Many institutions of higher education have a short term of classes between fall and spring semesters. Often in January, these “J-term” classes can be a way for students to pick up a few extra credits to either catch up or get ahead in plans to graduate in a timely manner. Here at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside this week wraps up a 4-week J-term session we call “Winterim.” (A quick aside: 3 days of classes were canceled because of bad weather!) For the most part, classes were scheduled as a result of instructor interest: an instructor would propose a course, and if it met minimum enrollment guidelines it was offered. In my college I also approved a couple of classes that were below minimum enrollment standards, but they were proposed by a graduate student and a brand new assistant professor, so I wanted to try and support them. Luckily we have a little bit of one-time extra money in the budget for this fiscal year, so we could do this.
Going forward I’d like to be more strategic in scheduling Winterim courses. Oh, we’ll still support instructor interest, but I also want to make sure that we have classes that support students’ timely degree process; e.g., we offer classes required by students’ majors. Also, with pending budget cuts we’ll have to make sure that all classes will attract enough enrollment to cover expenses…and maybe with luck we can make a profit that can be used to support other initiatives! Ah, the challenges of organizational leadership.