March 23, 2020 Update

March 23, 2020 Update

To the Dartmouth community,

It is no understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has upended all of higher education, including Dartmouth. As President Hanlon noted in his message to our community yesterday, the rapid implementation of social distancing and the movement of learning to online formats has disrupted the lives of everyone—our students, our faculty, and our staff—and these shifts have affected our local Upper Valley community in very direct ways. And yet, even with change the likes of which we have never seen, neither in scale nor in pace, I have been impressed by and grateful for the ways in which all of Dartmouth is working to meet this challenge.

Late last week and over the weekend, academic leaders across campus worked to finalize the details of a grading policy for the upcoming remote-learning spring term.

SPRING TERM GRADING POLICY First and foremost, we will implement a credit/no credit (CT/NC) grading system for all undergraduate courses during spring term 2020.

During spring term, all undergraduate student work will continue to be rigorously assessed and evaluated, and academic citations will still be awarded for exceptional work according to existing guidelines. Spring term courses may be used for general education requirements and can be applied toward a student's major but will not be factored into grade point averages; median grades will not be reported for spring term.

In arriving at this decision for spring term undergraduate courses, we considered several options, including grading as usual, expanded student choice (non-recording option or NRO), and a single system for all undergraduate courses (credit/no credit). In the end, we recognized that the shift to remote learning will affect our students in many ways.

Some students, particularly those who join the Dartmouth community from regions across the globe, will be challenged by synchronous discussions from a range of time zones. Some will have limited access to bandwidth or to necessary hardware, particularly with the closing of libraries and other public high-bandwidth places across the country. Still others will be living in homes where caregiving and other family demands will affect their ability to work effectively. Some may themselves fall ill. And all will need to rely on teleconferencing for meetings with faculty, peers, and advisers.

While some students may thrive in this distance-learning scenario, we decided that uniform grading, for this term only, was the fairest way to support all of our undergraduate students, and would give our faculty time to focus on the content of their coursework while also providing the opportunity to develop assessments that can be used if remote learning continues into summer term.

The CT/NC grading system will apply to undergraduate courses only; graduate and professional schools and programs will be using their typical grading systems unless they notify students otherwise.

The change will apply only to spring term 2020. Summer term will return to regular grading, even if summer term is taught partly or entirely through remote learning.

COURSE LIST, SPRING TERM The list of available spring term courses, which includes arts and science and engineering classes, is being finalized and will be posted today on the Timetable for Class Meetings at:

UNDERGRADUATE SWIM TEST AND PHYSICAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENT We have also decided to suspend the requirements of a successful swim test and a physical education credit for those undergraduate students who are graduating in June and have not yet met these requirements.

POSTING OF FAQ WEB PAGE We have appreciated hearing from members of the Dartmouth community on these and other important topics, including the Student Assembly who compiled a list of questions generated by our undergraduates. We have posted an FAQ to address these inquiries on the Dartmouth COVID-19 website. They can be found at:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to respond to these unique circumstances and work to preserve academic continuity for the entire Dartmouth community.


Joseph Helble