Arturo de Lozanne

The College of Natural Sciences will be offering about one-third fewer courses in summer 2015, according to the college's dean, Linda Hicke.

Last week, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost announced that it is cutting the Summer Enhancement Program, which was designed to expand and improve summer course offerings of colleges at the University.

“After several years it became clear that the program did not have the desired campus-wide impact and it has been discontinued,” Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, said in a statement. “We are looking into alternative solutions to enhancing the instructional budget that better meet the needs of our students and achieving our goals for graduation rates.”

Fenves said colleges may still continue to fund their own summer courses necessary to support their degree plans, but budget constraints may make this a challenge. Hicke said enrollment in the College of Natural Sciences has increased about 25 percent over the last six or seven years, while the amount of money in the college’s budget has remained the same.

“It is a challenge to change those budgets when enrollment increases significantly,” Hicke said.

She said shifts in college budgets usually occur when there are significant changes in population, but it takes time to receive more funding to reflect the population growth. Hicke said cutting the amount of summer courses should not impact graduation rates.

“We are being as efficient as possible across the entire college; we make every effort to have classes available for students to graduate on time,” Hicke said.

Arturo De Lozanne, molecular biosciences associate professor, said he thinks decreasing the number of courses offered during the summer semester will make it harder for students to graduate on time.

“Some students have to take courses in the summer in order to be able to complete their degrees,” De Lozanne said. “That means, if a student cannot take those courses, they will have to wait and register for the long semester and therefore delay their graduation.”

Biochemistry senior Kathryn McElhinney said she thinks many students use the summer as an opportunity to take fewer, more difficult courses.

“A lot of students take those more difficult courses over the summer so they don’t have to try and balance five courses along with this really hard subject,” McElhinney said. “Instead, they can dedicate all their time trying to study it.”

The cuts could potentially decrease the number of teaching assistant positions, according to De Lozanne.

“I was very puzzled by it because it seems very clear that it will affect many students — not only undergraduate students but also graduate students — because that means fewer graduate students will have TA positions in the summer,” De Lozanne said.

The Board of Regents honored 26 faculty members on Aug. 23 with the Outstanding Teaching Award. The honorees were selected from three categories of faculty — contingent, tenure-track and tenure — and given a combined total of $1.6 million, making this award one of the largest in the nation.

Biology professor Arturo de Lozanne, one of the 26 recipients, said he was pleased to be nominated for the award by his peers.

“Some colleagues of mine have received this award in previous years, so I knew about it,” de Lozanne said. “It was one of those things that you can kind of strive for in kind of making a mark in the University.”

Once the faculty members are nominated, they undergo an extensive application process. This includes submitting a portfolio of work that is capped at 150 pages. Professors must also submit a statement of teaching philosophy, as well as multiple student and coworker evaluations.

Karen Adler, the assistant director of Public Affairs for the UT System, said she felt the amount of work included in submissions for the award was appropriate, given its reputation.

“The reason it’s a lot is because it’s such a prestigious award,” Adler said. “It’s the best of the best that’s why the standards seem so high.”

Kathryn Dawson, a theater and dance assistant professor who also received the award, said she has honed her teaching skills by working at multiple levels for the University.

“I started out as an adjunct, and then a lecturer, and then a clinical assistant professor,” Dawson said. “Now I’m an assistant professor, so in an exciting way, I’ve had the opportunity to sit in each of those places and see the importance of teaching in all of them. I think teaching is a constant for all those folks, ideally.”

Dawson said she plans to start college funds for her two children with her monetary award but said she also wants to splurge.

“Maybe a pair of college boots,” Dawson said. “I’ve been in Texas for 10 years and don’t own a pair.”