Last Saturday the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to support the faculty’s decision to change Augustana’s credit hour requirement. Students now only need 124 hours to graduate, beginning in the fall of 2014.
According to Susan Hasseler, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, the previous requirement of 130 hours is no longer the “standard of academic excellence” in our region. She said many public schools are mandated by their states to require 120 hours, and most private schools range from 124 – 128.
“I think all of us see this as a way to make sure people understand that Augustana is accessible,” Hasseler said.
Chair of the curriculum council Margaret Preston said the voting process went much faster than expected. Normally faculty requires a week’s notice to discuss an issue before voting. Instead they chose to forego that week and vote immediately, according to Preston.
“That was a bit of a surprise,” Preston said, since issues brought before the faculty normally require more discussion before a vote.
President Rob Oliver played a large role in both the faculty and board’s votes. Preston said he brought the idea seriously before the curriculum council and spoke at both meetings.
“Rob stood before them and made this very compelling argument, and I think the board really heard it,” Preston said.
The change leaves students, current and incoming, with the opportunity to take fewer classes. Since the administration felt there is not a particular department or class that is not taken full advantage of, Hasseler said nothing will be cut.
General education and major requirements will also remain the same. This means students may choose to take six fewer elective credits, or two courses. Divided out evenly, this equals 14-credit semesters and four J-term classes.
“What that allows for a few students is the possibility of having a bit lighter load in a semester when they need it,” Hasseler said.
Despite the change, Hasseler predicts few students will lessen their load, which results from charging by the semester rather than by credit hours, she said. Rather than taking easy semesters, they often fill their time with extra majors, minors and study abroad.
An e-mail will go out soon, Hasseler said, to inform students of the change and more thoroughly explain how it will affect them.