As students begin to come back from summer break, many are excited to see what has changed on and off campus. What students won’t see yet are all the new programs Miami is instituting this coming year.
According to a letter by Provost Bobby Gempesaw, many of the initiatives are aimed at creating a greater learning experience for students. One of the most noticeable changes is the implementation of the winter term.
In order to account for the new term, the university had to adjust the schedule for the existing fall and spring semesters. There is one less week of classes in both semesters, and individual classes are longer. Students have already started to sign up for classes in the new winter term.
“Close to 1,300 students have already pre-registered for classes during the new term,” Gempesaw said.
Another new initiative is three-year degree plans. Under this new initiative, students will be able to take graduate coursework toward their undergraduate degrees. This allows undergrad students to pursue a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree at the same time.
“There are currently 24 master’s programs that students can take as combined degrees,” Gempesaw said.
Gempesaw’s letter also states that by the fall of 2014, 60 percent of the university’s programs will be tailored to three-year undergraduate degree plans.
Miami is also setting up new advising and course management tools. The u.Direct program uses existing degree audit data to create interactive roadmaps, allowing students to build their own academic plans and a clearer path to graduation. Starting in the summer of 2014, students and advisors will have access to the site and be able to work together to meet educational goals, according to Gempesaw.
Another change to the academic curriculum is the redesign of the Global Miami Plan. The Miami Plan requires students to take a number of foundation classes in addition to those required for their major.
During the past year, the Miami Plan Redesign Task Force sent out surveys and researched different models of liberal arts education to come up with several new working models. Over the summer, a large number of faculty and administrative members combined these into one new model that they are looking to implement.
Director of Liberal Education, John Tassoni, said a new plan would be beneficial on multiple levels.
“If purposefully created, a new plan may reduce curriculum glut and better ensure efficient use of human and financial resources,” Tassoni said.
A proposal could be brought to the senate as early as the spring semester, according to Tassoni.
Students will also benefit from a change to the Miami Plan, according to sophomore Hunter Salmon. He said he believes a new plan would make it easier for students to get their foundation classes out of the way earlier.
“It took almost two years to finish all my foundation courses, now I’m taking classes that I like that go with my major,” Salmon said.
As students come and go, so do faculty members, and the university is welcoming in 73 new faculty members this fall.
There were a number of changes to the senior leadership. Among the changes are the promotions of Elizabeth Mullenix to the position of interim dean in the College of Creative Arts, and Carolyn Haynes to the position of Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, starting this year.