TO: Chief Academic Officers, Chief Student Affairs Officers, Registrars and Admissions Personnel
FROM: Roger Barber
RE: The “Starting Date” for the Minimum Grade Policy
DATE: July 12, 2005
Earlier this summer, I sent most of you an e-mail message concerning the new minimum grade policy and some of the implementation issues concerning that policy. You will recall that:
- at the time the policy was adopted, in May 2005, the issue of “which students it should apply to” was presented to the Board. The Board decided that it should not affect students who are already currently part of the Montana University System.
- as a consequence, the Regents adopted the following implementation language: “The minimum grade policy will go into effect Fall Semester 2005, and will apply to all students who enter or are readmitted to the Montana University System or the three (3) community colleges that semester or subsequent semesters.” The assumption, obviously, was that the policy would apply to the cohort of students who: 1) were new to the Montana University System as of Fall Semester 2005, including new transfer students; or 2) had been out of the Montana University System for a time and were being readmitted under the campus policies governing that process.
- following the May Regents’ meeting, members of the Montana University System community contacted the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, asking what they should do with new transfer students who had already received an analysis of their previous coursework, based on the policies that were in place at that time but now have been changed because of the new System policy on minimum grades. The most common example, apparently, was a “D” grade in a class that had been accepted into the campus general education program. As you know, the new policy requires a “C- or better” for all general education programs.
After considering your feedback, I am proposing the following guidelines to assist you with this issue:
1) the Fall Semester 2005 implementation date should be honored.
2) that implementation date will have no impact on students who are new to the Montana University System and have never completed postsecondary coursework anywhere else.
3) that implementation date will also have no impact on students who are currently a part of the Montana University System and are transferring to a new campus in the System. Those students have always been excluded from the provisions of the policy because they are not “new to the Montana University System;” they are just new to the campus they are moving to.
4) because of the quasi-contract that has been created by the “analysis of coursework” documents already completed for some transfer students, those agreements should be honored and the students should be permitted to rely on that information. The minimum grade standards set out in the new policy should apply to all of their subsequent coursework in the Montana University System, however.
5) the minimum grade policy should apply to all transfer student who are: a) new to the Montana University System; and b) have not received an analysis of their coursework based on the rules that were in place prior to the adoption of the policy.
6) in determining which students are “readmitted students,” campuses should use their own internal rules and definitions to decide if the new minimum grade policy applies to a student.
I will include this issue, as an informational item, on the September Board of Regents’ meeting agenda. The Board may well decide to modify. . .or clarify. . .the implementation date, based on that discussion. In the interim, however, these guidelines should give you some assistance.