Passed: March 11, 2020
Sponsor: University Faculty Committee
Senate Discussions: May 2019, September 2019, November 2019, March 2020
Whereas at its May 2019 meeting the Senate approved the addition of this prose to the Faculty Handbook Section on Grade Changes:
In rare circumstances, a letter grade or incomplete can be changed to a “W” or expunged from a student’s transcript by action of the student’s college or by the Provost, for example, if so advised by Cornell Health, the Title IX Office, or by University Counsel. Regardless, the instructor of record must be informed by the registrar office making the change before the actual change is made.
Whereas it is vitally important to ensure the integrity of the grade-change process with clearly stated and effective protocols;
Be it resolved that the above Faculty Handbook passage be changed to
After a letter, incomplete, or S/U grade issued by an instructor of record to a student in a course has been posted to the student’s transcript, on rare occasions a college will have reason to consider removing the grade from the student’s transcript and replacing it with a course withdrawal (W) or expunging the student’s course enrollment altogether.
When such a transcript change is necessitated by circumstances involving Cornell Health, the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX, or the Office of University Counsel, the student’s privacy interest limits the information that college officials may share with the instructor. In such cases, the college associate dean for academic affairs (or equivalent position) will inform the instructor of the impending transcript change before it is made and explain to the instructor that the action was warranted due to a matter involving one of the three offices named above, and that university protocols, including appropriate consultation, were followed.
In cases not involving these three offices, where a retroactive transcript change is under consideration, the college associate dean for academic affairs (or equivalent) must inform the instructor of the reasons for making the change and obtain the instructor’s approval before making it.
This resolution sets forth the parameters and processes when a college seeks to retroactively issue a course withdrawal (W) or expunge a student’s course enrollment altogether. The resolution establishes that in all instances, the college associate dean for academic affairs (or equivalent position) must inform the instructor of record of the intended transcript change. The resolution also establishes that the college associate dean for academic affairs (or equivalent position) must obtain the instructor’s approval before making such a transcript change unless one of the exceptions delineated in the resolution is present: (1) the change is necessitated by circumstances involving Cornell Health, the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX, or the Office of University Counsel.
If you have comments to share you can post them below anonymously.
We are aiming to have a vote at the February Senate meeting.
The following examples point to situations where the instructor would not have the authority to block an expunge or a retroactive W:
- A student fails all their final exams in December and it is diagnosed in February with an ailment that would have justified a Fall semester medical leave.
- In matters involving the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX, the student may have been or is a complainant in a Cornell University Policy 6.4 matter and entitled to accommodations in the form of a retroactive W.
- In cases involving the Office of University Counsel, the student may have had or has a credible, supported legal claim of wrongdoing against the instructor of record, for example, that the instructor sexually harassed the student or failed to provide the student with a disability accommodation required by law.
The text was developed jointly by David Delchamps (Chair, Educational Policy Committee), Lisa Nishii (Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education), Carol Grumbach (Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education), and Mike Thompson (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies ) . There was full consultation with the EPC and the following Academic Policy Working Group assembled by Vice Provost Nishii:
- Rachel Bean , Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and Professor, College of Arts and Sciences (Chair)
- Gena Boling, Director of Compliance for Student Aid Programs
- George Boyer, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor, ILR School
- Jon Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment
- Diane Corbett, Director, Financial Aid
- Margaret Frey, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Professor, College of Human Ecology
- Carol Grumbach, Associate Vice Provost
- Melanie Holland Bell, Assistant Dean for Education, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
- Lisa Nishii, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (ex officio)
- Mike Thompson, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Associate Professor, College of Engineering
- Donald Viands, Associate Dean and Director of Academic Programs and Professor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Casey Washburn, Associate University Registrar, Academic Services