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Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek shared the university’s goals for enhancing summer term with members of the UT Board of Trustees Thursday.

The UT board held its annual meeting in Knoxville this week. Administrators from the Chattanooga and Martin campuses also shared overviews about enhancing summer term.

Our primary goal is to expand our course offerings and involve more of our student body in summer school and related campus activities,” said Cheek. “We want to make the most of the resources we have, both programmatic and operationally. We know there is great potential to offer more, not just for the sake of doing more, but to advance our strategic goals.”

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch is the new administrative intern hired to implement task force recommendations. Yamagata-Lynch is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling. A full-time, permanent coordinator will be added in the near future.

Over the past several years, roughly 9,000 students have taken classes each summer. About 28 percent of undergraduates and 54 percent of our graduate and professional students take summer courses. UT exceeds the Top 25 average for percentage of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students participating in the summer term.

Cheek told the board that he set a goal for 12 percent growth in the delivery of student credit hours in summer by 2015.

Making the summer term a more viable option for students helps improve the university’s four-year graduation rate. Research shows that summer school promotes student success. Students in good academic standing who attend summer school tend to improve their overall GPA. The goals also help to further address the bottleneck course problem – a priority that faculty and staff have been working on for the past several years.

Cheek said recruiting more students and teaching more courses would utilize campus buildings and other resources more efficiently.

Starting this summer, a new funding model shares 30 percent of summer tuition dollars with departments. The model also gives departments flexibility with compensation for faculty teaching summer term.

Cheek noted that several barriers exist to achieve the campus’s goals for summer growth. Some challenges for students are financial, but Cheek offered ideas to assist more students who wish to enroll.

“Broadening summer school will help generate revenue and resources and also help to improve graduation rates and student success,” said Cheek. “Ultimately, all of these make us an even better university and help us reach our goals for becoming a Top 25 public research university.”

In his presentation, Cheek recognized the hard work and insightful recommendations of the Summer Term Utilization Task Force, chaired by Nursing Dean Victoria Niederhauser. See the task force’s report here (pdf).