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Students at Missouri Western and throughout the country are left with questions about their futures as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This final Chat with Matt of the spring semester addresses your questions about the new grading tree, financial implications on the university and flexibility for incoming students impacted by COVID-19. 

If I do the culminating experience and can’t get my grade up, can I change my mind and take the CR option?

According to Wilson, students who choose to continue with a class will still have time to opt for credit on a pass-fail basis if they do not believe they can achieve a sufficient grade.

“That’s why we’re doing the flexible approach,” Wilson said. “Somebody could take this all the way into the middle of April and go, ‘You know, this is going really well. I’m definitely going to go for the letter grade and go all the way,’ or, ‘This isn’t working out as I had hoped.’”

Students who choose to take the credit option must do so through Goldlink on or before Friday, April 24. This is also the deadline to opt for the grade of incomplete or withdraw from a course. The withdrawal option is available through Goldlink and a refund will not be issued for the course. Students must contact faculty through email or Canvas to request an incomplete grade and make arrangements to complete coursework at a later date.

How is the university going to handle this financially?

Wilson said that while the situation changes daily and it is unclear what financial impacts will occur, the university will save some money as a result of changes to operations. He said that all student and faculty travel has halted and buildings that are no longer being used to house students will save on utility costs. 

In addition to these changes, Wilson said that future semesters could see an increase in enrollment with individuals seeking job security in the event of a future crisis.

“I anticipate, based on the kind of the closures that we are seeing with businesses, that unemployment is going to just skyrocket,” Wilson said. “One of the things that you often see is people realize, ‘You know, I really ought to get to school. I’ve gotta put myself in a job that is going to be a little more insulated from something like this.’”

As originally reported by Bailey Ketcham for News-Press NOW, the Missouri Western Board of Governors approved a declaration of financial distress for the university on Thursday, March 5. Wilson recommended this declaration after convening a financial advisory council in order to address an existing $2.4 million gap in the budget prior to pandemic impacts. 

In an email to students sent at 9:22 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, Wilson announced a new review of academic programs. He said that most students should not be impacted by any changes made.

“We have appointed an Academic Review Board to review academic programs on a variety of criteria and ultimately make recommendations on restructuring programs so they are more efficient, responsive and effective,” Wilson wrote. “This is part of a multi-pronged strategy to strengthen our core programs, focus our approaches, stabilize the university’s long-term financial health and strengthen the University.”

It is unclear what impact current changes in operation due to COVID-19 will have on the review process.

Is there any flexibility for incoming freshmen regarding final semester grades or standardized tests?

As of March 19, Wilson said that Missouri Western had already received roughly 5,000 applications from incoming students and was making admittance determinations based on the information students had already submitted.

“We’re not necessarily worried about the GPA,” Wilson said. “Most people have applied. If somebody hasn’t and they’ve got ‘credit’ on their transcripts, of course we’re going to be very understanding for those individuals.”

According to Wilson, he is currently working on a fair way to address students who had planned to take a spring standardized test.

“We haven’t decided anything either, but many universities around the country have already decided to waive the ACT and SAT requirement,” Wilson said. “We’ve been talking about potentially waiving that on the admissions side, and then you’re relying on your placement exams more.”

Wilson said he had already been working on moving educational components like placement exams online from the beginning of his role at Missouri Western in order to save on costs by reducing paper use. Currently, no decisions have been made regarding distance placement exams.

While campus remains quiet for the foreseeable future, students can still submit their questions and concerns to Griffon News by sending a direct message to @Sarna_GN on Twitter, a message to The Griffon News on Facebook or emailing csarna@missouriwestern.edu. Students can also submit questions directly to Wilson’s office at missouriwestern.edu/wilson/feedback-form.

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