In the wake of Chancellor Carol Folt’s resignation and decision to remove Silent Sam’s pedestal, members of the community are wondering how the UNC-system Board of Governors will proceed.
As Thursday’s meeting of the Committee on Strategic Initiatives began, Chairperson J. Alex Mitchell said they would not be discussing Silent Sam at all. The committee focused instead on initiatives to ensure students’ academic success.
Committee members discussed plans to improve the quality of summer school programs by requesting additional funding. Campuses within the UNC system do not currently receive state appropriations for their summer programs, and the amount of scholarship money reserved for these sessions is limited, said Andrew Kelly, senior vice president for Strategy and Policy.
Kelly said summer program funding relates to the big question the committee has been discussing as a group.
“What would it take to leverage the full 12-month calendar so that more students can earn the credits they need to graduate in a timely fashion?” Kelly said.
Additional funding would lower average summer tuition rates to make them consistent with those established for spring and fall semesters. Universities would also be able to increase the number of in-person courses offered during the summer, including more expensive lab courses.
In response to Kelly’s proposal, Mitchell expressed his approval of the committee’s work.
“Everyone’s excited, you’ve done a good job with this, the staff has done a fantastic job with this. This is stuff that we all signed up for, to actually move the needle, get kids graduated,” Mitchell said.
Kelly said the committee’s summer funding plan is based on a pilot program run during the summer of 2018. The program targeted nearly 4,000 students who were one or two courses behind the recommended 30 credits a year. Over three-quarters of those students were able to get back on track, and some even graduated that summer.
The committee also reviewed a policy implemented in Fall 2017 that required programs to limit the number of required credits to 120 hours. Universities can file for exceptions to this policy, and this has mainly been done for nursing, engineering and education programs.
In the past, approximately 52 percent of academic programs at the 15 universities who filed reports required more than 120 credit hours. This represents approximately 18,000 of degrees awarded in 2015 and 2016. After the policy was implemented, this number was lowered to 7.5 percent of programs.
Kelly said this will have a positive impact on a student’s ability to succeed.
“That’s gonna pay immediate dividends to students that are starting now," Kelly said. "They’re gonna have one less obstacle to that four-year completion.”
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