The Pasadena City College board of trustees voted to approve a significant change to the academic calendar, against the wishes of the PCC Faculty Association. During their Oct. 21 meeting, trustees unanimously agreed to eliminate the winter intersession and add a second summer session beginning with the 2021-2022 academic year.
The 2022 spring semester will begin Jan. 10 and end May 8. The first session of summer 2022 will begin May 12, followed by the second summer session June 27.
This alteration of the academic calendar has been contentious for the Faculty Association, who claim that not being consulted about the change constitutes a violation of labor laws.
The only public comment was presented in written form by the president of the Pasadena City College Faculty Association, Mark Whitworth.
“The Faculty Association is prepared to protect the faculty’s right in this process,” said Whitworth. “The proposed calendar has been soundly rejected by both the PCC faculty and the PCC student body.”
During the meeting, PCC Superintendent/President Dr. Erika Endrijonas stood by the process of how the changes were made.
“It went through our established process. The calendar committee studied this from numerous directions. And then this calendar passed and was sent to the college council and it passed there, and the recommendation was made to me to recommend to the board,” said Endrijonas. “So, it has gone through the established process of identifying and approving an academic calendar for Pasadena City College.”
Assistant Superintendent/Vice President Terry Giugni, the co-chair of the Calendar Committee, bolstered Endrijonas’ statement.
“This conversation has actually been going on for quite a while. There were a number of presentations that happened at Academic Senate, and conversations about it,” said Giugni. “There were surveys that were sent out, there were various pieces of data that were collected and looked at, and so it’s not something that’s happened very quickly.”
Academic Senate president Matt Henes indicated that the Senate was offered “collegial consultation” by the administration, but the Senate’s majority was not in favor of the change.
“There were a couple of conversations in the Senate during fall 2019 and early spring of 2020. There were arguments presented on both sides of the winter issue,” Henes said. “When the item was on the agenda for a vote, nobody engaged in any conversation, and the vote to preserve winter was approved 16-12. Faculty were also surveyed, though not about retaining winter in particular.”
The Faculty Association’s public comment is at odds with the board’s position.
“Through every step of the process, including numerous surveys, the faculty has rejected the proposed calendar and their input has been completely ignored by the administration,” said Whitworth.
During the meeting, Endrijonas emphasized that the late end of the spring session had caused many students to lose their opportunities for internships, and also offered an example of students from the natural sciences being forced to choose between final exams and internships.
“Because our current calendar ends so late into the middle of June, by the time our students finish their spring classes, many of the internship opportunities have passed,” said Endrijonas. “Students literally choosing to walk away from their spring final exams, rather than losing internship opportunities.”
Despite the internship opportunities example, the winter session is crucial to many transfer students.
“I would like to see that the college pushes on scheduling more late-start STEM courses in both fall and spring,” said student trustee David Ramirez. “Because life happens with students, especially students that are transferring, and a lot of students have relied on winter and having that sort of cushion in case they drop courses and they get a second chance to take those courses again,” Ramirez said. “And so, I think it’s important to recognize those students specifically that rely on winter to transfer.”
During the discussion on the issue, Giugni declared the importance of approval from the board of trustees immediately, and the discussion didn’t last long.
“If you don’t approve this calendar tonight, if you wait much longer, the Office of Instruction will have troubles, because we need to start scheduling fall of 2021 fairly soon,” said Giugni.
As a result, the board of trustees’ vote was 7-0 in favor of the new calendar with student trustee voting aye. The new academic calendar will proceed for at least three years, to gather data on how the alteration will affect the success rate of students.
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