KSU to change workshop credits

Ryan Loew

Students looking to take credit workshops next spring may find that those offered now will have changed. Others may not be available at all.

A new administrative policy, adopted in February by the university’s executive officers, will force departments to either convert their Spring 2006 workshops into scheduled courses or charge students a special fee for taking them.

Starting Spring 2006, the revenue created by workshops converted into courses will go directly to the total university budget, said Vice President of Administration David Creamer. Currently, workshops are offered through the College of Continuing Studies in collaboration with schools and departments. The revenue made by the workshops is then shared between Continuing Studies and the academic departments.

Continuing Studies was designed to serve working professionals, Creamer said, and “Somehow that wasn’t occurring here.” Instead, a large number of students, who pay no extra tuition for the workshops and have full-time schedules, are enrolled in workshops but “no new revenue was being made” off the workshops.

“We’re encouraging these entrepreneurial activities, but they have to be really entrepreneurial,” he said. “And they really have to bring in additional revenue. In this case that wasn’t true.”

Patricia Book, vice president for Regional Development, which now oversees the College of Continuing Studies, said schools and departments found a way to benefit from additional revenue, and “Of course they liked it very much.”

“It’s kind of a budget anomaly,” Book said, comparing the university’s budget to a bucket filled with revenue from state subsidies, tuition and research. “What happened here is that some departments drilled a hole in the bucket and, I’m sure in good faith, wanted to offer some additional course options for students.”

But instead of offering a class as a scheduled course, schools and departments would convert it into a workshop and ask Continuing Studies to run it, Book said. Continuing Studies would then bill the university, and both Continuing Studies and the schools would get the money.

“And that kind of raised David Creamer’s attention, because it wasn’t planned,” she said. “It became kind of a big hole in the bucket. It got out of hand. Funds being diverted weren’t budgeted to be handled that way, which, from the student’s perspective, is great, but from the university’s perspective is not. We can’t afford to have surprises in the budget process.”

Redirecting revenue

Relocating money from workshops will provide roughly $1 million for the university’s budget, Creamer said, which will be used to reduce cuts to academic affairs.

It’s not as much about taking away departmental money but redirecting growth efforts, said James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information.

Under the new transitional policy, the university will offer two options to every department for each credit workshop offered during the 2004-05 year, Creamer said. Departments can accept a one-time budget adjustment of $800 per credit hour to convert their workshops into regularly scheduled courses, Creamer said, or they can continue to offer student credit workshops under the prior model, except all students will be billed an extra fee.

“I don’t think they’ll be as attractive to students if they have to pay the extra fee, but the original intent was to serve not our traditional undergraduates but nontraditional students,” Creamer said.

Additionally, revenue generated from workshops no longer can be shared with Continuing Studies or the participating departments.

“What we can’t encourage is something that simply reallocates existing funds to some other priority that hasn’t been approved by our normal budget process,” Creamer said.

Gaudino said the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which stands to lose about $110,000 with the new policy, will most likely accept the university’s offer of $800 per credit hour to transform the workshops into courses. It can’t, however, continue to offer workshops as students know them now, and the majority of JMC workshops probably will not be offered as workshops in the spring.

“We don’t think that every course would stand on its own legs economically,” Gaudino said. “It puts an additional economic burden on the student to ask them to pay an extra fee to take a course we feel is important to their development.”

Some lose; some come up even

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication has more than one option for altering its workshops, such as converting them to courses and collaborating smaller technology workshops into one course, said Jeff Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“If a course is important to the progress of a student, we’ll find a way to continue to offer it,” Fruit said. “In the spring, things will be significantly different.”

Creamer does expect workshops to be canceled with the changes, and schools such as JMC will lose money while others will remain relatively unchanged. The amount of change depends on how many full-time undergraduates take the workshops.

“There is no intent to help them absorb that loss,” Creamer said. “We’ve only addressed the issue of cost of instruction. The choices will have to be ones departments will have to make based on their whole set of priorities.”

The School of Library and Information and Science, which offers 79 workshops to 879 students who are mostly working professionals, expects at most a “modest drop” in revenue, said Richard Rubin, director of the school.

“The impact on (the school) would be much less than the impact on JMC,” Rubin said. “We don’t expect to make any adjustments to our workshops. They’re an important part, but they certainly don’t make up the majority of our revenue.”

The policy change affects academic units differently, said David England, dean of the College of Education. While he is unsure what the college’s exact course will be, there could be some “short-term implications.”

“I want to say we won’t be disadvantaged. The university is committed to supporting appropriate instruction in this college,” he said, and he suspects that the number of full-time undergraduates enrolled in workshops will decrease.

“We feel that we have planned and offered these appropriately, and from what I understand, we will be able to continue to do so,” England said. “In a time of diminishing resources, we have to make sure we plan, advise and fund our instruction as wisely and appropriately as possible, and that’s what this is about.”

And some face cuts

If it’s a course that’s designed for students who are already enrolled, then it should be offered through the regular schedule of classes, President Carol Cartwright said.

“The role of Continuing Studies is to reach out to noncontinuing students,” Cartwright said. “Here’s the difference between something that’s essential and something that’s nice to have, and we need to keep our focus on what’s essential. If it’s something that’s an interesting additional experience, we have to look if whether or not we have the resources to provide that.”

Bob West, a professor emeritus who instructs 15 workshops in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, disagreed.

“This was imposed fast,” West said. “There should have been more time for schools to adjust.”

JMC workshops, such as Cult Films and Rappin’ About Rap and the Hip Hop Nation, were created to enrich all university students, West said, not just journalism students.

“So we did reach out to a new constituency,” he said. “We did do what the university wanted. JMC was unique because it created workshops for the whole university community.

“I think the idea that Continuing Studies reaches out to the community is old hat. What’s new is that they were able to create these workshops that other universities weren’t doing. That whole aspect vanishes.”

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].