Plus/minus could face delay

Ashlee Clark

Plus/minus systems are used at institutions such as Ball State University and Centre College.

But Western’s plus/minus system needs some clarification before it can be studied on the Hill.

Provost Barbara Burch said she needs more details about the plus/minus pilot program that was approved by the University Senate in March before she will allow it to begin in fall 2004.

“I’m not opposed to a pilot study, but have yet to find how this pilot study will be implemented,” Burch said.

University Senate members found out about Burch’s delay in approving the program on Thursday through a memo Burch sent to the senate meeting.

Burch said yesterday that she needs more information about who will be involved in the program and how it will be assessed.

Burch was in Frankfort on Thursday and could not attend the senate meeting.

The approved plus/minus grading system would add pluses and minuses, from A-pluses to C-minuses. The marks would be placed on transcripts but would not affect grade point averages or quality points.

The grading system proposal was made by the ad hoc committee on academic quality at March’s senate meeting.

Faculty Regent Robert Dietle said he plans on speaking with Burch about the issue and asking why she didn’t bring up her need for clarification at the March meeting.

“My main message is that curricular matters be under the control of faculty,” he said.

Burch said prior meetings consisted of intense discussions about whether or not plus/minus should be implemented.

Burch said she will meet with Dietle and Senate Chair Doug Smith tomorrow to discuss the plus/minus pilot program.

Student senator Dana Lockhart said after the meeting that he agrees there were “serious implementation issues” with the plus/minus system.

“I think that the provost is taking the right course of action by taking time to look into the issue herself,” he said.

Brian Strow, an economics professor and senate member, said he thinks the academic quality committee worked through all of the implementation issues with the registrar’s office.

“Hopefully, it’s just minor stuff,” he said after the meeting.

Strow served on the academic quality committee and made the initial proposal in favor of a plus/minus grading system last semester.

The plus/minus grading system was to be implemented next semester.

According to the proposal to recommend utilization of plus/minus grading system, data would be collected for two years to determine “the grading system’s impact on the university, faculty and students.”

Herald reporter Shawntaye Hopkins contributed to this story.

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