Financial crisis hits CE program

The Commanding English program will merge with the TRiO program next fall because the College of Education and Human Development is facing serious financial problems. The CE program was initially part of the General College when it had money to run the program and is similar to the English as a second language program, but unlike some ESL courses, students earn credits toward their degrees. The TRiO program is federally funded and is for low- to modest-income students intended to offer extra help if they need it. The change means students in CE wonâÄôt have classes and instructors of their own anymore and will be merged with other classes at the school. There will also be less of a focus on language. When the General College integrated with the CEHD, the Post Secondary Teaching and Learning Department was established and operated the CE program. âÄúWhat we keep hearing is a department cannot run a program,âÄù CE program director Robin Murie said. âÄúAs a way to help the budget, the department decided to give the two programs over to the TRiO.âÄù The two programs had been together within the CEHD for 33 years, working parallel to each other, Bruce Schelske , director of the TRiO program at the University, said. The two programs serve a similar demographic, he said, and the students in the CE program are also eligible for the TRiO program. The TRiO program is intended for first-generation college-bound students âÄî meaning their parents or grandparents did not complete a four-year college degree. Also students who have disabilities but have demonstrated strong academic potential are eligible for TRiO. The majority of students in the CE program are immigrants from war-torn countries who came to the United States in search of a better life through higher education. Some CE students are already taking integrated courses with TRiO students. There will be a big change to the CE program, however. Students in the program will not continue to have advisers and instructors who are specific to the program. The reading-agent courses will also be eliminated, Murie said. They help prepare students for other courses. In reading-agent courses, students are expected to register for at least one to two credit classes, which are typically 18 to 25 student discussion courses that help students do well in larger courses. For example, a CE student taking a psychology course would attend it as usual, but would also go to another course just for CE students to further discuss the material. Though Murie raised some positive aspects about this change âÄî more course variety, larger and more mixed classes âÄî she is concerned students will lack what they need most âÄî more language focus. The CE program is changing and, she said, is becoming less of an English program. TRiO serves a similar function, but it doesnâÄôt have the reading or language focus. It is more about how to study for course material, Murie said. The TRiOâÄôs Schelske said while his program may not be specifically for reading, it covers much of the same material. âÄúHow do you break it down? It overlaps the reading,âÄù he said. Murie said one positive change will be the CE staff working with students in the TRiO program. âÄúThe good news for TRiO is that they are getting the CE staff, which means the multicultural students in the TRiO will get help from these instructors,âÄù she said. Another change could be a financial benefit for CE program students. Students who are admitted to the TRiO program and perform well in the TRiO courses earn money based on their grade level. Students with an A- or A in such courses get $600, while those who make B- or B get $400. Also, if the students get a GPA of 2.8 or better, they earn $400. Ramadan Mussa , first-year political science and sociology student, said the CE is suitable for him. âÄúThe instructors work one-on-one with us and we get to know the instructors and students well because of the smaller class sizes,âÄù he said.