University gives students options for grading scale

Justin Van't Hof

NMU sent out an announcement on Friday, March 20 about the new option for undergraduate students to choose their grading scale between satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

University President Fritz Erickson and members representing all sides of NMU worked together to come up with the decision to allow the option for students to choose their grading scale.


The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) union was active in these discussions and has been involved in the university’s
COVID-19 response. President of AAUP Wendy Farkas and the Chair of the Academic Senate Alec Lindsay and other members of NMU worked with each other to formulate this specific response.


“The lines of communications were open on this, the university worked together to find a workable solution,”AAUP Vice President Dwight Brady said.


Once grades are finalized and posted on May 7, undergraduate students will have until May 22, 2020 to choose their scale. Brady says students should work with their advisors to find out what works best for them.


The university decided to exclude graduate students from the decision to choose their grading scale. Director of Graduate Education Lisa Eckert said they came to this decision after evaluating concerns from staff and students. Graduate students were also given a two-week extension on any thesis projects to ease the stress caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.


“We want our students to be successful and meet all of their needs,” Eckert said.


Eckert, who is a member of the Council for Graduate Schools, has communicated with colleagues from all types of academic institutions to help ensure the decision encompasses all sides. She uses a chat board sponsored by the council to communicate with professors from all across the U.S.


“The faculty have been amazing, available and supportive. They care about their students so much and it’s been so gratifying. They are doing everything they can and they are doing absolutely amazing,”Eckert said.


The decision to allow undergraduate students the choice of satisfactory or unsatisfactory was one of just many responses NMU has taken to help accommodate during the pandemic.


“President Erickson has been very attentive and responsive. We have been making decisions as carefully but as quickly as we could so that students would know that we are all here to help them,” Eckert said. “We will do everything we can to make sure we are all successful for this
difficult time.”


The university has updates about NMUs response to the COVID-19 outbreak at www.nmu.edu/covid.