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Message from Dean Randolph to Undergraduate Students - Spring Quarter 2020 Information

Dear Weinberg College Undergraduate Students,

I write in hope that this message finds you well and somewhere secure as we prepare for the Spring Quarter. As I told you last week, we are working hard to develop a robust infrastructure for remote instruction. This includes looking at our policies for the coming term, which do require some adjustments. Our guiding principles have included maintaining our high academic standards and caring about the health of all members of the Weinberg College community.

I want to remind you to please refer frequently to the University’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates and to the College’s Coronavirus Information website for the most accurate and up-to-date information about policies and best practices.

My colleagues in the Weinberg College Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising will be communicating with you frequently as the quarter unfolds with information and advice. Today, as follow up to the Provost’s recent announcement concerning Spring Quarter Grading and Policy, I want to address the issues I understand from many of you are the most pressing. 

Pass/No Pass Grading

There are important differences between the policies governing the Pass/No Pass grade in Winter and those in Spring. Within a limited time frame, students have the option to retroactively turn Winter 2020 grades to Pass/No Pass. All Spring Quarter 2020 courses will be graded Pass/No Pass. Find details here.

At Northwestern and around the world, teachers and students are operating in a new and unusual context. This is unsettling, causing anxiety and stress for many students, faculty, and staff. The decision to move to Pass/No Pass grading for undergraduates in the Spring Quarter was taken by the Provost in consultation with Northwestern’s schools in order to account for the unprecedented challenges our community will face this Spring. No single policy can account for everyone’s needs or desires, but the hope is that this Spring Quarter policy will contribute to the well-being of many among us, especially those most vulnerable.

Please note: We cannot make individual exceptions to this quarter’s policy. And, we will still solicit mid-quarter advisory grades from instructors so that we identify students who may need help.

We know that students following the pre-health professional track have many questions about how Pass grades will be regarded in the application process. Many health professions programs are working on realistic admissions policies, given that so many universities have moved to some version of a Pass/No Pass grading system. Our Pre-Health Professions Office colleagues are following developments closely; please stay in touch with your Pre-Health adviser over the next few weeks.

Learning Remotely with Success

We have made significant strides over the last week to ensure a strong foundation for offering our classes remotely this Spring Quarter. Our IT colleagues have developed systems and support for students and instructors, and the College and University have offered the opportunity and resources to structure teaching and learning using Canvas and Zoom. Here are some things to keep in mind regarding remote learning:

Students are expected to engage with every component of their courses. We know that many of you are now living in time zones that make attending synchronous remote courses at a particular Central Time zone hour difficult or impossible. Instructors will do their best to design coursework to accommodate these issues. 

Students are expected to engage with key materials and content based on the schedule outlined in their syllabi. This means that if you are in a class that is meeting in real time and are following along via recordings of live sessions, you are responsible for keeping up with the class, just as you would be in a lecture class taught in person. 

We discourage enrollment in more than four courses for the majority of students in Spring Quarter. For many of you, remote coursework will be a new experience. Despite this, your instructors will expect an equivalent commitment of time to do the work as they would expect from you in an ordinary, in-person course. If you think you must take a fifth course for a particular reason, please consult with your College Adviser.

Please note: We ask you all to follow the guidance set out in the messages from the Provost regarding the Recording of Synchronous Remote Class Content.

Weinberg College Advising

Your College Adviser is available for virtual advising through Zoom and stands ready to help with your immediate issues and concerns, but also to help you stay focused on your long-term goals at Northwestern and beyond. Log into Inspire and follow these instructions to make a virtual appointment using Zoom.

Academic Integrity

Nothing about our commitment to our standards of academic integrity changes in the remote environment; together we must protect those standards, central to the mission of our University. We will continue to follow our processes in the event of a reported academic integrity violation, including the application of appropriate sanctions for violations. Please refresh your memory regarding our standards and policies regarding Academic Integrity.

These are very difficult times, yet I remain optimistic about our responses to the challenges we face. The coming weeks will test us all. I see, however, so much creativity and energy in our community, that I feel confident that we will find ways to work together toward a brighter day. 


Adrian Randolph

Dean of Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences
Henry Wade Rogers Professor of the Humanities
Northwestern University


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