March 26, 2020
Dear Colorado Law Students and Faculty,
I’m writing to follow up on the message you just received from CU Boulder Provost Russell Moore announcing changes to grading this semester. I want to reinforce that the law school is adopting an alternative grading system for this semester that is similar in spirit to but distinct from the optional Pass/Fail grading system that will apply to other units on campus. As you know, in recent days the law school administration sought faculty and student input on moving to an alternative grading system for this semester given the current circumstances. Thanks to all those who gave input during this process. After considering your input, we proposed, and the Provost approved, the following grading system for the law school for this semester:
All Law courses will be graded on a Credit/No-Credit (CR/NC) basis in spring 2020. A CR grade is equivalent to a Pass in Law’s normal grading system. The NC grade is to be assigned to those students not performing sufficiently, in the judgment of the instructor, to receive credit for the course.
Unlike the Pass/Fail grading announced for other campus units, Credit/No-Credit grading is mandatory, not optional, for all law school courses. It is important to note that an NC does not affect GPA. On the other hand, a student receiving an NC will not get credit for the course counting toward graduation. Additionally, any student receiving an NC for a required course will have to retake that course.
We recognize that this solution is not optimal for all, but in our view it is both compassionate and fair, given the current circumstances. I note that this solution is in line with the preferences expressed by the vast majority of students in the survey we took, and it serves many of the concerns expressed by members of the faculty. For those students who have been working diligently to improve your GPA this semester, please be assured that your professors notice excellence and individual efforts at improvement, and they are encouraged to provide letters of reference reflecting strong performance and marked improvement where deserved. It may further reassure students to know that many, if not most, law schools across the country are moving to alternative grading systems for this semester, and employers will no doubt be aware of that.
I know that students may still have questions about any changes in the administration of exams this semester. We have received faculty input on this issue as well and have developed guidance for the faculty. Faculty members are urged to communicate any changes in final exam administration in the coming days.
In the meanwhile, I hope the change to our grading system for this semester will allow students to put the issue of grades aside. I encourage students to engage, to the fullest extent you can, in your classes and with the material you are learning for learning’s sake. What you learn now will certainly make a difference later.
I know this is a difficult time for us all. I was moved by many of the comments that reached me through the student survey, emails, and faculty discussion, comments that reflected a wide array of difficulties as well as resiliency. It is that resiliency that will get us through this. I am very proud of all of you.
S. James Anaya
Dean and University Distinguished Professor