NIU officials laud summer schedule

By Peter Schuh

Administrative higher-ups said they agreed with changes to be implemented during NIU’s upcoming summer semester, which will lengthen the summer session to eight weeks and will include a course line-up which addresses student demand.

The decision to return to an eight-week semester came after faculty expressed complaints with last year’s six-and-a-half week session, which was a response to cuts in the state budget.

David Graf, associate dean of the College of Business, said he was pleased to see NIU return to an eight-week summer session.

“I think it’s very difficult, for students and faculty alike, to cram everything into a six-and-a-half week period,” he said. “That might work for some classes, but not for most.”

Joseph Grush, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, agreed with Graf’s opinion.

“Clearly, in almost all of the disciplines in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences the eight weeks is preferred,” he said. “Nearly all of our faculty said, ‘if you do anything, go back to the eight week session.'”

“When, each day, you’re packing in big chunks of information, there is no time for that information to be consolidated,” Grush said, because of the longer class periods used during summer “those last fifteen minutes of class time per day (necessary for the switch from eight to six-and-a-half weeks) tended to be wasted.”

Grush also expressed a cautious optimism toward the “bidding process” used by NIU administration to determine which courses would be offered for the summer session.

“I think it will serve the students a little bit better,” he said. “Right now, based on the best available data, we are offering the best amount of courses to fit the best student demand. We won’t know for certain until the students show up.”

For the summer session, NIU administration handed half the funds out to colleges to be split up among departments. The “bidding process” involved the other half of the summer funds.

Departments made funding requests for specific classes and money was handed out by the Provost’s Office to target general education courses and those high demand courses many students need to graduate.

“The process was more looking at it (the summer session) on a circular perspective, a department perspective and a student perspective,” Grush said. “It was really a fine-tuning of the system and not a new system.”

LA&S Dean James Norris said, “I agree with the process. What the provost is trying to do is prioritize courses for those students in the greatest need. When any provost does that I’m going to agree with him.”

In regard to the College of Business, Graf said, “It helped us consider our offerings more carefully.

“It would be nice to have an unlimited amount of money to do what we wanted to do, but it (the bidding process) forced us to look at those courses we needed. We did have a lower budget by 30 or 40 thousand dollars,” Graf added, although the smaller budget cut “seven or eight classes,” the College of Business was “still able to come up with a course list that fit our need.”

Charles Stegman, dean of the College of Education, said the purpose of the bidding process is in line with the process his college has used to determine summer courses in the past.

“The College of Education has always tried to schedule its summer courses to meet the needs of the students,” he said. As a result of the Provost’s bidding process “our on-campus money went down but our off-campus allocation went up.

“The College of Education has a large program on- and off-campus, so I was not surprised that our off-campus allocation went up. We have a very high demand for summer courses given our clientele.”

In regard to funding shifts in LA&S, Grush said, “I would estimate there was a funding shift (between LA&S departments) on the order of 10 to 15 percent. That’s significant in terms of serving more students.”

Grush said the departments of English, sociology and psychology were included among those LA&S departments to receive more funding.

“All three of those departments were areas where money has been moved because those (departments) all had situations where they were unable to meet student demand,” he said.