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Goodell says timeline is unfair to faculty

April 18, 2013

By Daniel Herda

A four to three credit hour conversion means that 60 hours of instruction will be reduced to 45 hours of instruction. This also means faculty members must cut 15 hours of instruction from their course material, thus, cutting 15 hours of knowledge as well.

This was the pressing concern that the Faculty Senate and University Curriculum Committee (UCC) have been trying to sort out. The Cleveland Stater approached Joanne Goodell, president of Faculty Senate, to understand the Senate’s perspective.
Joanne Goodell
Goodell said the most important reason that the no confidence vote was passed was because the channels between the faculty and Berkman concerning the timeline of the implementation of the new credit hour system were not listened to.

The UCC will handle the curriculum issues, and other groups that need to be involved in supporting those changes will be consulted on an as-needed basis. According to Goodell, other groups would include advisors, the graduate college and representatives from part-time students.

Cleveland State University faculty members have been instructed to alter their classes to fit the three credit hour system by the 2013 summer semester.

Goodell said because of the year-long registration process that the faculty has to alter their curriculum in their classes to convert to the three credit hour system, and that the registrar’s office needs the class guidelines one year in advance. Goodell also said she met with Berkman and the UCC chair on Thursday, April 11.

“After the meeting I had with President Berkman and the UCC chair, we concluded that we would like to extend the faculty’s deadline,” Goodell said.

When Berkman became the president of Cleveland State in 2009, he said he wanted to focus on student success. In April 2010 the Student Success Committee was appointed, which was a joint committee of faculty and students.

“In 2011 that committee presented its first report and did not recommend a four to three conversion to my knowledge,” Goodell said.

Goodell also said that in April 2012, the Student Success Committee presented its second report in the summer and did mention the four to three credit hour conversion in that report. She also said that there are very few faculty at the university in the summer semesters and that the committees do not meet very much during the summer season.

In October 2012, the UCC took up the requests of the Student Success Committee’s report from April 2012 and immediately acted upon their recommendations. According to Goodell, the UCC investigated on the report and lowered the 128 hours required to graduate to 120, creating the four to three credit hour conversion.

Goodell said very few universities in the U.S. have a combination system of four and three credits, and that it is important that Cleveland State adapts to the three credit system for the future success of the students.

“This will make it easier for students to transfer to CSU,” Goodell said.

Goodell said that if students think that the faculty and administration are fighting, there are not any sides to the credit hour conversion and that both the faculty and administration are working hard to move everything forward in a positive manner.

Goodell mentioned why she thought the administration waited so long to release their information and plan on the credit hour conversion. She said it would have been helpful if the administration had informed the students and faculty earlier about their plans, but also said that if you can’t tell them everything, they could be causing some students to worry for nothing.

“I don’t think the administration wanted to communicate until they were sure of their final decision,” Goodell said.

Goodell spoke about the open forum on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, where Berkman and other board members met with students and faculty in the MC Auditorium to discuss the credit hour conversion changes, which turned into an ugly confrontation between students and Berkman.

Goodell added that the open forum was actually for faculty to ask questions and students ended up coming and with very pressing questions. She said that the administration is now planning to have student implementation in each of the colleges during the process of the credit hour conversion as quick as they can get it organized, which she hopes will be very soon.

The breaking of a four credit hour course to a three credit hour course is causing the faculty to cut some course material, which Goodell feels is the biggest problem of the conversion. She said it is very difficult for faculty members because they have to rethink their entire course sequence. She also said that valuable material cut from courses might be needed in a future course in the same sequence.

“This is not a simple thing, the faculty will have to decide what to do with the material they cut, if they should create another class for it, or if they should forget about it,” Goodell said.

Goodell said the experience that faculty and students are having regarding the credit conversion first started 14 years ago and that everything really began when Cleveland State went from a quarter to semester system in 1999.

She said most classes were on a four credit schedule at that time, and when the semester system passed, there was no mandate to make all four credit hour classes to three credit hour classes. She added that there was also no consistency across the university and no rules from the Ohio Board of Regents, like there is this time.

“When the 1999 change happened, some departments went to three credit hour classes, some departments went to four credit hour classes and some were mixed,” Goodell said. “It was based upon the judgment of the program.”

Goodell said that the Board of Trustees has made their wishes known and the faculty have voiced their opinion with the no confidence vote. She also mentioned what the no confidence vote was supposed to mean. She said that it comes across as ‘we hate you’ and dramatic, but that was not the reason behind it.

“The no confidence vote was to formally disagree with the timeline of the implementation,” Goodell said.