Pitt to allow students to move courses to pass/fail status at semester’s end


Screenshot via change.org

A petition urging the Pitt administration to modify the pass/fail grading policy for the spring semester in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has gathered thousands of signatures since its creation two days ago.

By Jon Moss, News Editor

Pitt will allow students to convert any course from a letter grade basis to a satisfactory/no credit basis at the conclusion of the semester, Provost Ann Cudd said in a Friday email to faculty. All courses that are awarded S grades will count toward graduation/degree requirements and satisfy future course prerequisites, while those courses awarded NC grades will not negatively impact a student’s GPA.

“To help mitigate student stress and facilitate academic success in the coming weeks, the University is adopting a significant level of flexibility in course grading for this semester,” Cudd said.

The change comes after thousands of Pitt community members signed a petition urging the Pitt administration to modify the pass/fail grading policy for the spring semester in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. The petition was inspired by a successful effort at Carnegie Mellon University and other universities.

Students have said the change is warranted due to the pandemic’s unprecedented circumstances and the switch to online distance learning beginning Monday, and making this policy change would reduce the stress and worry that students may feel about their grades for this semester.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox three times a week.

When asked about the petition at a Senate Council meeting Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said the petition was not a major factor in the University administration’s decision on this matter.

“Of all the types of input we’re getting in handling this crisis, at the present time, the number of signatories on a petition is not very high on the list,” Gallagher said. “I think it’s enough for the [Student Government Board] members to share ideas and concerns with us, but there’s not a lot of additional weight.”

Cudd added at the meeting that “petitions are not really on our radar.”