ASU corrects email to deans reflecting coursework completion date

Faculty can still choose to extend deadlines for required coursework and final exams past last day of finals

Faculty can still extend deadlines of comprehensive final exams and other required coursework after finals week ends, a corrected memo to University deans said Monday. 

Just three weeks before classes are set to end and seven instructional days before finals week starts for most, a memo sent Monday morning from Deborah Clarke, vice provost for academic personnel, said required course work should be completed by or on Dec. 4. But a corrected version sent only a few hours after the first said completion of coursework should be possible by Dec. 4, but deadline extension is still allowed. 

A University spokesperson said in an email the new memo for deans was sent to clarify the language of when faculty should administer exams. 

The memo to deans from Clarke and obtained by The State Press said "while it must be possible for students to complete all coursework, including final exams, by December 4, faculty may choose to extend deadlines."

Prior to both memos, faculty and students were under the impression based on previous communication that work could be turned in later as long as it was before Dec. 14 when grades are due. 

Professors can still extend deadlines past Dec. 4, so students with deadlines after that date should not experience any major changes. 

The corrected memo no longer includes a sentence about when extensions would be appropriate and instead stretches the opportunity to all faculty and students. No information was given in the initial memo as to what would constitute an appropriate circumstance for a deadline extension.

The University has repeatedly asked faculty and students to be flexible this semester. Both memos said faculty should work with a student who has numerous finals or deadlines on the same day and suggested faculty reach out to one another to arrange something that works.  

"Try to be flexible. Consider contacting the other faculty involved to negotiate a solution best for students," the memo said. 

The memos also encourage faculty to communicate plans for the end of the semester as soon as possible if they haven't already, including whether or not exams will be comprehensive. The memo also said faculty should provide ways for students to communicate schedule conflicts. 

READ MORE: Students are just trying to get by

In the middle of September, an email from Provost Mark Searle announced instruction after Thanksgiving break would take place remotely and finals week would be rescheduled to the week of Nov. 30 rather than the week of Dec. 7. 

A University spokesperson said in an email the semester was shortened and partially made remote "to help manage the complexities associated with COVID."

"This move allows students who choose to stay home and finish out the semester at home the week after Thanksgiving," the spokesperson said. "As has been consistent during the pandemic, we have worked to provide flexibility to students."

The ASU Community of Care Coalition, a group of ASU community members formed over the summer in opposition to the University's decision to resume in-person classes during a pandemic, tweeted about the first memo on Monday. 

"ASU is once again failing to foreground teaching excellence," a tweet said. "This is not clear messaging in support of good pedagogy."

In addition to finals week changes, fall break was canceled and students are more stressed than ever. A number of students reacted negatively after the Community of Care Coalition shared the basics of the first memo on Twitter

In a thread about the corrected memo, the coalition tweeted that faculty should respond to student responses and "acknowledge their stress, demonstrate care for them and extend the deadlines."

The memo also explains a possible decision to award students a Y grade, which "is at the discretion of the individual instructor and should consider the individual circumstances of the student."

A Y grade is typically issued to students who have successfully completed an internship, project, seminar or workshop. It is "a satisfactory grade for courses in which it is difficult to assign a grade," the memo said. 

Students in any course can request to receive a Y-grade, and it can be assigned only if the student would have earned a C or higher in the course. A request for the grade should be submitted before grades are complete and not as a response to a finalized grade. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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