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Letter to Faculty

  • March, 27 2020

    Dear Colleagues,

    As the UMES Community works together through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain dedicated to our students’ academic success. Our comprehensive shift to remote instruction brings exceptional challenges for students, faculty, and staff alike, even as we all deal with parallel disruptions in our personal lives.

    We are committed to delivering continuous academic support – excellent instruction, advising, and mentoring -- to faculty, staff, and students to ensure that every student has the opportunity to be a successful learner, every faculty member, a successful teacher, and to offer everyone maximum support and flexibility. 

    In conjunction with the Faculty Assembly Academic Standing Committee, the UMES Senate, UMES Deans, Chairs, and the UMES Faculty body, Academic Affairs is making important adjustments to our Spring 2020 academic policies. The academic changes described below will allow students the opportunity to make the most informed decisions possible regarding their coursework, based on their individual circumstances, to ensure continued academic progress and timely degree completion. 

    We hope that by offering this flexibility, students will be able to adjust to their new academic environment and focus on learning in each course, so that they can successfully complete the Spring 2020 Semester without needing to withdraw. We also hope that this flexibility will help faculty focus on their primary objectives for students’ learning.


    For undergraduate students enrolled in the Spring 2020 Semester:


    • All undergraduate Spring 2020 courses will default to Pass/Fail.

    • If an undergraduate wants to convert any of their individual courses from a P/F to a letter grade, they will have the opportunity to do so beginning on Friday, April 10, 2020.  The last day to change a course from a P/F to a letter grade will be May 8 - the last day of classes.

    • Faculty will continue to assign grades to each student’s academic performance, as per their syllabi, so that they have criteria for assigning P/F, and also so that they will be able to quickly convert any P/F grade to a letter grade, if a student chooses. We highly recommend that faculty frequently keep students informed about their academic progress so that students can make informed decisions about their grades.

    • The process for changing a grade from P/F to a letter grade will be available to students on or before April 10, 2020.

    • Published prerequisite grades for classes taken in spring 2020 will still be enforced. Students and advisors need to be aware that for a number of general education courses, this prerequisite is a C.  As such, in any general education course that is part of a sequence in which a prerequisite exists (e,g, Math 099 or English Composition 101), the passing grade is a C or better.

    • A passing grade in any course that is part of a major will be C or better. In other words, for courses that count in a major where the expectation is a C or better to advance to the next course, students will need to earn a 70 percent or better to earn a pass (P).

    • A passing grade for courses that do not already have published prerequisite grades or that are not required as part of a major is a D or better.

    • Academic Affairs will work with the Center for Access and Academic Success (CAAS) and School Deans and Chairs to create a list of considerations that students should think about before making decisions about keeping any course grade P/F or making the change to a letter grade. 

    • Students will be strongly encouraged to check with their academic advisors and with the Office of Financial Aid about keeping P/F grades versus letter grades, to make sure that this is the right choice for them.

    • Students who are re-taking any course as a result of a first-time failure do not have the option of receiving a Pass/Fail Grade. The Registrar will not allow a P/F in these cases, but students, instructors, and advisors should still be vigilant.

    • Students should be aware that grades of “P” are not factored into cumulative GPA. Grades of “F,” however, are included in GPA. In courses where student elects to earn a letter grade, that grade will be figured into the student’s GPA for the semester, and will be counted towards their cumulative GPA.

    • The last date to withdraw from a course with a grade of W will be May 8.

    • The last date to withdraw from the university will remain as it is now, May 8.  

    • There will be no extension of the semester itself.  The last day of classes and final exams will all take place as indicated by the current academic calendar. A revised Spring 2020 Academic Calendar will be available beginning Friday, March 27th.  It will be posted on the Academic Affairs website and distributed to faculty, staff, and students.


    For graduate students enrolled in the Spring 2020 Semester:


    • Graduate and Professional School Deans are authorized to make decisions for their Schools’ programs for the Spring 2020 semester as they deem necessary, in concert with the graduate and professional faculty and the relevant disciplinary bodies.

    • Please consult the UMES School of Graduate Studies Guide to Remote Procedures for Spring 2020 for answers many questions related to Spring 2020.

    For ALL students:


    • If a student is passing a course but is unable to complete the coursework for reasons beyond the student’s control, the student may request to be granted an Incomplete grade (I). Students must have a written agreement according to UMES policy .

    • In a few specialized programs, Incomplete grades may be given for all students in a course where there is no other method of completing the coursework at this time.  (e.g. All flight courses in our Aviation program.) This option may only be exercised in conjunction with the Chair of the Department and Dean of the School, as it has multiple implications for students’ degree completions.

    • If a course session is going to be held synchronously, it should be held during the days and times for which it was scheduled.  If the course objectives are going to be met via asynchronous learning, each instructor must make it very clear when assignments are due (e.g. Monday, April 13th by 11:00pm).  Course instructors may choose a combination of synchronous and asynchronous modes; instructors are asked to use their best professional discretion as to how to set up learning environments for their students.

    Attached, please find a copy of this memo and a copy of the revised Spring 2020 academic calendar. A copy of the calendar will also be available on the Academic Affairs website. 

    We wish everyone success as we continue with the Spring 2020 semester. Please do not hesitate to reach out to CAAS, Department Chairs, Deans, Academic Affairs, and each other. Together, we are stronger.  



    Nancy S. Niemi

    Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

    University of Maryland Eastern Shore

    2020 Spring Academic Calendar

    Letter to Faculty