TURLOCK -- In 1973, California State College, Stanislaus, implemented a new schedule to boost enrollment and attract more students. It included a winter term, which offered the chance to explore new fields or study overseas.
Monday, the university announced the end of winter term, effective in the 2010-11 school year. The campus will move from its 13-week fall and spring semesters and four-week winter term to two 15-week semesters and an "intersession."
Although he said it will save California State University, Stanislaus, an estimated $1.2 million, President Ham Shirvani said the move was not solely motivated by money.
"This is basically normalizing the campus," he said. The new schedule calls for replacing winter term with the nearly three-week intersession in January 2011.
Shirvani said it's not clear what classes will be offered during intersession, but they will take place through the university's extended education program. Because fees for self-supporting extended education classes are more expensive than traditional college courses, an intersession class might be beyond the reach of a low-income student. The school will let such students take classes at the lower fee, Shirvani said.
"We might not make a lot of money (on intersession)," Shirvani said. "But it won't cost more."
Students who receive federal Pell grants and don't take winter session classes will find themselves with about $1,000 more, he said. That's because the grants are awarded on a 30-week school year. The 26-week CSU Stanislaus school year led to lower payouts, which will increase under the new schedule.
According to Diana Heredia, president of Associated Students at Stanislaus, less than half of the university's 6,800 full-time students take classes over the winter term.
"The new intersession will allow students to take full advantage of their financial aid packages during the fall and spring semesters, and will also provide opportunities for additional classes," Heredia said in a university-issued news release.
Not everybody sees it that way.
Accounting Professor Stephen Filling, the tenure-track faculty representative for the university's chapter of the California Faculty Association, cited a survey that showed more than 80 percent of students use winter term, even if they don't take classes.
"For some of our students, it's a chance to go and work and earn enough money (so) they can pay for spring" semester, Filling said. And students who could take two classes during winter term won't be able to do that with the condensed intersession.
Moving that additional class into the spring or fall semester brings its own hardship, Filling said. "They don't have another eight hours a week to spend on homework for a class."
Filling said the winter session offered students a chance to concentrate on a troublesome course or try another field of study. A flier on the CSU, Stanislaus, Web site advertises language, literature and history classes in Cuernavaca, Mexico, this January.
But Shirvani maintains that the winter term is expensive and impractical, and opportunities still will be available with the new intersession.
The campus, like the rest of the state university system, has been struggling with a tough budget and finding ways to do more with less as the state cuts funding. After several years of increasing enrollment, Stanislaus has had to lower the number of students it serves this year and next.
With the elimination of winter term, the university will save money through faculty salaries -- the classes will pay for them -- and staff time that won't be spent altering course calendars to fit Stanislaus' singular schedule.
"It's a substantial amount of money," Shirvani said.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.