A Message from Dean Jonathan Lee Walton

From Dean Jonathan Lee Walton

March 19, 2020

Wake Div Cares!

This line is more than a social media campaign or hashtag. It is our core commitment, as we attempt to model what justice, compassion, and reconciliation look like during these trying times. We care about you and realize that you are experiencing heightened anxiety. Our lives have become increasingly complex and insecure.  We hear you!

The student body has brought two primary concerns to our attention in recent days: non-synchronous remote instruction and providing students the Pass/Fail option for Spring 2020 courses. The administration and faculty have consulted with others across the University  as well as our counterparts in theological education. We understand that our guiding principle during these trying times must be increased flexibility.

For those experienced in online education, non-synchronous instruction is considered a best practice for learners during otherwise normal circumstances. As students find themselves dealing with varying levels of technological access, childcare demands, and vacillating domestic circumstances, the need for flexible work options is heightened. We agree that it is unwise for professors to include any mandatory synchronous teaching sessions in our revised remote course instruction. Thus, our Academic Dean has instructed all faculty to provide students the ability to engage and complete course content at a time that best suits one’s schedule and circumstances.

In regards to taking courses Pass/Fail, the Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee met to discuss the implications of making an exception for the Spring 2020 semester. We attempted to anticipate possible unintended consequences that might negatively impact students, which included GPA concerns for those seeking further graduate work, financial aid disqualification, and academic standing. Fortunately, we exhausted the possibilities and concluded that a temporary exception would produce no negative consequences for our current students. We are confident that graduate and professional admission officers, as well as potential employers, will interpret Spring 2020 transcripts in light of this global pandemic.

Therefore, in order to provide as much flexibility as possible, Wake Divinity will offer all courses, both core and electives, as Pass/Fail for the Spring semester 2020. No course credit received during the Spring semester 2020 will count against a student’s otherwise allotted six elective Pass/Fail options.*

To be sure, we understand that there may be students who want to receive letter grades this semester. Pass/Fail is the default option, but not the only option. Students have until April 15, 2020, to request a final letter grade from their professors rather than Pass/Fail.

As a faculty and administration, we pray that these current curricular adjustments might allay the understandable fears and anxieties about our transition into remote instruction. More importantly, we pray that as a faculty, administration, and staff, we are living up to our mission and current motto.  Wake Div cares!