Board of trustees vote to have 120 unit limit for most degrees

Gabrielle Moreira

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CSU chancellor Timothy White listens to a representative of CSUEU during the open forum. Several union representatives welcomed White to his new post and started the year off with issues they wish to address. Photo credit: Ken Scarboro / Senior Photographer

The California State University board of trustees voted in favor of changing degree unit limits to 120 units to have students graduate within four years.
The change was first proposed to the board in their Sept. 18-19 2012 meetings by the Committee on Educational Policy. The committee consulted with the Academic Senate, made up of CSU faculty, to revise the proposal and exclude some majors from the 120 unit limit.Trustee Bernadette Cheyne was a lone vote against the unit limit and said the committee should reevaluate their proposal.“As Trustee Cheyne said, there is sand in the gears on this issue,” said Chancellor Timothy White. “Alone, that sand in the gears cannot be the reason why the trustees should not support this move. I encourage the trustees to support this motion.”White said his background in education helped him understand why the CSU system should implement the limit.

Before the board voted in support of the resolution, Cheyne added an amendment that would allow the chancellor to approve any majors that may need more than 120 units to complete.

“Chancellor White, you express that you would consult on any matter that came before you for change,” Cheyne said. “I trust that you will do so, but I also imagine, sometime in the distant future, we may have a different chancellor and therefore I propose the amendment.”

Christine Mallon, assistant vice chancellor, said that the unit limit may not be implemented until 2014. Mallon also said that most degree limits used to be 124 units in 1998 and were lowered to 120 in 2000 for faster graduation rates.

Mallon presented an average student workload of 15 units per semester to reach 120 units and complete a degree, but said the numbers vary because not all students attend a CSU for four years.

“Most of our students transfer in from community colleges,” Mallon said. “That makes it difficult to talk about four year degrees when only 40 percent of our students begin as freshmen and have a chance to spend all four years with us.”

The unit limit will not have an effect on students, especially those who need more units to obtain a credential or accreditation, according to Erik Fallis, media relations specialist for the CSU.

Mallon said the unit limit will help bring in more students to the CSU and that 5000 to 6000 potential new students who applied for higher unit majors had to be denied.
White agreed the unit limit would help new students get into the CSU, especially when enrollment has been high.

“Do our graduates compete well in the Cal State University system? I say yes they do,” White said. “Outcomes matter. Demand is at an all time high.”