Winter session could get squeezed at post-YRO CSUN

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CSUN’s winter session, held between fall and spring term, could be reduced in length, according to university officials, who said they are waiting to see how the school’s transition to Year-Round Operations finishes up in Summer 2006.

“This is only my assumption, and I’m not speaking for anyone in the College of Extended Learning (which administers winter session), but I think that future winter sessions may be shortened,” said Jerry Luedders, assistant provost at CSUN.

The length of the 2007 winter session, however, will have room for a normal winter session, he said.

“But the thing is, we plan these calendars ahead by a semester or two,” Luedders said. “When we were making the schedule for fall 2006 to spring 2007, we weren’t able to take into consideration the Year-Round Operations. We had already submitted the calendar for approval in May 2005.” The Spring 2007 semester will begin Jan. 29, 2007.

“As far as I know, there has been no decision yet about winter session for January 2007,” said Penelope Jennings, associate vice president for Faculty Affairs.

Other university officials discussed more of a “wait-and-see” approach to determining when and if winter session will change in length.

“Right now, winter sessions may be shortened. But it would be way out there in the future – not the near future,” said Harold Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “We really want to see how Year-Round Operations goes for the next couple of years and wait for things to shake out.”

He said it is difficult to determine how many students will enroll for summer sessions after YRO is fully implemented. The highest summer turnout CSUN had was 40 percent of a regular term, and that was during the late 1980s.

With fall and spring remaining at their current lengths and a bulked up summer term, a reduced winter term could give some employees an opportunity to take their vacation time, as well as address the academic implications of a term as short as winter session.

“I really have mixed feelings about YRO,” Hellenbrand said. “If it works for the students, and it helps them graduate two years sooner, then I’m all for it. But really, it was much cheaper when it was under (the College of Extended Learning) compared to if it’s run through a general term. The costs are higher, and that could be a problem,” he said.

The university’s long transition to full YRO will end in 2006, when a full, third academic term will be created, and administered through regular university, not Extended Learning.

The move to YRO was sparked by the CSU, state lawmakers and officials, all with interest in making better and more frequent use of university facilities and using the supersized summer term to move students toward graduation that much faster.

The amount of money students will pay for upcoming winter sessions is still unknown, according to Marcella Tyler, Extended Learning spokesperson.

“As far as I know for now, the winter session for January 2006 will be like any other winter session – from fees, to the amount of weeks that we’ll be having winter classes,” Tyler said.

While the upcoming winter session will be like past winter sessions, the number of classes being offered dropped 13 percent the last year, according to a annual report provided by Michael Weaver, director of academic support and finance in the College of Extended Learning.

In January 2005, only 67 courses were offered for students, compared with the 87 courses that were offered in January 2004, according to the report.

This also means that less students attended the last winter session as opposed to 2004’s winter session because of the decrease in the number of classes offered. Statistics for winter January 2005 show that 1,238 students registered for classes. In winter 2004, there were 1,852 students registered for winter classes, the highest number in the program’s history.

In 2002, there were 1,525 students that registered, with 71 courses offered. In 2003, 1,766 students registered and 85 courses were offered.

With a decrease in the number of students who attend winter sessions from last January and YRO expected to go into full effect in summer 2006, the College of Extended Learning will not suffer from a detrimental loss of revenue, according to officials.

“While students will be taking university courses through the university during summer sessions, the College of Extended Learning will still offer classes in the summer,” Luedders said. “But these classes will be general interest classes like wine tasting or how to start a business. But core classes for majors will be registered through the university like any other normal fall or spring semester.”

Mark Solleza can be reached at mark.solleza.950@csun.edu.