The university has extended online learning through the end of the spring semester of 2020 and has postponed Commencement ceremonies to Aug. 7-8.
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, said in a campus-wide email sent out around 5 p.m. on Friday, “While this is a difficult decision, especially for our graduates and their families, we know this is the right move for the ACU community.”
Schubert said the university felt it was unnecessary to hold off on making the decision.
“Looking at the landscape when the governor came out and issued [the] mandate, we are always trying to evaluate what the trends are and which way the wind is blowing,” Schubert said. “This was sending a pretty strong signal, as well as some of the messages from the president and federal officials that this was a landscape that was going to continue to deteriorate and that the state, local and federal governments were going to increase steps to try to counteract the trends.”
Schubert said the university was also receiving many questions from students and families needing to know if the semester would be proceeding online or in-person after April 13 and if the commencement ceremony would continue or be postponed, in order to make decisions about international travel, etc.
The Tower of Light and Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building will be lit with purple lights until students return to campus.
Emerald Cassidy, director of media and public relations, said in a press release there are no known COVID-19 cases on campus.
“ACU has shifted to a virtual learning environment, along with most other colleges and universities in the nation,” Cassidy said.
With the unexpected transition for students to online-only courses, graduate and undergraduate students previously enrolled on-campus will be given additional options for course grading for the semester. Students will now be able to choose to shift any or all of their spring courses to credit or non-credit, after faculty has reported and submitted the final letter grades students earn in their courses.
“Yes, we have had to think in new ways, but adjusting to this new normal has been easier than we imagined due to the creativity, dedication and tireless energy of those around the table,” Schubert said. “Our hearts were warmed when we learned some of our students put notes on doors in their neighborhood, volunteering to get groceries, run errands or do anything at all to help their neighbors. Others are helping the elderly who are afraid to leave their homes. People everywhere are asking what they can do for someone else. This is the ACU spirit in action, and it always makes us smile.”
Students who successfully complete their spring 2020 courses and receive their necessary credits to graduate will have their degrees granted on their official transcript in May, after final grades have been posted. Students who complete their degree requirements in the summer session of 2020 will have their degrees conferred after grades have been posted for those courses. Students will be reminded of the process available to them through an announcement before the end of the semester.
The option to choose credit or no credit is similar to a pass or fail structure, but without the GPA penalty of an F. Neither the grades counted as credit, for an A, B, C or D letter grade, or no credit, for an F letter grade, will count towards the student’s GPA. Students who receive no credit in a required course must repeat the course to complete their necessary degree requirements.
Students are asked to consider several factors in making decisions about the grading options available for their spring semester courses.
- CR/NC may be used for all undergraduate and graduate courses, not specifically electives.
- Courses graded CR/NC will not count toward a student’s limit of 12 hours.
- A grade of CR will satisfy any subsequent course prerequisite of “C or above.”
- Students who are repeating a course in which they previously earned a letter grade are still offered the CR/NC option.
- Choosing CR/NC might affect whether another university would accept the course for future transfer.
- Students who are working toward licensure and/or planning to attend graduate or professional school should confer with a faculty mentor and advisor before shifting a required course from a letter grade to CR/NC.
“I have great confidence in our faculty, as well as our students, to be able to navigate this new landscape affectively together,” Schubert said. “But I think anytime you do something on a scale this big that is new, you always have certain unanticipated outcomes.”
Schubert said he hopes this will provide students with some flexibility and reduce any anxiety for students and faculty navigating the possibilities of this new landscape.
ACU will resume on campus face-to-face instruction when the risks of contagion of the coronavirus decrease within the U.S. providing a safer environment. The date of resumption is still uncertain. Classes will continue in an online-only format through the Summer 1, or Maymester, session of May 11- 28.
All spiritual formation credits required for current students during the semester of spring 2020 have been considered satisfied.