The Intersession Working Group presented a report to President Denise Battles on the prospects of instituting a term during the January intersession period.
Battles convened the IWG in March in order to eventually present a proposal to the SUNY Central Administration, according to a Mar. 30 article published in The Lamron.
Assistant Provost Savi Iyer chaired the IWG for Curriculum and Assessment. Associate professor for Francophone studies Kodjo Adabra, professor of education Katie Rommel-Esham, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources Julie Briggs, Assistant Provost for Budget and Facilities Enrico Johnson, Study Abroad Office faculty fellow Wes Kennison, Director of Student Life Charles Matthews, Campus Auxiliary Services Executive Director Mark Scott and Student Association Director of Academic Affairs junior Corey Wilkinson made up the rest of the working group.
The mission of the working group was to analyze and report on the value of establishing a winter intersession term based on interest at the college, according to Wilkinson.
“Basically what our working group did was we found pros and cons to having an intersession,” Wilkinson said. “We were trying to find what other schools were doing, the pros to it and the cons to it. So we did some surveys for faculty, staff [and students].”
The IWG found that the results of the different surveys were mostly mixed, according to Wilkinson. Student opinion was split between disinterest in paying for more tuition during the intersession term and an interest in taking more credits, particularly online credits. Surveyed faculty members proved even more ambivalent, with the largest number of respondents expressing no opinion for or against an intersession period, according to Wilkinson.
An intersession term would partly involve a shift in the timing of semesters, according to Adabra. Since the January term would need to be extended, the spring semester would be shifted back a week. Multiple faculty members expressed concerns about how the later semester might affect their ability to research or students’ ability to work over the summer. Adabra felt that the shortened break between semesters for some faculty might negatively impact their teaching.
“There’s not enough time in between these semesters for professors to be at their best in the spring,” Adabra said. “Some of us also have a research agenda during that break. So if you have to teach between fall and spring that means you pretty much cannot get any research done before summer. So the main concern is starting the spring semester a week late and ending the semester a week late.”
Despite his personal misgivings, Adabra believes that the process should be democratic. Since the IWG submitted its report to Battles based on the pros and cons, she will decide whether to bring back an intersession period. Despite the submission of the report a few weeks ago, Battles’ reply is not expected soon, according to Wilkinson.
Pre-Biology major freshman Alex Singer supports a winter intersession at Geneseo, and said that he would rather stay at Geneseo during the intersession period than go elsewhere.
Wilkinson personally felt that an intersession term was not the best fit for Geneseo because students might prefer taking intersession courses at their local colleges or universities rather than returning to Geneseo earlier.
Adabra cautions that the balance between class availability and class standards should be considered when discussing the institution of an intersession period.
“Quantity is fine because you need the quantity to keep the class full and financially beneficial to the school, but it should not be the only parameter,” he said. “Quality has to go alongside quantity. Those are the kinds of elements we focused on in our working group and it’s going to be up to the president’s office to see the pros and cons and make a final decision.”