Published February 27, 2015
In just its second year, UB’s winter session is proving to be quite a success story. Provost Charles Zukoski gave a report on UBThisWinter and a variety of other happenings during Thursday’s Professional Staff Senate meeting.
Winter session ran from Jan. 5-23, with 1,533 students taking approximately 5,000 credit hours. That’s up 200 students and 1,500 credit hours from last year, according to Zukoski, who added that more than 160 students studied abroad.
“Fascinatingly, 71 percent of the winter credit hours were online,” he noted, adding that the Department of Physics accounted for a sizable chunk of credit hours taken. “We get a lot of enrollment from students who are not enrolled here at UB. They come from across the state and are able to take our physics classes online during the winter session.”
Other highlights of the provost’s report included updates on:
Sean Sullivan, vice provost for academic planning, budget and evaluation, and Andrew Stott, dean of undergraduate education, are visiting with decanal units to talk about how those units are thinking about delivering the courses for the program, the provost added. “It’s a very exciting program and it’s moving forward. The argument that was made and that was accepted was that we do believe deeply in the concept of a liberal education as a core of the degrees UB offers. And we believe sufficiently that it will change the way we do business, that what we teach and how we teach it will change as a result of this program. It will lead to distinction and students will want to come and experience that core education we’re going to be providing.”
“It’s very exciting. We’re trying to make sure that we create a pipeline for our students to get internships with those companies, so it’s a great partnership,” added Arlene Kaukus, director of career services and the Professional Staff Senate’s representative on the UB START-UP NY Selection Committee.
After his presentation, Zukoski fielded questions from the audience. One PSS member asked about UB’s position on online courses.
“When we were going through Realizing UB 2020, one of the questions put on the table was do we want to begin to play in the area of Massive Open Online Courses and begin to think about becoming an online university? Our decision was that we wanted to remain primarily a residential, classical university,” Zukoski said. He noted, however, that UB does offer several complete degrees online.
Another PSS member asked about the use of adjuncts and nontenure-track faculty in the new general education curriculum. “That was a big topic of conversation. What’s interesting about gen ed is that it doesn’t require any new credit hours,” the provost said, adding that he asked the General Education Steering Committee to strongly consider reducing the reliance on adjuncts.
The university is instead looking to “clinical” faculty. “These would be full-time, long-term members of the university who are carrying substantially larger teaching loads than the research faculty would and aren’t tenure-track in that way and wouldn’t be because they aren’t doing the scholarship that’s required for tenure. The hope is to reduce reliance on short-term adjuncts.”