Photography Department cuts credit hours

By BenitaZepeda

When it comes time for students to register for the fall 2010 semester, Photography Department students will find that all four-credit courses have been changed to three-credit courses.

The change was considered and reviewed by the Photography Department Curriculum Committee for more than  a year. The commitee submitted the proposal in January to Eliza Nichols, Dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the change was approved in February.

Although there will no longer be any four-credit courses in the department, the course curriculum will remain the same despite the change in credit hours.

Bob Thall, chair of the Photography Department, said all the changes were part of improvements the committee suggested.

“We can see no reason why some photography courses carry four credits while most carry three,” Thall said. “In some cases, there may have been a reason at one time to designate a course as four credits, but in each case there is no current reason for the difference in credit hours.”

Thall said this will not affect students currently enrolled in four-credit courses, or students who have already completed one.

“Any student successfully completing a four-credit course through this summer will have that class count as four credits,” Thall said. “Anyone enrolled in courses now will see no effect to those courses.”

These changes will not affect students graduating in May or the summer.  They only impact students who  enroll in classes starting next fall. Incoming freshmen and continuing students  will be affected by the change in credit hours.

The solution for making up the credit hours is allowing continuing students and freshmen to have the opportunity to take electives in addition to one-credit workshops.

“We think this is a good thing, providing more choice and better preparation for our students,” Thall said.

Steve Kapelke, provost and senior vice president of the college, agreed these credit changes will not affect students who are trying to graduate.

“A curriculum change never takes place in the semester which the committee is working on it,” Kapelke said. “Nothing we do is going to affect our current seniors. We would never allow that.”

However, junior photography major Samantha Gold said she is upset about the change because she had worked out her college advising plan based on four advising plan based on four-credit courses.

“I’ve planned out my whole academic career very precisely,” Gold said. “I am supposed to be graduating in three years instead of four.”

Gold said she needed to take three more four-credit courses in addition to summer classes at Columbia and Harold Washington to have the required number of credits to graduate in three years.  The credit cut has left her with 117 credit hours at the time she was supposed to graduate.

“I worked really hard to be able to graduate in three years, and I feel like now I have done all that work for nothing,” Gold said.

Gold said that she hoped it affected only incoming freshman and that continuing students already in the program could have continued their four credit plan.

“I think it’s an awful situation for the kids that are already in school,” Gold said. “Most of them, if they are good students, should have a plan and they are ruining

people’s plans.”

Despite students in situations similar to Gold, Kapelke said the committee worked very hard to evaluate various parts in the Photography Department and really considered how it would affect students.

“It’s a good department and they always have the student’s best interests at heart,” Kapelke said. “But at the same time, they are also conscious of standards that exist within the best practices that are articulated by national organizations.”

Thall said faculty and staff won’t be affected by the change in the course credits.

“In looking at four credit and three credit classes, the curriculum committee could see no difference in the teacher time or workload,” Thall said. “I teach both three credit and four credit classes, and I’ve never noticed any difference in my time or effort between the two types of classes.”

Kapelke said the amount of credit hours isn’t as important as the quality of the courses.

“It’s not only about when the student is going to graduate, or how many credits they are taking,” Kapelke said. “It is more about the quality of the education and the educational standards we are setting which are very important.”