Over the past decade, the administration has sharply cut the number of summer courses offered. This hampers student success and flies in the face of EMU’s stated mission to provide “higher education to students who may not otherwise have such an opportunity.” Our proposal would restore summer course offerings on and benefit the entire university. Unfortunately, the administration has rejected our proposal. This is shortsighted, given the importance of summer courses to EMU students and how the faculty proposal would improve student success.
The number of summer courses scheduled at EMU has declined significantly over the past five years. Even if a course is scheduled, the university may cancel it if enrollment does not meet predetermined levels. Undergraduate courses with fewer than fifteen enrolled students are canceled; graduate courses with fewer than ten students suffer the same fate. The reason given for these cuts is that the courses don’t have enough students to cover the costs of offering them, although faculty strongly disputes some of the costs the administration claims for summer courses.
Like many of Michigan’s colleges and universities, EMU has experienced declining enrollments over the past decade, including in its summer courses. However, the decision to cut so many summer courses threatens the ability of EMU students to graduate on time and might even contribute to the decline in enrollment.
Well more than half of our student body works at least part-time; they benefit from being able to take courses throughout the year. A study of enrollment data by EMU Professor Judith Kullberg shows how important summer courses are for EMU’s students: they help them graduate.
Seventy percent of EMU students who take even one summer course graduate within six years of beginning their studies. Of those who do not take a summer course, less than 25 percent graduate within six years.
These statistics are even more striking for students of color. African American students who enroll in at least one summer course are four times more likely to graduate in six years than those who don’t.
Studies of other institutions across the nation present similar statistics. The simple fact is: summer courses are important to student success. Students who cannot find the summer courses they need to graduate on time at EMU can choose to study at other colleges. Even worse, they may simply drop out of school and never complete their degrees.
The faculty proposal addresses cost concerns by adopting a tiered pay structure that would pay professors on a per-student basis for low-enrollment courses. This model makes it easier for EMU to offer an extensive and diverse summer schedule that would help our students achieve their goals.
Everyone at EMU takes very seriously our vocation to enrich the education and careers of our students. Hopefully, the administration will recognize how crucial summer courses are to that vocation—and how far our proposal goes towards giving students real options to stay at EMU and complete their degrees here. If we can help more students graduate on time, we’ll attract and retain more students, building a foundation for success for the entire EMU community.