By Anand Venigalla
Assistant Features Editor
The State of the University address by President Kimberly Cline, originally scheduled for Feb. 5, and then rescheduled for March 19, has been cancelled.
Faculty and administrators were notified about the address, the rescheduled date, and then the cancellation, by email.
The email to CACD faculty and staff stated: “Dr. Cline will be delivering a State of the University Address on Monday, February 5th at 12:30 pm in the Hillwood Lecture Hall. Please encourage students to attend as well.” The address was then postponed to March 19. Yet an email on March 14 stated: “The State of the University Address scheduled for Monday, March 19th has been canceled.”
In response to the Pioneer’s inquiries about the address, President Cline said, “the event was not cancelled, as it was never scheduled.”
“Several weeks ago, we began having discussions about adding a second event [in addition to the fall convocation] to recognize student, faculty, and university achievements that occur during the academic year, in light of the many successes taking place on our campuses,” Cline said in her email response. “Major university events do not come together overnight, they take weeks to prepare, which is why several proposed dates were held on the calendar. However, as the conversation shaped, other university commitments took precedence,” she said.
Vincent Giordano, a freshman economics major, mathematics minor, and honors student, has his own theory about the cancellation of the address. “It is possible that this may have been due to controversy surrounding the new credit policy. Many students on campus have become frustrated with the rollout and implementation of the new cap,” Giordano said. The newly announced cap provides that students who take more than eighteen credits, beginning in fall 2018, will be charged $1,000 extra for every credit they add.
“I recently joined a group of students who have begun lobbying against it,” Giordano said. “Many of us are concerned that we will now experience significant hurdles in making our schedules in the future, especially the performing arts students.” Many performing arts students take 20 or more credits, and do so to ensure that they have competitive resumés and qualifications upon graduation, he said.
“We are also concerned about degree completion,” Giordano said. While it is possible to complete most, if not all undergraduate degrees with a minimum of 15 credits per semester, often times classes fill up quickly during registration periods and students may have to forego taking degree requirements during certain semesters, meaning that they must double or even triple up during others.
Not every course is three credits, so the new policy presents a risk of exceeding the new cap of 18 credits. “Many science and mathematics majors, who usually carry courses with more than three credits, may run into roadblocks as well. There are many other concerns as well that have been brought to our attention,” he said.
Giordano does not know whether the cancellation of the university address was connected to the new policy. “I caution against rushing to a conclusion without enough solid information. While it may be possible that there is a link, it is also entirely possible that the President chose to call off the event for other unspecified and pertinent reasons. If it was cancelled because of the controversy, then my hope is that the administration is reviewing the new policy and rethinking it,” Giordano said.
Students may nonetheless protest the new 18 credit cap. “Our group has been active in planning organized, peaceful opposition [to the 18 credit cap] in general, so it is logical to assume that some form of protest may take place,” Giordano said.
This modification to the credit policy was made to follow best academic practices and to provide a reasonable track for students to graduate in four years, according to President Cline. “For example, the university’s degree requirement was recently reduced to 120 credits. This change reduces student costs and time to graduate, with an average reduction of eight to nine credits. LIU is committed to keeping tuition affordable, limiting increases to 2 percent a year, significantly below the national average,” she said.
Giordano emphasized that his efforts to oppose the new credit cap have been peaceful. “My main objective is to provide a rational frame-work that will serve as a platform to voice students’ concerns. I have begun to write a list of grievances and concerns, inviting all members of the group to add, revise and provide individual testimony. When we complete the review and revision process, my plan is for members to submit it to their fellow students, professors and deans, with the goal of fostering discussion on this critical issue,” he said.
“The most important underlying goal should be to have clear and open communication between the student body, the faculty and the administration, in order to bring about decisive change and, most importantly, compromise if necessary,” Giordano said. Giordano is working on a list of solutions that he will present to the administration.