January term, or J-term, has been an MVNU tradition since 1975, allowing countless students to experience life-changing travel.
But the University will eliminate J-term from the academic calendar beginning next school year.
The biggest reason to cut J-term was financial. Officials estimate it will save the University about $70,000 a year.
That’s not to say that the decision-making process was easy. However, “the pros outweighed the cons,” MVNU President Dr. Henry Spaulding said.
The impact for students, besides the loss of January travel, mostly will be felt in response to the changes in the University’s academic calendar.
For next year, spring semester will begin Jan. 11 and end April 29, with graduation following on April 30. A two-week spring break will run from Feb. 29 through March 11.
The University plans to use the extended spring break for some of the travel options formerly offered in J-term. But, “we know certain trips won’t work out as well,” Spaulding acknowledged.
So far, there are no plans to offer longer trips in a May term at the end of the semester.
The earlier end to the semester also allows students a head start on summer work, or could give them an advantage in finding a job after graduation.
Another change for students will be an increase in the number of credit hours they may take each semester.
Beginning next fall, the standard load will be 18 hours per semester.
This shift to a traditional semester schedule “will not slow students down,” from graduating on time, said Dr. Barney Cochran, vice president of Academic Affairs.
To help ensure on-time graduation, the University has reduced total hours required for graduation from 124 to 120.
“We are committed to graduating students in four years or less,” Cochran said.
Another reason for change was “pedagogical:” while J-term offered travel courses, it offered limited course options to those staying on campus. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Barney Cochran added that there were several courses offered that were not appropriately structured for a one-month session.
“What resulted were courses that were really too reading or research intensive or too technical or otherwise just poorly adapted to the J-term,” Cochran said.
The new academic calendar will now include two weeks of spring break and 18 credit semesters, instead of 16. Cutting out J-term will allow for an earlier summer and longer spring break to accommodate “new experiences”.
As you can imagine, Dr. Cronk is sad to see old J-term experiences go.
“The loss of J-term is the death of a very dear friend, the death of a very meaningful experience,” he lamented.
However, while he does grieve the loss of J-term, he offers up a “prayer of thanksgiving to God that I have been allowed to participate in the wonderful journey of J-term for the past thirty years.”
Photo by Tent Chivatanaporn: Luke McCusker, Annemarie DiCamillo and Mikey McPherson dip their toes into the hot springs in Greece.
Photos by Amanda Taylor, Abigal Fuson and Tent Chivatanaporn.