By Crystal Atamian
After a four-month suspension of operations, the UC Davis Experimental College is now open for spring classes. Classes begin Monday.
The Experimental College website, https://ecollege.ucdavis.edu, went live Tuesday so students and community members may register for classes, said Associated Students of UCD business manager Janice Corbett.
The Experimental College is dependent on the website to reach new students. From this point forward, course registration, which previously was in-person, will take place via the website as well.
On Dec. 5, the Experimental College operations were suspended due to fiscal concerns. With reserves at a low point, the EC made changes in the fall that would ensure its financial solvency in the coming year, but those changes came too late to prevent the unit’s suspension.
In mid-January, the ASUCD Senate established a task force to develop a plan for reinstating Experimental College courses. On March 11, ASUCD legislation reinstated courses for the spring quarter, but at a much reduced level.
Thirty instructors offered classes during the fall quarter as compared to the 10 who will teach in the upcoming quarter. Instructors were required to secure pledges from students interested in taking courses this spring in order to prove fiscal viability for the EC’s continued operation.
According to Rick Schubert, who chairs the Experimental College Instructors Advisory Board, the decline in EC enrollment has had a clear source: inadequate marketing.
“Undergraduates who arrive at UCD know to look for a coffee house, or a bus or a newspaper — all ASUCD units. But Experimental Colleges are rare,” he said. “So in the absence of adequate advertising, to which a functioning website is crucial these days, the EC became UCD’s best-kept secret.”
The Experimental College didn’t have a fully functioning site on which prospective EC students could find course information and register online until late fall 2013.
In spite of these challenges, the remaining Experimental College instructors remain optimistic.
Donnelle Yoshino, who teaches social dance, hopes the EC will return to a thriving community very soon.
“Hopefully, we can take advantage of all the advances in technology to make students aware of the great classes available through the EC,” Yoshino said. “I am also looking forward to a much closer relationship with ASUCD.”
Alka Khurana believes the changes made last fall will have a positive impact on the unit’s operations.
“Because of increased involvement of instructors in EC operations, I foresee better management and expansion of the classes,” said Khurana, who will teach a meditation class this spring. “I think we need to strengthen our marketing efforts to promote the classes, and also we may involve some students to create awareness at campus.”
Schubert teaches hapkido, which has been one of the EC’s most successful classes to date. He is hopeful that the EC can weather this storm if given the opportunity.
“The EC did extraordinarily well for 42 of its 47 years so far,” he said. “And I firmly believe it can do well for at least another four decades. What it offers is as important as ever: a holistic approach to education, the opportunity for undergraduates to exert more direct control over what they learn, and a community that supports student success by building non-hierarchal relationships among undergrads, grad students, faculty, staff and members of the broader community.”
The Experimental College director is required to report its enrollments and revenue to the ASUCD Senate two weeks after the start of EC classes. This will determine whether ASUCD chooses to continue to allow the unit to operate.
For spring quarter, the Experimental College is offering Tai Chi 1, Tai Chi Advanced, Xingyi and Baguazhang, Hapkido, Hapkido Advanced, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Lindy Hop, Fencing, Beginning Social Dance, Continuing/Intermediate Social Dance and Learn to Meditate classes. Check the website, as offerings may change.