CCRI Faculty Give President Hughes “Failing Grade” on New January Session

Monday, October 16, 2017


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CCRI President Meghan Hughes

The Community College of Rhode Island announced that in 2018, it is instituting a "January Session" as an interim academic period -- which the CCRI Faculty Association (CCRIFA) has blasted, claiming that faculty were not included in the decision process.

On Friday, Rosemary Costigan, the CCRI Vice President of Academic Affairs, announced to faculty the "January Session," noting it is currently used at URI and RIC -- and has been "helpful in improving student completion." (See full email below). 

"We believe they are doing it to increase the chances of RI Promise being successful," said Steven Murray, CCRIFA President, of focusing on those students in the new free college program.  "It is yet another example of politics under Governor Raimondo interfering with education for her political benefit and not having the best interests of our students in mind."

"They want to run courses (including developmental courses for our most at need students) during a condensed three week semester in January. Classes would meet 5 days a week for three hours per day," said Murray. "Our accreditation agency NEASC requires 2 hours of work outside the classroom for every hour in the classroom. This results in 45 hours of student work per course per week. Teachers who teach these courses tell us this is academically unsound and not in the best interest of our students. "

"The administration did not discuss this [J-term] with the faculty before implementing it and have presented no data or studies to support it," continued Murray. "URI and RIC may offer a J-Term, but their student population is very different than ours. Approximately 65% of our students enroll at CCRI needing to take remedial/developmental courses in English and Math."

"There should have been a thorough discussion with the stakeholders (faculty and staff) before President Hughes agreed to assist Governor Raimondo's political needs at the expense of what's best for our students," said Murray. "Our students should always come first, not politics."

CCRI Announcement

Costigan sent the email to faculty outlining the January Session: 

We are pleased to announce CCRI will launch a three-week session from January 2 to 19, in between the fall and spring semesters.

During this January Session, a variety of classes and times will be offered online and at the Knight Campus in Warwick. Many will be courses our students need to complete their General Education requirements.

This model is used by many colleges, including our sister institutions of RIC and URI, and has proven successful in helping improve student completion. Students can get ahead of their studies or stay on track for graduation in a condensed and flexible, yet comprehensive, format. The January Session will also be critically important for our Rhode Island Promise students, who must complete 30 credits per year to remain eligible for the scholarship.

Department chairs are currently working to identify appropriate, in-demand courses for our first January Session, and we encourage faculty members to contact your department chairs if you are interested in this unique overload opportunity.

We look forward to sharing more news about the January Session as we move through the fall semester.

CCRIFA Response

"As we welcome a greater number of students due to Rhode Island Promise, our focus should remain on quality education for all CCRI students. A “J-Term” for a few hundred students shifts that focus. Management never sought the professional recommendations or advice from faculty and staff. Instituting a “J-Term” with zero input from the very professionals who are educating CCRI’s students disregards the importance of communication and planning," said Murray in a statement, following CCRI's communication. 

"Every CCRI student enrolls believing their individual pursuit of a postsecondary education is a priority to the college. Faculty members, education support professionals, and staff work every day to ensure students are prepared with the skills and training necessary for well-paying employment. Communication among administration, faculty and staff is a crucial component to student success. If President Hughes was graded on her commitment to involving stakeholders in the process, she would receive a failing grade," said Murray. 

CCRIFA represents full-time faculty members at CCRI; the Faculty Association is a local affiliate of the state National Education Association-Rhode Island (NEARI) and the National Education Association (NEA).


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