Date: April 2, 2020
To: Adjunct Faculty Members
From: NYU Provost Katherine Fleming

Dear Adjunct Faculty members,

I hope you are all well, but I know that some of you aren’t. I extend my sincere solidarity and concern to everyone.

The global and personal impacts of COVID-19 are immense and still mounting.  In this dramatic context, the entire NYU community is being asked to do what is needed to keep the university moving. More than 99% of our spring classes are still running. That’s entirely thanks to our faculty and your dedication to our students. I’m extremely grateful. I want to be sure you are all aware of changes to grading policy and course evaluation procedures for this semester:

Pass/Fail grades

To relieve some of the pressure that students may be facing as a result of COVID-19-related disruptions, we extended the deadline by which students may elect to take courses Pass/Fail (P/F) rather than for a letter grade. The new deadline is Reading Day, Tuesday, May 12, the day before Final Exam Period begins. We’ve also urged schools to be as flexible as possible in lifting restrictions on both the number and type of courses students may take P/F this semester. Each school will make its own decisions as to how P/F options apply; faculty members should follow protocols within their schools.  Finally, the Registrar will add a note on official NYU transcripts so that P/F grades taken this semester are not counted against students.

Student course evaluations

In light of COVID-19, teaching has had to adapt rapidly; faculty teaching performance for the spring semester of 2020 will be evaluated in this context. An ad hoc University-wide committee of faculty and administrators has been meeting since Fall 2019  to consider revisions to course evaluations in response to concerns raised by the Faculty Councils during AY 2018-19. That committee is making recommendations about best practices for student course evaluations; some of them may be piloted this spring. Consistent with an Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee advisory of 2014 (PDF) recommending that student course evaluations not be used as a primary means of evaluating teaching, Spring 2020 course evaluations will not be used in the formal assessment of faculty for reappointment or tenure or promotion.

I know that your personal lives also face great pressure right now. I’ve been speaking directly with as many faculty as time allows and am inspired by your professionalism and also kindness. I’ve also been deeply distressed to learn of the huge challenges and tragedies this crisis has brought to many of you. They put my own situation in perspective. We will need all of our continued strength and commitment to do the work that will keep the university going and that will keep us going.

Thank you for your support of our students and of one another in the midst of this unspeakable challenge.