After a couple months of study, debate and discussion, Utah Valley Community College's new president has decided a change from the existing quarter system to a semester system is in the college's best interest.
"We have now decided we would like to move forward with the semester system," President Kerry D. Romesburg told members of the college's Institutional Council, who supported a motion Thursday to present the change to the state Board of Regents.To reach his decision, Romesburg sought input from the Faculty Senate, Academic Forum, students, faculty, staff and community leaders. He said the regents will discuss the change later this month and take action on it during their November meeting.
UVCC would be the first of Utah's nine public colleges and universities to re-adopt a semester system. The state's educational institutions originally were on semester schedules, but changed to quarter systems during the 1940s.
Romesburg said he feels the change to a semester system would be worth one-time conversion costs. A semester system will eliminate one full cycle of admissions, registration, final examinations, financial aid processing, grade submission and recording.
"The semester system is more efficient in terms of space and faculty utilization, enrollment management and administrative expenses," he said.
Transfer of credit between UVCC and Brigham Young University, which is on a semester system, would be facilitated. In addition, UVCC students would be able to better compete for summer jobs with BYU students, who currently finish classes six weeks earlier in the spring.
Romesburg predicted the college would retain more students with a semester system because one "exit period" under the current quarter system would be eliminated.
Romesburg said he hopes increased retention under the semester system parallels the experience of Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colo., which switched from quarters to semesters in 1982. He said Arapahoe is similar in size to UVCC, but has a slightly larger vocational enrollment.
Arapahoe College's decrease in full-time student enrollment hovered around 19 percent between fall and spring terms from 1979 to 1982. But since adopting a semester schedule, that decrease has been between 2.8 percent and 6.6 percent, Romesburg said.
At UVCC, the decrease in students between fall and spring quarters has been between 19.8 percent and 25.6 percent the past four years. "I'm very encouraged by the experience at Arapahoe," he said.
The Faculty Senate supports the change, but not all faculty members or departments are happy with the proposal. "There are some members on the campus who would just as soon stay with the quarter system."
Romesburg believes a semester system also would give UVCC an increased opportunity to better fulfill its role as a community college and better meet the educational needs of Utah Valley. The change would be a challenge, but UVCC would be a model for other state institutions once the new system is in place.
"There is a lot of interest in seeing how we do and the effects of it (the new system)," Romesburg said.
At the conclusion of a pilot period, data will be gathered and circulated throughout the state. Romesburg said the that data should put to rest questions educators have about the wisdom of adopting a semester schedule at other state institutions.
He said UVCC officials still are trying to determine whether it would be possible to adopt the new schedule by next fall. Necessary administrative changes could be made by then, but more time may be needed for curriculum revision.