As long as you're making a change, it might as well be a total change.
That's what Utah Valley Community College officials decided when the Board of Regents gave them approval to change from the quarter system to the semester system two years ago.The change takes effect when fall semester begins on Aug. 29. UVCC will have 16-week fall and spring semesters and a 10-week summer term. Most students will attend three five-hour classes instead of five three-hour classes and it will take about 70 semester hours to earn an associate's degree.
While preparing for the change, officials decided it was as good a time as any for a curriculum review. So when UVCC makes the switch next month, students will be getting more than just a new class schedule.
"We have an opportunity for excellence that few schools get. It's almost like starting a new school," said J. Karl Worthington, associate vice president of academic affairs.
Worthington said the curriculum review began in fall 1988 when curriculum committees and a full-time curriculum technician began evaluating programs to see if courses met the school's goals and the departments' mission statements. The committees also did a competency review on each course and determined if programs met accreditation standards and fulfilled the needs of area employers.
"We found out that we were doing a lot of things right and that we could be doing a lot of things better," Worthington said.
Research shows that most students attend UVCC with the intent of transferring to another university and that many of the changes are focused on making UVCC a better transfer institution, he said.
"When we walk in on Aug. 29 we're pretty confident that we are going to be teaching exactly what students need," Worthington said. "We are going to be able to say, `This is what the students need to know and to be able to do to meet the needs of the community that we serve.' "
Worthington said some courses have been added, some condensed and some eliminated. UVCC offered 1,010 courses last year and will offer 940 next year. The course numbering system was changed to make it more compatible with that of other universities and more 200-level courses have been added. He also said that school officials want it to be more realistic for a student to complete a degree in two years, instead of the 2 1/2 years it has taken to complete some programs in the past.
"We sort of joke that we'll need another change in eight years because it really makes you focus on what really needs to be done," he said.
President Kerry D. Romesburg said the change will take away many of the disadvantages UVCC students have faced in the past. He said with the quarter system UVCC students had a difficult time competing with Brigham Young University students for jobs and housing because BYU started and finished earlier than UVCC. Now both schools will start and finish together.
Romesburg said the change will also help retain students and allows students to attend BYU and UVCC at the same time, something students have wanted to do in the past. The school will save money because it will only have three registration periods instead of four.
"This gives the students more opportunities and saves everybody money. What we're really doing is trading breadth for depth," Romesburg said.
Because students are attending two semesters instead of three quarters, they will have to come up with more money up front to pay for tuition and fees. Cost will be $561 for 12 semester hours, compared to the former $368 for 16 quarter hours.
Worthington said 26 new full-time faculty positions plus several part-time positions have been added for next year. But he said the new faculty positions are just as much a result of growth as they are a result of the curriculum changes.
Had admissions remained static, many of the changes would not have taken place, he said. But UVCC has 1,700 more students than it did when it decided to make the change and early admission figures for next year show an anticipated increase of about 40 percent.
Worthington said school officials are determined to make the semester system work and that more changes will probably be made as time goes by. But he said it is still too early to compare the semester system with the quarter system.
"There's a little reputation on the line here so we want it to work and make it look good."