Curriculum changes approach for next year

Students may be aware that starting next year a new semester system goes into effect. The current trimester system will change to a modified semester system with a J-term.

The biggest change for some, though, will be a revised core that will go into effect at the same time.

Mercyhurst Faculty Senate Committee reached a consensus after more than two years of work regarding the new curriculum for Mercyhurst students.

This revision marks the first core change since 1997 and the first faculty-initiated change in 20 years according to Faculty Senate President Michael Federici, Ph.D.

Generally, a university’s core is revised every decade or so. It has been more than a decade since the last core revision, so the time had come for a change.

According to Assistant Vice President for Academic Services Michele Wheaton, the new changes will not hinder any student’s graduation.

“(The new curriculum) is intended to try to help develop well rounded and marketable students,” said Wheaton, who emphasized the changes are to aid students in their academic endeavors.

Information about the changes will eventually be available from a link on the university portal website.

Wheaton hopes to have documents available, a FAQ section and the ability for students to post questions and find answers about the changes in the coming weeks.

Classes scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will now be 60 minutes long and classes on Tuesday and Thursdays will last 100 minutes.

Current students will earn a minimum of 120 credits to graduate and new students for next year will be required to obtain 121.

“In terms of the changes to the core curriculum, I think most people will find a very familiar and comfortable balance between continuity and change,” said Chair of the Philosophy Department James Snyder, Ph.D.

In terms of changes, there are numerous changes in all departments. Overall, however, most students will find they need one less course to graduate for all majors.

Furthermore, the J-term, an intensive, multiple-week session in January, is aimed at offering students unique courses and opportunities.

Incoming freshmen will be required to take J-term twice as they go about their academic career. Those who register for J-term without the registration of spring term will as a result receive no financial aid due to their part-time status.

According to Federici, the arts category has been expanded; the mathematics component reduced from three necessary classes to two. Nevertheless, he assures students that the new categories of the core still retain elements of the old.

The change of semesters will also aid students in getting used to the new core.

According to Christina Riley-Brown, chair of the English department, most universities have moved from the trimester system to the semester system already.

“It is better to be on the semester system,” said Riley-Brown, “because the university can remain flexible, innovative and creative with class offerings.”

Though there are difficulties in any process, the majority of faculty has been behind the changes.

Accordingly, students as well seem positive, though apprehensive about acclimating to the new changes. In effort to reduce student anxiety, advisers will sit down with students this spring term to go over their academic profiles and make sure they are on time to graduate with the new curriculum changes.