Bryant University Archway
Provost's message regarding spring semester grading
Apr 17, 2020, by Staff Writer

April 17, 2020

To: All Faculty, All Students, All Staff
From: Glenn Sulmasy, Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Re: Revised Grading Policy for Spring 2020 semester

Dear students and faculty:

Bryant takes pride in our commitment to academic excellence.  Certainly, our faculty and students understand the University’s collective commitment to success.  However, we must acknowledge that the COVID-19 crisis has made this an extraordinary time for higher education.  We fully recognize and appreciate the diligence, hard work, and remarkable innovation and flexibility our faculty have shown in meeting the challenge of moving an entire semester of teaching online within an extremely short period of time. 

Yet we also recognize that there are countless ways in which the global pandemic has created disruptions for our students.  Many have had to deal with less than ideal conditions while attempting to complete the semester (impacts of parents diagnosed, family members in the same home working remotely, siblings, etc.); many have experienced disparate or sporadic issues with their bandwidth and connectivity to the internet; others have not been able to obtain the same “in person” experience when going to seek extra help (although all of these are online and being carried out effectively by academic affairs’ staff, for many the experience of personal touch they are accustomed to enjoying is no longer “there”); and for those students who have learning disabilities, this transition can potentially be very problematic.  To say the least, these issues, among others, have made the second half of our semester difficult.  As a result, we want to ensure all of you are aware that the Registrar will note, on every transcript, that this spring semester of 2020 was impacted by the COVID-19 virus. 

With our combined commitment to academic rigor, as well as a true cognizance of the circumstances in which our students are now operating, and with great input from faculty, department chairs and students, the Deans and I have recommended a pass-fail option for undergraduate students.  President Machtley has formally approved our recommendation of an alteration to the grading policy for the spring semester of 2020. Faculty will evaluate students normally, using letter grades. However, we will provide an option for a “pass-fail” grade for all courses taken this semester. The option for a student to select a pass/fail will only be permitted after grades have been posted for each individual course. “Pass” grades will not count for the calculation of a student’s GPA but will still count toward degree completion and toward all other requirements based on GPA, such as, Dean’s List, Presidents’ List, Scholarships, Study Abroad, etc. (essentially, a “do no harm” impact).  Students intending to change their letter grades to P/F grades are advised to consult with their advisor to ensure such an option does not inadvertently impact their opportunity to pursue certain graduate programs, or to be removed from academic probationary status, etc.  Students considering exercising P/F option in any course should consult their advisers well in advance of the deadlines below. As a reminder, we have moved the last date for withdrawal from a given class until May 1, 2020 if that proves necessary.

The following schedule(s) for choosing pass/fail option will be strictly adhered to by the Registrar:

Undergraduate Programs

  • Class of 2020/Seniors: May exercise P/F option by Thursday, May 14, 12pm.
  • Classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023:  May exercise P/F option by Wed. May 20, 8am.

Graduate Programs

Physician Assistant Program

Per accreditation guidelines (ARC-PA), as with any medical postgraduate program, our Physician Assistant Program will continue to grade in their normal process. 

Graduate School (MACOM)

The Department of Communication will retain its normal grading procedures for graduate students as outlined in the Graduate Course Catalog; however, requests for accommodations should be directed to Dr. Kevin Pearce, Chair of the Department (

Graduate School (MBA/MPAC)

Many of our graduate students have experienced the same difficulties as our undergraduates as outlined above. However, some of our graduate students were disrupted in other ways as well, including loss of childcare or significant changes to their work schedules. Because of this, we expect that Faculty teaching graduate courses also evaluate students normally, using letter grades. As with undergraduates, we will provide an exception for a “pass-fail” option for students in need of such a remedy for justifiable reasons.  “Pass” grades will not count for the calculation of a student’s GPA but will still count toward degree completion and toward all other requirements based on GPA.

The implications for graduate students may be far-reaching and could include issues with employer reimbursement, certification exam eligibility, or eligibility for other graduate programs in the future. As with undergraduates, we advise that graduate students considering this option consult with their advisors, instructors and employers as appropriate well in advance of the deadline.

PMBA students, whose courses are typically online, may petition for the “pass/fail” option for the Spring term if they are able to demonstrate extraordinary difficulties stemming from the impact of COVID-19.

  • May Graduates of the MPAC Program: May exercise P/F option by Thursday, May 14, 12pm.
  • PMBA students: May exercise P/F option by Mon, May 25, 8am.
  • All other COB Graduate Students:  May exercise P/F option by Wed. May 20, 8am.

Please continue to study hard as we head into the last two weeks of class for the semester.  Again, know how much I appreciate all your efforts, support, and resilience. 

Go Books.  Go Bulldogs.

Provost Sulmasy

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