Yudof discusses proposed credit minimum, exceptions

Tim Sturrock

University President Mark Yudof said Thursday his proposal requiring students to attend classes full-time would also include many exemptions for students with extenuating circumstances.

Yudof told the University Student Senate the policy would be similar to the University of California-Berkeley’s, which exempts students with full-time jobs, disabilities or an illness in the family from abiding by the requirement.

“The default position would be that you’re full time unless you have a reason, a good reason to be part time,” Yudof said. “And you can do that and be very fair to individual students.”

This case-by-case situation could be handled under the existing advising system without adding bureaucracy, he said.

Yudof said he didn’t create the proposal to receive a better rating for the University. “My problem is the 50 percent of students who don’t have a degree by year six, and the fact that only 5 percent of that 50 will ever get a degree.”

The impression the graduation rate leaves on potential students and their parents does bother him. He said it discourages bright students from attending the University and could lead them to other schools.

When Yudof announced the plan last month, he said students would be required to take at least 13 credits, but he said Wednesday that could change as the plan is developed.

Yudof said he also has concerns about a possible flat tuition rate – a policy that would make students pay a single amount for school no matter how many credits they take.

“I think it has to be phased in,” he said. “It would be very unfair to announce that tomorrow morning to the existing student body.”

He said the policy would take a lot of planning and have exemptions as well. He said a decision or finished plan for both the minimum credit limit and the flat tuition rate could come sometime in the spring after further discussions with students and faculty.

Khaled Dajani, a student senator, said although Yudof’s speech was vague, it relieved some of his fears that the policy would be a mandate for all students. He said he thinks the requirement will be a guide for students with less determination than others.

He blames the opportunities available in an urban environment for leading some students away from a four-year or five-year graduation.

Later Thursday at a meeting of the Student and Faculty Senate, Executive Vice President Craig Swan said even by setting aside factors such as the location of the University, students at other Big Ten schools still out-perform Twin Cities campus students’ graduation rates.

Sen. Rich Green, a Duluth campus student, said students have told him inadequate advising has gotten in the way of a quick graduation.

Swan agreed and said accurate and timely advising is critical. “As we make mistakes, we need to be careful that we don’t hold students accountable for something that we can’t broker on the other side of the bargain,” he said.