Starting Dec. 7, 2020, and running through Jan. 15, 2021, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will offer 10 remote-learning classes in Pitt’s first-ever winter session. Open to students from all Pitt campuses and taught in an asynchronous format, the classes aim to keep students engaged over an extended winter recess. Enrollment began on Nov. 16.
“When we learned that the winter break would be extended, we started brainstorming how we might use the long period of time to our students’ benefit,” said Pitt-Greensburg President Robert Gregerson.
The idea for the winter session came from conversations Gregerson had with Jackie Horrall and Frank Wilson, vice president and assistant vice president, respectively, of academic affairs.
Making these classes available to any Pitt student was an important part of the discussion.
“The hope was to create greater enrollment for classes and make opportunities available to all students,” said Gregerson. “These classes give students the opportunity to catch up or get ahead if they need to add to their existing coursework, or perhaps a course taken during winter will allow them to have a lighter load in the spring semester.”
Students interested in winter session courses should contact their academic advisor to discuss registration options. The courses offered are:
- Public Speaking
- English Composition 2
- Studio Arts
- Introduction to Wellness
- Decision-Making with Excel
- Natural Science 1
- Introduction to Sociology
- American Politics
- Introduction to Psychology
“I was worried about some of my classes being more difficult, but completing a class during the break will allow me to focus better on the ones I’m concerned about,” said Khanh Tran, a first-year marketing major at Pitt-Greensburg who plans to take English Composition 2 during the winter session. “I think for other students it’s also a good option if they need to fill a specific requirement but can’t fit it into their spring schedules.”
Student success in mind
“The winter session was developed with student success in mind,” said Beth Tiedemann, director of academic advising and registrar at Pitt-Greensburg. In her role, Tiedemann talks with all students who request to take more than 18 credits during a single term, usually to accommodate a course with a lab component.
“This is an innovative approach that can help students get ahead in credits and spread out their credit load,” said Tiedemann, who worked with the Offices of the University Registrar and Admissions and Financial Aid at the Pittsburgh campus to implement the necessary technology infrastructure in programs like PeopleSoft.
While Tiedemann worked on the logistical side, Horrall coordinated with Pitt-Greensburg division chairs and the Office of the Provost in Pittsburgh to determine which courses could be offered. Classes will begin Monday, Dec. 7, and include courses in public speaking, studio arts, American politics and introductions to subjects like wellness, sociology and psychology.
Interested students are encouraged to contact their academic advisors to discuss their options. Students wishing to certify GI Bill benefits for the winter session must contact their assigned School Certifying Official prior to enrolling in classes.
Collaboration across campuses
Both Tiedemann and Horrall expressed gratitude for support provided by the Pittsburgh campus.
“The effort that the folks in Pittsburgh put in to make this happen was phenomenal,” said Horrall. “People from across multiple campuses came together to make this happen. They sought information on our behalf and provided us with great support to help us work through the logistics.”
"As we continue to navigate the pandemic, collaboration and innovation have become more important than ever. This new effort has been a wonderful opportunity to leverage expertise across campuses to increase the flexibility that we can offer our students as they work to achieve their academic goals. This is one more example of how we can learn from the past and continue to improve so that, ultimately, we further enhance our mission of academic excellence," said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Joseph J. McCarthy.
“We’ve all had to find new ways to do things and think creatively. The things that seem set in stone get looked at with fresh eyes,” said Tiedemann. “To me I saw both things I like about being at a regional campus. Because we’re small and a lot of offices do lots of different things, we have the benefit of seeing how the pieces fit together but we needed the expertise of the Pittsburgh campus to make it happen. We’re so grateful for that, and we’re trending toward a lot more collaboration with the Pittsburgh campus.”