Many students enrolled at the only community college on island will have to wait four weeks more before they can start attending their classes following information that some courses and programs will be delayed due to the lack of instructors.
Based on the Northern Marianas College website, yesterday was supposed to be the first day of instructional classes for all fall 2013 programs and courses. The last day of instruction for the semester is slated for Dec. 6.
Barbara Merfalen, dean of Academic Programs and Services, confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that about 20 percent of fall 2013 courses will have a new start date of Sept. 16—almost a month later than the scheduled opening yesterday.
The decision to postpone, Saipan Tribune learned, is so that all courses “are aligned with specialized degrees” pursuant to the new policy adopted by the Board of Regents.
“The college requires additional time to complete the hiring process for new instructors who meet the minimum qualifications policy that was approved earlier this month,” according to Merfalen.
The new policy adopted early this month mandates a minimum qualification for instructional faculty members. A third of about 27 faculty members failed to meet the qualifications required by the new policy. Affected faculty members were told they may be transferred to other areas of operation where their services are needed.
Merfalen said the postponement “will provide the college an opportunity to offer additional courses and sections that will help students meet their degree requirements.”
Also, she said, students who have not registered for classes will be given additional time to do so.
“The postponement of courses allows the college additional time and flexibility to recruit and hire full time and adjunct instructors. It also provides students additional time to register for these classes since registration for classes has also been extended,” said Merfalen.
Although the start of some courses will be postponed, Merfalen said that the minimum required contact hours will not be affected. Contact hours refer to the amount of time that a student spends interacting directly with a faculty in the classroom.
Merfalen said she will work closely with department chairs and instructors to ensure that each class meets the required contact hours and to communicate that expectation to the students.
Saipan Tribune learned that NMC offers 23 courses and 49 classes/sections this fall semester.
‘Over 1K so far enrolled’
As of Friday last week, NMC had a total of 1,119 full time enrollees. This figure is expected to change during the “add/drop week” when students add courses or remove them from their class schedules.
According to Student Services dean Leo Pangelinan, the registration for fall 2013 will be extended so students who are interested in registering for NMC courses that begin the week of Aug. 19-23 must submit an admission application form and take the English and math placement tests by Aug. 22.
For students who want to register for the delayed courses that begin the week of Sept. 16-20, they must submit an admission application form and take the English and math placement tests by Sept. 12.
In last week’s interview with Charlotte Cepeda, director for School of Education, she disclosed that her department is among those that will not be impacted by the shortfall of instructors this semester as everybody possesses the needed specialization.
The School of Education has five instructors, excluding its department chairperson.
During last week’s news briefing, NMC president Sharon Y. Hart, Ph.D., also expressed optimism that they will be able to fill all vacant posts at the college.
“We’ve been trying to work with all the affected employees and we’re working very hard to fill all [faculty] posts,” Hart said.