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Spring 2020: Semester Updates

The impacts of the new coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic on our campus and world have been unprecedented, requiring our continual adaptation, adjustment, and reassessment. Below are several important updates for Cornish students and their families regarding resultant changes to the Spring 2020 semester.

In addition to the information provided below, please explore the following resources:

Spring 2020 Resources for Students

 


Message from the President

The coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the most unforeseen disruptive phenomenon in American higher education. As an arts college, Cornish, within a matter of days, was required to shift from in-person education to remote teaching and learning in order to safeguard against this deadly virus. It is critically important that the College continues to maintain the same high-quality educational experience, while realizing that remote instruction is different. I am proud to acknowledge the dedication and work of the faculty and staff in making this happen.  

It is my hope that each and every Cornish student, as well as each member of the faculty and staff, will be able to successfully navigate the uncertainties of these days. We will continue to listen to your concerns and to respond to your needs as best we can. It is up to all of us, as a community, to continue to support one another. Cornish remains committed to providing an educational program of the highest quality, in an environment that nurtures creativity and intellectual curiosity.

Below are important updates for students and their families regarding changes to the Spring 2020 semester resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. If you have questions, please use the contact information provided in each section to seek support from the appropriate member of the Cornish staff.

Sincerely,

Raymond Tymas-Jones, President, Cornish College of the Arts


Universal Pass + Letter Grade Option

Cornish College of the Arts is instituting a revised grading policy for all students for Spring semester 2020 in order to address the complications caused by the pandemic. 

Update from Provost William Seigh (4/7/20) After we announced our move to a Universal Pass grading system for Spring 2020, a number of students asked if they can receive a letter grade this semester. While the Universal Pass system will remain in place for spring semester, we are adding an opt-in Letter Grade option for any students who want this option. You do not have to take any action to receive the P (pass) in your courses. Here is some important information about next steps for students selecting to receive a Letter Grade:

  • If you would like to opt in for the Letter Grade option, we are committed to assisting you.
  • The Registrar will send an email to all Cornish students by Friday, April 10th asking them to fill out a Google form if they want to receive a Letter Grade in place of the Universal Pass for any or all of their courses. This form is due no later than Friday, April 17th.
  • Students requesting a Letter Grade via the Google form will receive a confirmation email from the Registration and Records Office acknowledging the receipt of the request.
  • Student grades (Letter and/or P) for all courses will be posted by Friday, May 8th.
  • While we may not be able to address all of the obstacles facing each student at this time, Faculty, department Chairs, Student Success Coaches, and the Provost’s Office are here to support you.
  • Please contact us if we can help in any way.

Below, you will find an FAQ about the Universal Pass and the Letter Grade option. Please feel free to reach out with any questions (provost@cornish.edu).

Universal Pass: Original Message Sent to Students 

In response to a request from the Cornish Student Senate, the College is awarding all students a grade of “P” for each of their courses at the completion of the Spring 2020 semester. This universal pass system is aimed at reducing the stress related to letter grades and promoting academic consistency. Students will be awarded a grade of “P” for all courses. This means they will receive full credit and satisfy the particular degree requirement (major, College elective and general education requirements), but with no numerical value impacting their GPA.

Our commitment to our students’ arts education is unwavering. Faculty and departments will continue to closely assess and support students’ achievement of course learning outcomes this spring through summative and formative feedback. All students are encouraged to communicate with their faculty to discuss any challenges related to completing assignments at this time and under these circumstances.

Looking Ahead to Fall: Our Commitment to Our Students’ Arts Education

We care about our students’ academic progress and growth. While there may have been less time spent this spring on particular topics, Faculty and Chairs are planning for fall now. We are ensuring that fall instruction provides students with opportunities to build skills and knowledge for future learning and art making. More information about the 2020/21 academic year will be forthcoming this summer (with information for our graduating seniors as well). Opportunities may include reimagined productions, arts intensive workshops, and additional opportunities to showcase student work.

The College will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation as it applies to remote learning, which we will fully support and facilitate for the duration of this semester. We are continuing to assess and reassess student needs every day. Students facing challenges beyond their control should reach out to department Chairs, faculty, and the Office of Student Life.

