4-1-4 plan won't affect graduation

Mercyhurst College faculty will soon vote on whether the college should switch to the 4-1-4 term system.

Faculty Senate will vote on the college’s core curriculum at its Dec. 14 meeting as well as on the academic calendar system at its Jan. 11 meeting.

The calendar proposal that faculty vote on will get sent to the Office of Academic of Affairs, who will then decide if the proposal goes on to College Council.

College Council consists of four students, four faculty, four administration members and representatives from North East.

Once it is through College Council, President Tom Gamble, Ph.D., will decide on it, and finally the Board of Trustees must approve the proposal.

“Faculty is pretty low on that chain, but their view is taken pretty seriously,” said Michael Federici, Ph.D., president of the Faculty Senate.

The options faculty will vote on at the Jan. 11 Faculty Senate meeting include keeping trimesters with the extended classes as they are now and the 4-1-4 term system.

The 4-1-4 calendar is made up of terms that last 14 weeks, 3½ weeks and 14 weeks. Faculty will also decide if they prefer the 4-1-4 or 4-4-1 option.

If the 4-1-4 calendar is chosen, the change would not take place until 2013-14 at the earliest, which is when the new core, if approved, will start.

“This way we can do it at once, if it turns out we’re doing both,” Federici said.

If the college decides on the 4-1-4 calendar, academic departments will use next year to plan how they will structure their classes.

“It will take some time for departments to figure out exactly how to reconstruct or reconfigure their major requirements,” he said.

Federici said he has heard students saying that the college is changing the calendar as a way to make more money because students will not be able to graduate on time on the 4-1-4 system.

“This is simply not true. The calendar is not going to be the reason why someone has to go extra time,” he said. “The college will bend over backward to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs Phil Belfiore, Ph.D., explained that the Office of Academic Affairs will do everything necessary to make sure students are able to take the necessary classes to graduate on time.

Belfiore explained that classes may need to be reconfigured if the 4-1-4 calendar is chosen, and some core classes may not be offered if the core is revised. Even so, the Office of Academic Affairs will work with students to find them courses to fulfill requirements.

“We guarantee that students will graduate as they expected to graduate,” he said.

In order to guarantee that students will be able to graduate on time, Federici asked all departments to assess the feasibility of switching to the 4-1-4 calendar. He also asked whether departments prefer the current trimester system or switching to the 4-1-4 term system. Nearly every department responded.

Some departments said they would need more time to think about the calendar system in order to see if changing to 4-1-4 is possible.

Federici had one case where a department said it would not be able to operate on the 4-1-4 calendar. Even so, Federici said the department did not have a convincing argument.

“To argue that it can’t be done is a little silly when it is by far the most common academic calendar that exists,” he said.

He would not release the name of the department because the survey was confidential.

“I have not run into where people are unable to change, but I have run into where people are unwilling to change,” said Federici.

Federici said that all major problems will be accounted for when considering the 4-1-4 calendar, but everyone cannot get what they want when it comes to the decision.

He explained that during the time of the American Revolution, the nation was divided into thirds on what people wanted.

The college is divided similarly in their calendar choices.

“Of course there are going to be some different opinions,” said Federici. “A leader must take them into account and lead.”