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Deans discuss seniors’ progress towards graduation

Madeline Buckley | Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Deans’ offices at the University leave nothing to chance when ensuring that the seniors’ fulfill all of their graduation requirements when they register for their last semester of classes.

Class registration for seniors began Monday, marking their last chance to take all the classes needed to graduate.

Samuel Gaglio, an assistant dean in the College of Business, said the Dean’s office does everything it can to make sure all students are on track for graduation. The deans require students to fill out a plan of study when they start the business major and they have to continue to update their plans periodically, he said.

“In January, we will check every senior’s schedule to see if their plan indicates they will graduate on time,” Gaglio said. “If by the off chance that a student has not completed a course, we send an e-mail to every students who is short.”

Then, prior to the 10th day of class in the spring semester, the office checks every senior’s schedule again to make sure they have not dropped a course needed for graduation, he said. If everything is in order, the students receive an e-mail confirming that they are eligible for graduation.

“A student should be responsible, but we don’t expect you to know everything we know, which is why we take all these extra steps,” Gaglio said. “We don’t leave it to chance.”

Gaglio said the office also does projections to figure out exactly how many students need certain classes at certain times to avoid timing conflicts or a lack of spots.

“We try to take care of you guys,” he said. “That’s what we are being paid for. That’s why we are here.”

Gaglio said he estimates that of the estimated 550 seniors in the College of Business each year, about 510 or 520 graduate. Most students that don’t graduate do so because they chose to take more time, he said. About 10 to 15 students have to complete their degree in summer school after senior year, but Gaglio said this rarely happens.

Gaglio said if students are having doubts about meeting requirements, they should come in as early as possible.

“I just wish students would come in sooner to ask questions so I don’t have such a long line at registration. I don’t like to make students wait,” he said.

“Then I can give you more time.”

Jennifer Nemecek, an assistant dean in the College of Arts and Letters, said the College encourages students to come in once every semester to make sure they are completing all their requirements and taking classes that will benefit their academic experience.

“If you get into the habit of seeing us every semester, as a senior, you shouldn’t have any problems,” she said. “For the most part, students are pretty resourceful.”

So far this year, the office has not encountered problems with seniors registering for the classes they need, Nemecek said.

Stuart Greene, Associate Dean for undergraduates in the College said only three students in the past two years have had to take summer school after senior year to receive their degree.

“Ideally we would have had zero, especially from the perspective of the one student who has to come back,” he said. “We are being proactive this year in making lists of students who have to still take requirements and contacting them.”

Greene said there are several reasons why students would have remaining requirements to fulfill senior year.

“Half a dozen students get to be seniors and didn’t take their college seminar or thought a course counted for their literature requirement, but it didn’t,” he said. “But we try every possible way to resolve it so the students can graduate.”

Steven Buechler, an associate dean in the College of Science said graduation progress is watched very carefully for the science majors.

“We know for instance how many biology majors haven’t completed an ecology requirement,” Buechler said. “Because we know the list of majors, the advisors keep track of what requirements haven’t been satisfied.”

Buechler said only about three or four students don’t complete the required classes before graduation and have to then take summer school or an extra semester.

“Of the students that I can think of who had a requirement remaining, it wasn’t because they couldn’t get into classes, it was because they failed a class and had to drop one and just couldn’t make it up it time,” he said.

The occasional problems that do come up concern students who have an additional major in another College, Buechler said. However, these students are usually accommodated without problems by the deans in the other Colleges.

“We offer a Science Business major where they have to take business classes, and Business is very good about accommodating our students, but we have to send them a list of students who need these classes to make sure they get in there,” he said.

Buechler said his advice to students is to check regularly with their advisors to make sure they are completing all the necessary requirements.

“If students take responsibility for their degrees and layout their plans with their advisor, there won’t be any trouble,” he said.

Cathy Pieronek, a dean in the College of Engineering, said there have been no problems registering seniors for required classes. The College tracks students’ progress before graduation in order to let students know which classes they still need to take, she said.

“We send [the students] an audit that we do manually every summer before their graduation, so the seniors got the audits in the summer.” Pieronek said. “Beyond that, the departments are responsible for working with seniors to make sure they complete their requirements.”

In the rare event that a student has to take summer school after senior year to receive their degree, Pieronek said it is usually because the student failed a class in the spring semester.

“If a class is full and we need to make room so a student can finish, we will do that,” she said. “But we do a really good job here of scheduling our classes in the first place so conflicts can’t occur.”