Please contact your department Chair or the Office of the Provost with any other questions or concerns.

FAQ

What does a Universal Pass plus Letter Grade option mean for me?

Why did the College institute a Universal Pass system?

This Universal Pass system is aimed at reducing the stress related to Letter Grades and to promote academic consistency. Students will be awarded a grade of “P” for all courses. This means they will receive full credit and satisfy the particular degree requirement (major, College elective and general education requirements), but with no numerical value impacting their GPA.

Is this an opt-in Universal Pass system or will all courses be affected? 

This is not an opt-in Universal Pass.  Students will automatically receive a P for all courses. However, students can opt-in for a Letter Grade if they desire (see information below).  

Can I request a Letter Grade instead?

Yes, all students can request a Letter Grade for any of their courses. No grades of “D” or “F” will be awarded this semester given the Universal Pass system. See information below.

Do Letter Grades not matter? 

Letter grades are important. However, this universal pass system is aimed at reducing the stress related to Letter Grades and to promote academic consistency during an unprecedented national crisis. As President Raymond Tymas-Jones noted in his Wednesday, April 1st communication to students and parents “The coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the most unforeseen disruptive phenomenon in American higher education.” Students will be awarded a grade of “P” for all courses. However, students can opt-in for a Letter Grade if desired. See information below.

What does a Universal Pass mean for a graduate school application?

The Universal Pass at Cornish College of the Arts is a complete and inclusive Pass (P) that is applied to all Students at Cornish for the 2020 Spring Semester. Certainly College students across the country are experiencing a unique spring 2020 term and future employers and graduate schools will know this. When students submit their graduate school applications students can ask faculty to speak to this in their letters of recommendation. Most graduate schools will request materials in addition to transcripts noting an applicant’s level of preparedness for the program.

What will this do to my GPA?

A grade of “P” (Pass) will not impact a GPA as it is recorded with a value of zero and not calculated into the GPA. Students will receive full credit and satisfy the particular degree requirement (major, College elective and general education requirements), but with no numerical value impacting their GPA.

Students opting for Letter Grades will have their GPA calculated as usual. Each Letter Grade is assigned the appropriate numerical value (e.g. A is 4.0) and any P grades will be assigned a zero and not calculated in the GPA.

For the graduating students of 2020, how does a Universal Pass serve us? Will we receive our degrees?

Graduating seniors will receive their degrees at the completion of the semester and we are ready to celebrate this extraordinary achievement with you and your families. See the question below about 2020/21 opportunities for seniors.

If I take the P does my learning still matter?

Yes! Our commitment to our students’ arts education and your academic progress and growth is unwavering. Faculty and departments will continue to closely assess and support students’ achievement of course learning outcomes this spring through summative and formative feedback. Additionally, while there may have been less time spent this spring on particular topics, Faculty and Chairs are planning for fall 2020 now. We are ensuring that fall instruction provides students with opportunities to build skills and knowledge for future learning and art making. More information about the 2020/21 academic year will be forthcoming this summer (with information for our graduating seniors as well). Opportunities may include reimagined productions, arts intensive workshops, and additional opportunities to showcase student work.

Words of Wisdom from James Falzone, Music Department Chair, to students: ”I ask that you continue to commit to your studies. Show up. Remain engaged. Read. Listen. Do the work as best you can. Remember, music, in terms of learning, is an incremental art: each step leads to another, to another, and another. It is a life pursuit and this semester is still a step for you on that journey. It may be a light step, a faltering one, even, but it can still be a step.”

What will be the impact of Universal Pass on my academic probation status?

Students who are on academic probation will have their probation extended to next fall 2020 semester. They will continue to be supported by faculty, Chairs and Student Success Coaches as they continue to focus on their goals for academic success during fall 2020. However, some students may opt-in for Letter Grades and improve their GPA this semester. If this is the case, you will receive a letter from the College about your status and next steps.

How do I request a Letter Grade for a course or all of my courses?

