Faculty weigh in on semesters

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The issue of whether North Central College should move to a semester format has arisen and been discussed several times in the past—but despite the discussions, the school has remained a three-term institution. That is until now. Faculty forums were held during fall term to give faculty the opportunity to voice their concerns.

Active debate, faculty forums, special committees and other actions have been occurring in earnest since the start of the academic year and a recent faculty vote has signaled the likelihood that the school will indeed move to a semester calendar.

There has been open dialogue about what the best course of action would be, according to Dr. Stephen Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and political science professor.

“It’s not uncommon; some of the concern comes from senior faculty because those are the folks that built this place. … they are very much open to new ideas, but they are also more invested in the system the way we have it than a faculty member who has come in in the past three or four years,” Caliendo said.

He adds that the senior faculty perspective is valuable because “they have the institutional memory.”

Caliendo additionally states: “I think folks who are supportive of this have spoken now and again; more or less they are feeling like they are excited and open to new direction.”

Chemistry professor Paul Brandt is in favor of the changing over to semesters, but has some concerns, one being the “in-the-seat” class time. Not a big fan of the 70-minute class time, Brandt would rather see something similar to four 50-minute classes. “I am not for where we are going now, which is four-credit classes,” Brandt said.

Caliendo said, “There are benefits to our system that we will lose if we shift. The question is, are those offset by benefits of a new system?”

Throughout fall term, the proposals shifted and grew more specific including a proposal for four-credit courses, or “high-impact courses” that allow for a higher-quality learning experience. What President Troy Hammond and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Abiodun Goke-Pariola argue is that the higher-impact classes will offset a potentially lower amount of courses without decreasing the value of the school’s various degrees or reducing the number of faculty. 

Any changes to the school’s academic calendar would be gradual and are not expected to be in effect until at least the fall of 2019.

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Bob Tomaszewski is the Forum Editor for the Chronicle/NCClinked.

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