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March 23, 2020

Dear Students,

Kahlil Gibran, author of the book, The Prophet, once said “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”  If ever there was a time our attitudes and perspectives matter, now is that time.

I feel and appreciate the stress and disappointment many of you are experiencing with so many unknowns and unexpected events occurring at such an important time in your lives. My job as your Chief Academic Officer is to ensure that you are provided the best quality educational experience possible. I am committed to making this happen as are your course instructors, who have been working diligently to transition course materials to a remote instructional format.

There have been many questions raised in higher education and on our own campus about the most appropriate ways to evaluate students’ classroom performance when there has been disruption midway through the semester. These are difficult and complex questions, and I am committed to creating a response that considers the implications for your future.

My number one priority is ensuring the integrity of the academic content faculty are delivering while balancing the impact of so much unexpected change for you as learners. Honoring my commitment to your academic experience means grading you fairly and appropriately in the context of what is occurring; it is my firm belief that maintaining our current grading structure is the best choice for you and for the institution. With this is mind, I hope you can understand the principles below that have guided my thinking:
For me, a better option is for the institution to think creatively and effectively about how we can ensure your learning success and fairly evaluate you during this period of remote instruction. With this goal in mind, we have instituted the following:
We are dedicated to developing mechanisms to accurately assess your knowledge and skills as well as supporting your success. I know you will bring your ‘can-do’ attitude to your experience, remembering the words of Gibran.

As I used remote instruction to teach my Autism class last Wednesday evening, I was so impressed with my students’ engagement in their learning as their peers made a presentation to the entire class, we commented on video clips using a chat box, and we discussed a case study. I have every confidence our students at UVM will rise to the challenge we are facing and your faculty will be right there beside you to support your success.

Sincerely,

Patricia A. Prelock
Provost and Senior Vice President