But after the donations of two professors, the program will continue through next year while organizers attempt to find permanent funding.
Carolina Students Taking Academic Responsibility through Teaching, known as C-START, offers undergraduate students the chance to invent, structure and teach their own course to fellow students.
Former Provost Dick Richardson allocated a $5,000 budget for the first two years of the program in 2000 but said students would have to find permanent funding in the future.
But recent administrative budget cuts presented a dreary future for the program, which is seeking about $4,000 for next year's course offerings.
In an e-mail written Thursday, C-START co-adviser Donna Lefebvre emphasized the need to find both short- and long-term funding beyond normal University channels. She included such ideas as seeking outside donors and proposing a $1 increase in student fees.
The e-mail also mentioned Student Body President Jen Daum's efforts to help the program. Daum, who took a C-START course last semester, met with Provost Robert Shelton on Friday to discuss the possibility of his office providing funding.
Shelton, who said he hadn't heard of C-START before being approached by Daum, said she was successful in conveying the value of the experience. Still, he said, he feels too separated from the situation to make an effective decision.
"The request needs to be reformulated through the proper channels to ensure there is a collective academic endorsement," Shelton said. "We don't want to just fund things ad hoc. Then we might as well do away with deans, department (chairmen) and all those people who are closer to knowing the facts."
Bob Adler, president-elect of the UNC Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, said he has pledged the stipend from his position to the future of the C-START program. The academy's Committee on Educational Outreach Chairwoman Jan Boxill also offered her stipend as a contribution.
But Jeremy Hurtz, one of the four students teaching a C-START course this semester, said he is disappointed by what he called the University's lack of institutional support.
Hurtz said his course, "The Postmodern Comic Book," has not only given him useful teaching experience but has allowed him to introduce an area of study that he said would otherwise be ignored.
He said the program also nurtures a dynamic between students and teachers that is difficult to accomplish in large lecture classes. "There is a certain balance that should be struck between students treating you as authority and treating you as an equal," Hurtz said. "C-START accomplishes this goal."
Hurtz, who spent most of his $300 course budget on photocopies, said the program offers great benefits at a more than reasonable cost.
"I can't imagine 10 to 15 contented students not being worth the small amount of money the University gave me," he said. "Hearing this news did nothing but make me more pessimistic about the future of our school."
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