University slates final grade deadline

Carissa Alaimo

The University Calendar Committee has slated the date for faculty to submit final grades for Dec. 22 at noon, which is a few days earlier than usual.

In past years, the due date usually fell sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The date for final grade submission is decided for each semester by the University Calendar Committee, which schedules the dates for multiple academic calendars at one time, sometimes up to four years in advance.

The committee calculates the prospective due date for grade submission by beginning at the start date of the next semester, in this case Jan. 12, 2009, and then counting backward for the appropriate number of days needed for grade processing. The committee calculates a different due date needed for each final exam period and does not base this on a standardized number of days.

According to Dr. John Johannes, the vice president for Academic Affairs, the earlier deadline was necessary to meet the need for sufficient time to gather, process, distribute and utilize the fall term grades in making a number of serious academic decisions by the University’s Academic Standing Committee.

The Academic Standing Committee meets once the University is no longer in session following the completion of final exams to examine the final grades and performances of students during their first semester.

If there is a problem that would neccessitate action – such as academic probation or University dismissal – time must be available for the appeals process or for an internal or external transfer.

The students need the time to complete the internal transfer process, and the receiving colleges must review the necessary information from the committee early enough to make timely decisions.

The length of time that the University will be closed between the end of business on Dec. 23 and Jan. 5, 2009, also complicates the time constraints on faculty and the Administration, which must process all of the grades, according to Johannes.

“Getting grades as early as possible makes it possible to do this work, even though some of it has to be done by staff members who will need to work during the University’s closed period,” he said.

“The decision was driven by the mechanics of academic standards process and was not a decision based on convenience but necessity,” Johannes said. “It would be a huge disservice to students if the Academic Standing Committee could not be given the appropriate amount of time necessary to do their job on time.” According to Johannes, the Administration understands the difficulty faced by faculty because of the shortened time period to grade final exams before the grade submission.

Yet, the Registrar’s Office and the Academic Affairs Office make an effort so that there are few faculty members who are hit harder than others by this change.

According to Catherine Connor, associate dean on Enrollment Management, and Associate Registrar Melissa Gerding, the earlier start date for the spring semester will create an earlier grade submission date for the preceding fall semester.

It just so happens that the start date of the spring 2009 semester this year begins earlier than usual, which in turn pushed up all of the deadlines for the end of the fall 2008 semester.

“While it is a rarity to have the date slated before Christmas, as it usually occurs on Dec. 27 or 28, it still meets the University’s minimum 72-hour policy for grade submission,” Gerding said.