As the University of Nevada, Reno, expands, a vision plan has been in production by the Board of Regents. The plan outlines goals of the university in a given amount of time.

The Strategic Plan released in December 2014 outlines the vision for the university, from 2015 to 2021. One goal outlined, among others, was the evaluation of the possibility of moving the university to a trimester system.  

The plan outlined the hope that a trimester system would make graduation more timely. The summer session — the classes that take place from May to August — would be considered the third trimester.

The report was to be completed by June 30, 2016.

The Strategic Plan outlines three major goals: learning, discovery and engagement. The evaluation of moving to a trimester system fell under the learning category in the fourth goal. 

The fourth goal is to “offer a broad array of choices for instructional format, location, and schedule, including study-abroad opportunities.” Other than the evaluation of a trimester system, the Board of Regents is aiming to increase online courses offered, increase online degree programs offered and increase the percentage of students who study abroad.

While outlined in the Strategic Plan, the university does not have plans to move to a trimester model.

“In 2014 we appointed a committee to explore the benefits and challenges of a trimester model,” Provost Kevin Carman said. “It was determined that a trimester system presented many challenges for the university and students and that we would not pursue it further for the immediate future.”

It was clear to the university that a trimester model proved more challenges than benefits. Challenges included lack of formulas for funding and time conflicts, among others.

“The challenges that we identified are typical of other universities and are why very few US universities have adopted a trimester model,” Carman said. “The state doesn’t provide formula funding for summer classes.  Thus, treating the summer as a third semester would be a financial challenge for the university. Faculty and graduate students traditionally conduct research during the summer. Providing a third semester would present challenges for our aspirations of being recognized as a R1 university. Student financial aid is based on the traditional two-semester system.”

While most colleges and universities utilize the semester model, some have adapted a quarter system. Examples of schools that use the quarter system are the Universities of California (UCs), Stanford University and Northwestern University.

However, this model was never considered for adoption at the university.

“Conversion to a quarter system was never under consideration,” Carman said.

Olivia Ali can be reached at oali@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @OliviaNAli.