is letter-graded.
Thank you for helping us with this important communication, and for everything else you do to support student success at UNC.
Nancy J. Matchett, Associate Provost and AVP for Undergraduate Studies
Jeri-Anne Lyons, AVP for Research and Dean of the Graduate School
Stephanie Torrez, AVP for Student Academic Success
Oscar Levin, Chair of the Faculty Senate