May 17, 2000
As we enter the twenty-first century, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University seek to be considered among the finest liberal arts institutions in the Midwest. Our primary goal is academic excellence. On February 25, 2000, the CSB/SJU faculty voted to eliminate the three-week J-term from the academic calendar and replace it with a more standard two-semester system. The vote came at the end of a 17-month study by the Curricular and Strategic Planning Committee.
J-term began in a different cultural and educational milieu ' the late 1960's. Colleges in those days were looking for ways to make their curricula more "relevant" to students. J-term provided an opportunity for faculty to offer fun and creative courses that would not ordinarily fit into a college curriculum. J-term courses granted no academic credit. Faculty members could teach a course based on an avocation or hobby and students could take courses far outside their major without concern about grades.
However, J-term evolved. Some departments began using J-term to offer required courses. As the core curriculum and major requirements grew, courses became credit bearing. This posed a variety of challenges. Many faculty and students remained committed to the kind of program
J-term used to be ' a non-traditional, creative, even adventurous, learning experience. Some of the most popular J-term courses, including those built around trips to other states and countries, fit this model. However, as academic standards became more rigorous, some of these two-credit courses no longer qualified for core credit or to fulfill major requirements in competition with four credit courses. The standards changed, not the courses.
Considerations such as these led the Curricular and Strategic Planning Committee to conclude last fall that the status quo was no longer acceptable to most faculty. A faculty vote on February 25th confirmed it and the administration accepted the faculty recommendation.
Therefore, beginning with the 2001-2002 academic year, the colleges will no longer offer J-term. Plans are already underway to implement new programs during the two semesters of the academic year to accommodate students seeking study abroad or other off-campus internships and field experience opportunities. Additional programs beyond what we currently offer are already planned for Ireland, England, Australia and South Africa, for 2001-2002 and after. The 2001-2002 academic catalog will be a one-year edition. The 2001-2003 catalog will reflect the recent changes.
Mary Lyons Br. Dietrich Reinhart
College of Saint Benedict Saint John's University