Academic Policy Changes
By Chris Dennis, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
The Undergraduate Studies Office and Banner Implementation Group have been working closely with the Faculty Senate’s Educational Programs and Policies Committee (EPPC), the Council of Deans, the Undergraduate Associate Deans (UAD) and the Advising Directors Council (ADC), students, and many others to revise several key academic policies affecting Temple undergraduates. These changes have been approved by the offices of the Provost and President. Accordingly, five new or revised policies will become effective in May 2011 or later. As a faculty member working with, advising or directing students, it will be important for you to know several of the key provisions and transitional details.
These policies have been shared with students through email, coverage in Temple Times, Temple News, Temple Today; postings on plasma screens across campus and on websites in the Provost’s portfolio and through a public service announcement on WHIP.
Highlight of Changes
Academic Standing. The current policy on academic standing, initiated in 2003 and revised in 2007, is being streamlined and simplified. The new policy will do away with the distinction between initial academic dismissal and “summary dismissal,” will eliminate “Conditional Status” for newly dismissed students, and will replace the deficiency point method of calculating dismissal with a chart that maps cumulative grade point averages (CGPA) to students’ earned credit totals. Since students must have a minimum CGPA of 2.0 to graduate, the thresholds for dismissal are more lenient in the first and second years, but become considerably stricter as students approach the minimum number of credits for their degrees. The new academic standing policy also works with the new repeat policy to stipulate that students may be dismissed if they cannot earn satisfactory grades in university required courses such as English 802, and Intellectual Heritage/Mosaic 851 and 852 in a maximum of three attempts. (Since some students, by virtue of their placement test scores, must begin in English 701 or math 701, those courses, too, will be included in this list.) Students dismissed under the new policy may not return for four years at which time they can apply for forgiveness under University’s academic forgiveness policy.
Repeating Courses. The current policy allows undergraduates to repeat courses an unlimited number of times, drops the lowest grade from CGPA calculations and factors third or more attempts into the CGPA. The new policy restricts the number of repeat attempts to a maximum of three. A student may repeat a course the first time as an “unrestricted repeat.” In order to repeat a second time (that is, attempt for a third time), he or she will need the permission of the dean of the school or college. No student will be allowed more repeat attempts, and if the student fails to receive the required satisfactory grade, he or she may be dismissed (if this is a specified, university required course such as English 802 or Mosaic I and II) or may have to change majors or degree programs, if the course is required for the school or major, only the highest grade earned will be calculated in the student’s CGPA.
Withdrawal from Courses. The current policy restricts the total number of withdrawals to five, does not allow students to withdraw from the same course twice and requires withdrawals to be recorded by academic advisors. The new policy removes those restrictions; however, every withdrawal will
count as a course attempt for purposes of the new repeat policy. Students may withdraw themselves from courses up until the ninth week. It will be especially important, therefore, for faculty to work with students at midterm to help them determine their prospects for success in the course. A decision to withdraw can have serious consequences with respect to financial aid eligibility and time to degree, so students should be seeking careful advice from faculty, advisors and financial aid representatives. Some populations, such as international students and student athletes, where withdrawals might generate serious visa or eligibility issues, will not be able to withdraw themselves, but must consult with an advisor. Excused medical withdrawals (WE) will not be counted in the repeat course calculations.
Leave of Absence. The university does not currently have an undergraduate Leave of Absence (LoA) policy. Effective August 2011, for fall 2011 and future semesters, students who know they will be stopping enrollment, are strongly encouraged to apply for LoA. If approved, the student may return to the same university, school/college and major (or minor or certificate) requirements as when he or she declared themself--and secures various other privileges, including Temple e-mail access, library access, and priority and self registration for the approved semester of return. By contrast, a student who leaves without any notice and without an approved LoA, must apply to be re-enrolled and, if allowed to return, must follow the most recent university curricular requirements in place for the semester of their return. This will allow departments, schools and colleges which have programs approved for curricular changes to project more accurately the number of students in the pipeline for curricular requirements that are being phased out. Faculty should encourage students who indicate an intention to take time away from Temple to apply for a leave of absence.
Academic Forgiveness. The current academic standing policy allows a restart for students dismissed after fall 2003 who have been away from the university for five years. Students who were never dismissed or who were dismissed before 2003 are not currently eligible. The new policy allows for students who are approved for reenrollment and who have been away for four years (eight consecutive fall or spring semesters) to apply for forgiveness. (All courses continue to appear on the academic record, but the student’s CGPA and credits will be reset.) So a student who attended, say in the late 1990s, and was youthfully inattentive to their studies can return for a fresh academic start.
In order to create a student-friendly transition from the current set of policies to the new ones, several provisions are being phased in. For the summer session 2011 and subsequent terms, for example, a student who repeats a course will have only the highest grade counted in his or her CGPA. The restrictions on course repeats, however, will only take effect in spring 2012 registration for summer and fall 2012 courses. This effectively means that a student with course repeat issues must achieve the needed grade(s) no later than the end of spring 2012. Thereafter, the repeat restrictions apply.
Moreover, because conditional status will no longer be available, students who are dismissed this semester as a result of spring 2011 grades will have a one-time opportunity for an extended academic probation for summer and fall 2011 courses to restore their CGPA. Their academic standing will next be evaluated in December 2011 using the new academic standing rules. Students currently on conditional status who have not exhausted their credit or time-limit eligibility will also be transitioned to “extended probation.” By contrast, those students on conditional status who will have no further eligibility after spring 2011 grades—or dismissed students who never elected conditional status—will be dismissed and may return if they have been away for four years.
The new and revised academic policies should function in a clearer way to underscore the academic values of the university and to give students, faculty and advisors alike a set of tools to address academic problems, reinforce academic success, promote time to degree, speed curricular transitions in programs offering new courses and requirements and otherwise support undergraduate students in their academic work.