U-C Senate approves grade replacement revision

The Urbana-Champaign Senate passed a revision to a grade replacement policy that will allow students to replace grades by retaking courses at its Monday meeting held at the Levis Faculty Center. About 80 people attended the meeting.

Joe Finnerty, professor of finance, said he was against the change in the policy. He said with the current policy, if a student retakes a course, the new grade is averaged with the old one. Under the new policy, the new grade would replace the old one.

“This is not going to encourage academic excellence,” he said.

However, the revised version of the policy states that students cannot repeat a course for grade replacement if they committed an academic integrity violation in that course, such as cheating or plagiarizing.

Abbas Aminmansour, chair of educational policy and associate professor, said he does not think students will lose academic focus because of the revision.

“I really don’t believe this will be abused because it’s a policy that has so many restrictions,” he said. “It (the policy) benefits the students, who have legitimate reasons to replace the course.”

He said the policy change would aim to help students who have been absent for prolonged periods due to medical, family or other reasons.

Finnerty said the change in policy is unnecessary.

“It (the grade replacement) can already be done administratively,” he said.

Aminmansour added that while this is true, such issues need to go through the senate, rather than a single administrator.

“We do still need policies, so we can properly inform students of what their options are,” he said.

Finnerty said he was concerned about possible financial costs caused by the policy change if manual changes to transcripts need to be made.

“That probably will not be the case that there will be so many changes that it will have budget implications,” said Joyce Tolliver, chair of the Senate Executive Committee.

Members placed a voice vote, but it was inconclusive. A vote by raised hands followed, with 48 affirmative votes and 14 against.

Another revision to the senate’s statutes, which requires a faculty vote by secret ballot when there is a proposal to restructure a college or department, passed unanimously. The senate did not discuss the revision before the vote.

The revision entailed adding language to a section about changes in academic organization, clarifying that the information only pertained to that section of the statutes.

“It is one more obstacle to changes without faculty approval,” Tolliver said. “This is a good example of how shared governance (of faculty and administration) works on our campus.”