Summer term

November 13, 2014 / Phil Lesch

Portland State Vanguard
November 10th, 2014

I don’t know anyone who is happy about summer term at Portland State.

In 2013, the abrupt cancellations of some 90 classes, a number of them fully enrolled, left students in the lurch. This move left faculty scratching their heads and earned PSU undesirable coverage in The Oregonian. In 2014, the summer term budget was cut yet units were expected to maintain student credit hours. Departments responded with a patchwork of approaches, most of which involved pay cuts to faculty regardless of rank and a push to online courses, for which students pay more.

The pleasing hum of learning on our summer campus capped by the outdoor August graduation ceremony in the Park Blocks is no more. What will happen this summer? Will empty buildings be rented out to even higher paying customers while we exile our students to D2L? Is this how knowledge serves the city?

Summer term at PSU has become a maquiladora zone in which administrators tinker with schemes to keep tuition flowing but in which questions of student access and retention, program quality and fairness to hard-working faculty appear to be marginal concerns. To be sure, summer term has never been well integrated into shared governance on our campus. This part of faculty work is understood to be part of “additional duties” acknowledged but not exactly regulated in the American Association of University Professors contract.

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