The Registrar will send an email to all Cornish students by Friday, April 10th asking them to fill out a Google form if they want to receive a Letter Grade in place of the Universal Pass for any or all of their courses. This form is due no later than Friday, April 17th. Students requesting a Letter Grade via the Google form will receive a confirmation email from the Registration and Records Office acknowledging the receipt of the request. Student grades for all courses will be posted by Friday, May 8th.

 

If you have addition questions about the Universal Pass and the Letter Grade option, please feel free to reach out with any questions (provost@cornish.edu).


Housing and Meal Plan Credits

Cornish will provide housing and meal plan credits to students who were displaced from the Cornish Commons residence facility as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cornish Commons will continue to operate under social distancing restrictions. Many students were unable to leave the residence hall or have no other home, and so the College is committed to maintaining the costs of operating the entire building with full support staff and additional cleaning and safety measures. However, we recognize the financial impact on those who needed to move out to care for family or self-isolate in another location.

Therefore, in order to maintain the employment of the dedicated staff in housing and the Cafe, Cornish has decided to offer a credit towards housing and meal plan charges in the next academic year, beginning Fall 2020. The value of this credit will be equivalent to a prorated amount of Spring 2020 charges, based upon the time period in which students were displaced.

Move-out by March 20 (following Washington mandate to move to remote learning)

  • Eligible for 6-week prorated credit

Move-out by April 3 (following Washington mandate to “stay at home”)

  • Eligible for 4-week prorated credit

Move-out by April 17

  • Eligible for a 2-week prorated credit

Meal plan accounts on which the remaining balance is less than the prorated amount will receive their full remaining balance as a credit next fall. As always, $5,000 of any forfeited meal plan dollars goes to support Nellie’s Closet, which provides food and emergency items to students in need.

Graduating seniors displaced from the Cornish Commons will receive a refund.  Students who continue to reside in the Commons, but whose dietary needs are impacted by reduced options due to social distancing restrictions are eligible for immediate relief.

Please contact Student Accounts for more information, or with questions.


Requests for Tuition Refunds

While the College administration and the Board of Trustees acknowledge the concerns of students impacted by the lack of access to College facilities, resources, materials–and other assets important to their work–as a result of social distancing restrictions, Cornish is not in a position to provide tuition refunds for Spring 2020.

Echoing a national groundswell for colleges of the arts to refund students a portion of their tuition for the Spring semester, some Cornish students have requested refunds, citing restricted access to many resources of the college environment, such as studio space, materials, specialized equipment and tools, and libraries, as well as the exposure afforded by student exhibitions and performances, resulting from social distancing measures. 

While we understand and empathize with the challenges students are facing, tuition refunds will not be possible. During the coronavirus pandemic, the College has maintained its entire workforce of faculty and staff, even though our personnel are working from various locations throughout the region. Cornish remains operational, serving students who are no longer on campus as well as the students who remain in the Commons. Moving to remote learning has not decreased our operating budget; the costs of the current academic year have already been realized.

Cornish is a not-for-profit entity and tuition dollars are not sufficient to cover the College’s costs. Tuition funds 93% of our operating budget. The remaining 7% is generated through fundraising, including individual donations, grants, and corporate gifts. Unlike many colleges and universities, Cornish does not have an operating endowment that provides funds to offset portions of the operational costs. 

Though we are unable to offer tuition refunds, we are currently exploring every opportunity that might be available to us to provide some level of relief to students for impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the 2019-2020 academic year.

To learn more about relief resources that may be available to you, please submit a request for Emergency Funds.


Pickup of Personal Items

On Thursday, April 2, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced an extension of the order to “Stay at Home/Stay Healthy” until May 4.

We are currently evaluating methods to assist students in retrieving their items safely and in accordance with legislative orders and public health recommendations. While we are in this review, Pickup appointments will be placed on hold. Be assured we will continue to communicate any additional changes as soon as we can.

We recognize that many students will be leaving town and not returning until the Fall term or will be graduating and leaving the city. We ask that those students who have personal items in the school please email PickUp@cornish.edu with their department, year, and location/s of items. This information will help us evaluate how we can best facilitate access to students’ possessions in the future.

Thank you for your understanding.