Campus College Debates New Professional Fee

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In a collective effort to air concerns about a proposed professional degree fee, roughly 140 graduate students at UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design met with Dean Jennifer Wolch in a town hall meeting Thursday night.

The meeting, suggested by Wolch and attended by students from a range of the college's departments, was held in order to discuss the proposed $6,000 professional degree fee for 2010-11 year that could be approved Nov. 19 by the UC Board of Regents.

Like the School of Social Welfare and the School of Information, the College of Environmental Design may impose a professional degree fee for the first time to help maintain the quality and competitiveness of its programs.

If the proposed fee is approved, students pursuing degrees in professional masters' programs will pay the yearly $6,000 fee beginning fall 2010, in addition to regular student fees.

At the town hall, Wolch was joined by Assistant Dean Jan Miller, former Dean Harrison Fraker and former interim dean Sam Davis to address student questions concerning the proposed fee. At times, students expressed frustration with some of the panel's answers.

Some graduate students met for an hour prior to the town hall meeting to discuss their concerns as a group and to form a general consensus on what they would ask Wolch.

At the town hall, students presented a letter signed by 230 graduate students, which represents roughly two-thirds of the college's graduate students, according to Catherine Sherraden, a landscape architecture graduate student who helped draft the letter.

A common concern among students was the lack of student input for increasing the proposed amount from $4,000 last spring to $6,000.

Before the town hall, the proposed fee had not been formally discussed with students since spring 2008.

Wolch said that at the start of this fall, the college was given short notice to get a professional fee proposal to the UC Office of the President that would help address the college's budgetary issues.

"There was no ability to have a deliberatory process with students," she said.

Master of Architecture graduate student John McGill said he appreciates Wolch's efforts in clearing up misunderstandings about the proposed fee.

"She definitely wants to hear student opinions," McGill said.

Tags: COLLEGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN, DIFFERENTIAL FEES


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]



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