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Graduate School

Graduate Students: Memo from the Dean

April 2, 2020 | Dean Cheryl L. Addy

Since I last talked with you, you have completed almost two weeks of online instruction, as a student and as an instructor for many of you.  I hope the experience has gone well and that you and your family and friends have the resources and resilience to be safe, healthy, and productive in this time of global pandemic.  As you hear from many sources, continue to monitor for the most current information for the university community.  However, I want to update you directly on a few matters that have more direct impact on graduate students.

  1.  Commencement has been tentatively rescheduled for August 7-8, 2020, if large gatherings are considered safe at that time.  Depending on the progression of the pandemic, it could be further delayed.  The various commencement ceremonies will include both May and August graduates.  Because of the time required to prepare the commencement programs, there may be adjustments to the summer thesis/dissertation deadlines.  We will alert you as soon as this is determined. For adjusted spring 2020 thesis/dissertation deadlines, please refer here.
  2. As you probably already know, on April 1, Faculty Senate approved a proposal to allow optional pass/fail grading for undergraduates for the Spring 2020 semester, to minimize any potential academic penalty for the disruptions impacting this semester.  Graduate Council has approved a similar proposal, using the same grading scale of S+ for an earned grade of C or better, S for D/D+ and U for F, with each student choosing the option after the letter grade is assigned.  In general, courses with the S+ grade will be allowed on a graduate program of study, although this does not waive any progression requirements for a grade of B or better.  We will post more detailed information as the implementation proceeds.

  3. We recognize that graduate education can be stressful in the best of times, so the added pressure of this pandemic and its immediate impact on your families and academic progress may be causing you additional worry and anxiety.  Please do what you can to take care of yourself physically and mentally.  While our physical campus is essentially closed, Student Health Services offers numerous online resources and is providing some virtual services, in addition to online activities such as yoga and meditation classes.  If needed, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources.

  4. The university has started a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for students and families.  If you are in a personal financial crisis because of COVID-19, consider applying for assistance.  Information is on the university’s coronavirus website (right side, below question submission).

  5. Last but not least, we have not forgotten that April 6-10 is Graduate Student Appreciation Week.  I speak for the Graduate School and for graduate faculty across UofSC Columbia when I say that we are thankful that you chose the University of South Carolina for your graduate studies.  We are thankful for your commitment, enthusiasm, creativity and contributions to this great institution.  While our activities next week are limited by our circumstances, I would like to duplicate Monday’s planned reception with a virtual chat.  The Graduate School leadership will be available Monday, April 6, from 3:00-5:00 pm through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.  To access the virtual chat, click on

I look forward to seeing you next week.  In the meantime, please reach out to me or to others at the Graduate School if you have any questions or if we can do anything to help you.


Forever to Thee,


Cheryl L. Addy, PhD
Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
University of South Carolina

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