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An update regarding UNH’s pass/fail motion

Less than two days after its Faculty Senate passed a motion encouraging the implementation of a “pass/fail” course system for the remainder of the spring semester in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) emailed its response to the motion, and its plans to implement the temporary system, to the UNH community. Students will be able to change any “letter grade course” to a pass/fail grade.  

The April 2 email, sent from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Wayne Jones and authored by Faculty Senate Chair David Bachrach and University Registrar Andrew Colby, reiterated the terms of the motion – which The New Hampshire detailed in a Thursday, April 2 report – while stressing the April 28 deadline for undergraduate students and the university’s commitment to “quickly” develop the new system for use on WebCat; the university stated that they expect to begin the process “early next week.” 

The “pass/fail” system does not apply to graduate courses or courses in the UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law, according to the email. 

The email additionally stated that the Faculty Senate based its decision to pass the motion on three “objectives:” maintaining “equity” among the student body and for individual abilities to complete their degrees, providing “flexibility” for faculty as they alter their courses for the new system and “new modes of instruction while not inadvertently taxing students,” and ensuring “simplicity” and “clarity” on the policy front to “help ease concerns, confusion and stress on the university community.” 

Bachrach and Colby encouraged community members to refer to UNH’s COVID-19 FAQ webpage and encouraged students to speak with their academic advisors for more information regarding the changes, disclaiming in the email that it was not designed to provide “specific guidance” on how courses should proceed or whether they should adopt the “pass/fail” motion. 

“There are important considerations for undergraduates to weigh to determine whether a change is appropriate, especially for major requirements,” the email read. “We urge everyone to read very carefully the guidance available and, most importantly, for undergraduates to talk with their academic advisor about the choice.” 

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