Year-Round Operation

Develop, promote, and support a flexible operational calendar to optimize time, place, and resources, particularly for academic programs and student support units that generally are underutilized during the summer.

Rationale:

Innovative, flexible models of operation are needed to meet and exceed the diverse needs of our undergraduate and graduate students in the most efficient, cost-conscious manner. The opportunity for year-round operation by interested academic units could create a greater diversity in the timing and content of courses; increase the flexibility of students to study abroad, increase students’ ability to obtain internships and co-ops year-round; better meet the needs of non-traditional students; enable undergraduates to graduate in less than four years, if desired; and, relieve certain challenges related to physical space limitations, in particular in the STEM-H fields. By increasing flexibility to offer courses across the year, yet maintaining the typical nine-month contract, a year-round operation would allow faculty to design their course schedules, as well as enable departments to design their curricular delivery to maximize faculty flexibility in research time outside of the traditional summer period.  A year-round operation could facilitate more timely decisions by enabling the governance processes to continue uninterrupted through the summer, and allow additional schedule flexibility for students to engage in global experiences.

Benefits:

    • Undergraduate students able to double major, add minors without extending the years needed to complete those degrees.
    • Students able to more broadly participate in internships, co-op jobs and other off-campus opportunities year round.
    • Opportunities for study abroad and international experiences for undergraduate and graduate students improved.
    • Greater frequency and diversity of course offerings for interested academic units.
    • Non-traditional undergraduate and graduate students will be better able to assimilate and achieve diverse objectives, (e.g. ‘non-traditional’ undergraduate students might finish in less than four years; ‘non-traditional’ graduate students may also have more flexible schedules.)
    • Enables the university to be more responsive to varying goals of the students, (e.g. this strategy might meet the needs of those who want to expedite graduation and those who want even more research/study abroad/co-op experiences outside of the summer months.)
    • ‘Potentially’ accommodate more students, if the faculty, staff, and facility resources can be increased to meet this demand.
    • Gives faculty more flexibility with their nine-month contract, (e.g. summer- fall assignment versus typical, fall-spring assignment.)
    • Greater utilization of physical facilities across the year; especially lab spaces needed for STEM-H fields.

Potential Obstacles:

    • Difficult to change curriculum for all majors; need to determine which changes would be most advantageous for select programs with an interest in trimester operation.
    • Tracking people and resources.
    • Rescheduling maintenance on facilities, coordinating smoothly with existing camps and orientation.  (Perhaps not a problem initially.)
    • Culture shift needed. (Faculty appointments would likely remain on nine-month cycles. Issues would arise around which two semesters to teach. Staggered but overlapping appointments would occur.)
    • The two summer sessions combined are not equal in length to spring or fall semester. (Currently, summer =12 weeks, traditional semester =16 weeks. New, 14.6 weeks per semester. )
    • Because of U.S. cultural history, many college students work over summer break.  Stimulating summer enrollment could be difficult initially.
    • What would be the financial model?
    • Extending the academic year with no corresponding extension or expansion of financial aid (both federal and institutional) will require students to increase borrowing, or more creatively allocate current borrowing, to support year-round attendance.
    • Can institutional financial aid be administered on a flexible schedule, not to exceed eight trimesters in total for undergraduate study?
    • Exact mode of implementation should be explored; may range from a true trimester where each trimester is about 14 weeks with financial operation similar to fall and spring, to the transition of summer session to a self-funded enterprise with alternative tuition and fee rates and resource allocation methods.
    • How many graduation dates would we need? One for each trimester, or just one per year?
    • Increased financial support for faculty if the net result is to increase our classroom offerings as opposed to simply distributing them in a different way.

Unresolved Issues:

Commentary:  Please note that our committee is attempting to focus on this issue of year-round operations as a possible approach to our academic curriculum delivery, not simply a fix to problems with the current summer school model.  Without a doubt, there would need to be an infusion and rearrangement of existing resources to truly implement year-round operation without sacrificing the quality and diversity of our curricular offerings in Fall and Spring.

  • Financial model for summer operations and enrollment that would not impact resources available for fall and spring operations.
  • What would be the optimal goal for summer enrollment, how would this change over six years?
  • The need to schedule space maintenance and renewal in a year-round operational mode.

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