Senate withholds support on 10-semester limit

Rachel Burkhart

The Senate of College Councils voted unanimously Thursday to not support a task force recommendation that would impose a 10-semester limit on students pursuing most undergraduate degrees.

In December, the Second Task Force on Enrollment Strategy was charged with finding ways to improve the University’s graduation rate. The task force presented its recommendations to President William Powers Jr. in February. The University currently has no policy regarding the number of semesters a student may take to complete a degree.

The average time for degree completion at the University is eight and a half semesters whereas the national average is only eight semesters, according to the 2003 report. The University’s six-year graduation rate of 70.5 percent is equivalent to the four-year graduation rate of its best competitors, according to the Senate resolution.

Lauren Ratliff, president of the Senate, co-authored the resolution that was voted on Thursday with Senate Policy Director Drew Finke and Curriculum Committee Chair David Liu. She said most of the resolution’s language was generated by presidents of the University’s 19 college councils.

“We acknowledge that there’s a problem with the graduate rates at UT,” she said. “But we don’t think that a strict punitive rule is the best way of addressing that issue.”

The task force recommended that all students meet with an adviser at least once per semester, but Ratliff said the University does not have enough resources to fulfill the mandate.

The resolution asked for clarification regarding the appeal process, expectations for student progress and options for corrective action.

“This is a good initial response,” Ratliff said. “We’re going to follow this up by asking more specific questions and putting pressure on the provost’s office to really address these questions.”

The Senate of College Councils supported all of the task force’s other recommendations, including those on maintaining the student-faculty ratio and reviewing the financial aid application process.