In continuation of University of Wisconsin Interim Chancellor David Ward’s “Year of Innovation,” the university is looking to expand its summer educational programming.
According to UW Registrar Scott Owczarek, the university is beginning talks to expand the summer courses offered on campus as a part of an initiative promoting educational innovations.
Jeff Russell, Vice Provost for Lifelong Learning and Dean of Continuing Studies, said the idea to increase summer courses had a grassroots start, beginning with a proposal in response to a series of discussions about educational innovations.
Informal talks regarding the proposal have been going on for a year, Russell said, including a town hall meeting with the Associated Students of Madison.
The proposal, which is still in its first phase, aims to increase the number of summer courses offered and students enrolled in an effort to help students fulfill their degree requirements.
“It has been part of the Educational Innovations initiative; one of the things we proposed was to expand the courses, so that students can fulfill their degree requirements,” Owczarek said.
According to Russell, by identifying the high demand courses and increasing access, students will be given the opportunity to make progress in degree completion easier instead of having to complete courses at other colleges and universities when home for the summer.
However, Owczarek said the talks about expansion are in a discussion stage to evaluate what specific effects the changes will have on UW students.
“One of the hypotheses that we have to test is that if we offer the right amount of right courses, would that begin [to] decrease the time to degree,” Owczarek said. “I think if we would increase the enrollment, with increased number of students, it would reduce their time to get a degree.”
Owczarek also mentioned the impact a change like this could have on the university as a research institution, as many of the faculty research occurs over the summer.
Russell also said faculty research was one of the potential challenges when making this expansion, noting that the project depends on whether or not faculty is willing to participate. Faculty will likely have to make a trade-off with research, Russell said.
According to both Russell and Owczarek, the proposal is still in the research stage and results are not to be expected for some time.
“We are engaging around dialogue on this now,” Russell said. “This discussion in implementation is clearly a multi-year effort.”
Russell added there are no expectations to double course enrollment for next year or the courses themselves, both of which are long-term goals, as officials are still in discussion of what courses to even offer.
According to Russell, the main goal of this proposal is to incorporate the chancellor’s innovation initiative in the education offered.
“The key point is that the chancellor has articulated a passion in educational innovation and we are going to discuss this, moving forward, to help the students,” Russell said.
The first formal meeting regarding the summer course expansion will be held Friday, Oct. 5.