COVID19 Update: UW-Green Bay faculty pass resolution to consider grading adjustments; University addresses student employee compensation

Faculty: ‘We’re doing everything within our power…to get them through these difficult times’

Green Bay, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay announced two efforts on Wednesday to provide additional student relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an unprecedented action, UW-Green Bay faculty passed a resolution unanimously supporting more equitable and accommodating academic grading for the remainder of this semester. In addition, the University announced a program to provide assistance to student employees whose on-campus positions have been affected by the pandemic.

The resolution is the first of its kind for the University and recognizes the unprecedented times and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Associate Professor Jon Shelton (Democracy and Justice Studies), a member of the University Committee, drafted the resolution based on suggestions from faculty across campus departments and disciplines.

“The faculty of UW-Green Bay are deeply concerned about our students, many of whom face serious challenges in shifting all instruction online under these urgent conditions,” Shelton said. “We don’t want to see any of our students’ aspirations get derailed, especially because of circumstances outside of their control. So, we passed this resolution to make sure they know we are going to do everything in our power to adjust our grading to get them through these difficult times.”

Steps might include weighting grades more heavily on projects completed in the first part of the semester; changing the “grading curve” in individual courses, or offering students a choice of final assignments that can better accommodate their current needs. (Editor’s note: Full resolution provided later in release).

UW-Green Bay Provost and Chancellor-Elect Michael Alexander said he was proud of the faculty for moving in this direction.

“This statement shows the compassion and the student-first model that UW-Green Bay is known for,” said Alexander. “It shows that as a University community, we are willing to support each other, and we believe educating future leaders in our society is essential to helping us all heal and thrive after the pandemic. We are persevering to make sure that happens. Our resilience will hold until brighter days and in-person learning opportunities return.”

The University also announced a Student Employee Income Continuation Program that provides a one-time COVID-19 leave payment to all student workers who were active as of Feb. 1, 2020. The payment will be $100 per week for two weeks. A total of $200 will be paid out to each of the University’s 738 student employees.

“As an institution, UW-Green Bay is doing all it can to advocate for and support students who are experiencing financial and class hardships. We want students to stay in their spring classes and are working as fast as possible to knock down the barriers they are encountering. If they have a need, we want to know about it and want to help,” said Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven.

The full UW-Green Bay University Committee resolution is as follows:

WHEREAS, the sudden nature of our University’s shift to online instruction and the lack of access to campus by many students means that there will certainly be deep inequities in our students’ learning outcomes over the duration of this semester;

WHEREAS, many of our students lack broadband access entirely or are attempting to complete a full course load of online instruction while they are sharing close quarters with family members;

WHEREAS, many of our students are also taking on additional childcare duties, caring for sick family members, or facing their own health problems;

WHEREAS, many students, whose social lives and economic livelihoods have been completely disrupted by this crisis, now face serious anxiety about their academic performance in their coursework;

WHEREAS there is no systematic way of knowing whether a student’s academic work this semester is due to their underlying performance or due to broader detrimental conditions out of their control;

WHEREAS we hold an important responsibility, as the faculty of the University during an unprecedented crisis of this nature, to mitigate these inequities while maintaining appropriate rewards for exemplary performance;

WHEREAS, mitigating these inequities is vital in ensuring students’ access to higher education is not detrimentally interrupted by this crisis;

BE IT RESOLVED that as a faculty, we will take the maximum steps allowed by our discretion to recognize the nature of the above circumstances by adjusting our grading standards—for this semester only—to be as accommodating to students as possible;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that whereas no faculty are required to do any of the following, some of the steps they might consider include (but are not limited to):

  • Establishing a minimum passing grade in a course that is higher than what is offered by their current grading scale
  • Curving upward all passing grades in a course by an entire letter grade
  • Offering students a choice of different concluding assignments and making sure that students have ample time in advance to work on a final assignment
  • Giving students the choice of more heavily weighting their performance from the first half of the semester when in-person instruction was available

About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is a comprehensive public institution offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs to more than 8,700 students with campus locations in Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc and Sheboygan. Established in 1965 on the border of Green Bay, the University and its campuses are centers of cultural enrichment, innovation and learning. The Green Bay campus is home to one of the Midwest’s most prolific performing arts centers, a nationally recognized 4,000-seat student recreation center, D-I athletics, an award-winning nine-hole golf course and a five-mile recreational trail and arboretum, which is free and open to the public. This four-campus University transforms lives and communities through student-focused teaching and research, innovative learning opportunities, powerful connections and a problem-solving approach to education. UW-Green Bay’s main campus is centrally located, close to both the Door County resort area and the dynamic economies of Northeast Wisconsin, the Fox Valley region and the I-43 corridor. UW-Green Bay offers in-demand programs in science, engineering and technology; business; health, education and social welfare; and arts, humanities and social sciences. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.

In the image, Associate Prof. Jon Shelton (left) and Faculty Senate Chair Mark Klemp (right) have a virtual discussion with Faculty Senate members before voting on the resolution.

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