Effective in the summer of 2010, the University will launch its new Summer Session, a two-year pilot program targeting Wesleyan students. The program was officially approved last month by both the faculty and the Educational Policy Committee.
Slated to run from June 7 to July 9, the session will offer a number of popular courses that many students have difficulty enrolling in during the regular academic year, in addition to several new courses. The Summer Session will also offer three Thematic Institutes for Theatre, Psychology, and Computer Programming and Music, which are taught by two professors and typically include two interconnected courses.
According to Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) President Mike Pernick ’10, student feedback received via WSA polls and open forums expressed a need for both types of courses.
“I think this program is really great because it gives an opportunity for those students who have struggled to get into certain classes, and it also gives the opportunity to do new, exciting things,” Pernick said.
The courses were designed independently by the professors and were proposed to the Deans and Provost for approval. While some professors have financial motivations for teaching during the Summer Session, many have expressed a sincere interest in the program and are excited by the opportunity to teach new courses.
Professor Peter Rutland will be teaching a government course called the Political Economy of Oil during the session.
“I have been planning to offer [this course] for some time, but was not able to fit it into the regular semester offerings because of my other commitments,” Rutland said.
Professor Joe Rouse, who served as Chair of Faculty and a member of the Budget Priorities Committee during the planning stages of the Summer Session, believes that the program will allow the University to raise revenue without having to make further expenditures.
“If we can raise significant additional revenue, that will be very good for what we can do for our overall educational program, and thus good both for students and faculty,” Rouse said
According to Director of Strategic Initiatives Charles Salas, however, the focus of the program is not for profit.
“Its success will be based on how well it serves the interests of students and faculty,” he said. “It will not, in any case, be a financial panacea for the budgetary problems of the University.”
The Summer Session will cost students $2,500 per full credit, with 0.5 credit for labs, 1 credit for regular courses, and 2 credits for Institutes. Limited financial aid will be available.
“There is some, but the courses are all discounted, so there isn’t much financial aid,” said President Michael Roth.
Both Salas and Pernick said they have already received positive feedback in response to the new Summer Session.
“The WSA poll has asked about the Summer Session for the past year and without fail, there’s been a significant number of students who are interested in the program, and very interested in the idea,” Pernick said.
According to Salas, both students and parents expressed strong interest in the session, which prompted the University to move up registration to Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Students who enroll in the Summer Session will likely be housed in the Foss Hill dorms. Alternatively, they can find their own off-campus housing. According to Pernick, the success of student life outside of the classroom during the summer will depend mostly on the number of students who enroll, although those involved in the planning process are unsure what the enrollment numbers will look like.
“A successful summer program might also help jump-start other summer initiatives,” Rouse said. “If there is a core group of students here, and consequently more happening on campus, that changes the setting and may eventually lead to other opportunities.”
In the coming months, the University plans to advertise the new program via e-mails to students and parents, posters in Usdan, and advertisements in The Argus.
“We will be open to non-Wesleyean students, but the success of the Session depends on participation by Wesleyan students,” Salas said.
The Summer Session is expected to run again in 2011, and some professors may create different courses or institutes for the next year. Professor of Economics Joyce Jacobsen, for example, expressed interest in developing a Quantitative Institute focusing on economics.
“I’m very excited about the summer session for multiple reasons, but I would caution against any judgments being made about the [first] pilot year,” Pernick said. “I think there’s room for improvement in marketing and publicity. Many students have already made up their minds about what they’re doing for the summer and taking classes at Wesleyan doesn’t fit into that. But after that year, if people know that this opportunity is available, we can have a successful program in the future.”