Cumberland University, TN Innovative Step to Help Students Cope with Energy Costs

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Cumberland University, TN, US

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Type: Policy

Status: To begin in Fall 2008

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Beginning with the fall 2008 semester, in an effort to help students grapple with rising fuel costs while offering expanded academic assistance opportunities, Cumberland University will begin holding courses on-campus four days per week rather than the traditional five, according to University administrators.

"Beginning this September, traditional face-to-face classes will not be held on Wednesdays," CU President Dr. Harvill C. Eaton announced. "With no formal teaching responsibilities on those days, our faculty will instead make themselves available and advise students. In some cases, these engagements will be in person; in other cases, they will be by telephone, e-mail, text messaging or the Internet."

In order to compensate for the instructional hour lost by eliminating a day from the traditional Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, Eaton explained one-third of each three-credit-hour course will be delivered online.

"Many members of our faculty have become experts in internet course delivery thanks to their experience with our online academic programs," CU Vice President for Academics Dr. Wilbur "Pete" Peterson said. "Not only will this new plan help our commuters deal with the rising cost of fuel, but it will also fit well into today's society, which has become increasingly mobile."

"By offering additional academic enhancement opportunities each Wednesday, we feel our students only stand to gain from this innovative approach," Eaton added. "They'll still take part in all of the required coursework. They'll have an entire day open to meet with their respective professors, and they'll save a little gas money in the process."

With the average price of a gallon of gasoline quickly approaching the four-dollar mark in Tennessee and a recent statement by U.S. Energy Department spokesperson Guy Caruso that the price is expected to remain at $4 per gallon through 2009, Eaton said it was imperative that Cumberland take action.

Roughly two-thirds of Cumberland's student body is composed of commuters who regularly travel anywhere from five to 20 miles between their homes and the University's campus in Lebanon, he explained.

"Everyone is susceptible to the skyrocketing price of gasoline, particularly college students," Eaton said. "At Cumberland, we talk of being personal, of our willingness to go above and beyond to make certain our students' needs are addressed. We believe that taking a step such as this will demonstrate our concern for our students' welfare while helping prepare them to communicate responsibly in today's mobile society."