From Self-Supported to State-Supported Administration of Summer Programs: The California State University's Conversion to Year Round Education

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Published studies of administrative and organizational models for summer sessions are minimal and yield equivocal results regarding organizational advantages and effectiveness of management practices when comparing self-support and state-supported summer schools. More typical are historical and recent studies that conceptualize the effectiveness of organizational structures defined as centralized or decentralized. While definitions vary, centralized models typically are defined as self-funded summer terms administered by an autonomous summer session office. Decentralized organizational structures are generally described as a more distributive model in which summer term functions are performed by various collegiate units with dispersed accountability and generally are state-funded. Hybrid organizational models are also described in the literature. These hybrid models typically are structured as centralized administration with decentralized academic functions.

A few recent examples follow: Martin (2003) summarized various myths associated with summer education and described the role of summer term as a catalyst for change, concluding that self-supported, revenue-sharing models have the highest success for attracting students and faculty--attributed primarily to an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. Heikel (2000) studied the program effectiveness in centralized vs. decentralized administrative structures at four-year U.S. public research and doctoral institutions. Among the results were the conclusions that decentralized summer sessions were rated as less financially successful and more often found at larger universities while centralized models were rated as more successful in meeting student needs, more administratively efficient, and typically found at smaller universities. Funding models were highly varied ranging from self-generated income to allocation of funds to other permutations, but in general the self-support model was typical for centralized programs while decentralized programs were more reliant on funding allocations. Although data indicate a general ten-year trend for an increased number of decentralized programs, the change is slight, with the largest number of summer sessions continuing to be described as a centralized organizational structure. In studying the fiscal practices of doctoral research universities for characteristics of operating budgets, Johnson (2000) found that 57% of the universities used an allocation model, 38% were funded by self-generated income, and 5% used a decentralized approach in which revenue was directed to the college unit responsible for its generation.

Earlier studies by Young and McDougall (1985 and 1982) of both U.S. and Canadian institutions of higher education provided data about regional universities, master's only, and land grant universities. Their data of organizational structures, productivity measures, program creativity, leadership, and finance yielded significant differences associated with institutional size, among other demographic variables. Young and McDougall's 1991 study also provided normative information about summer session baseline data derived from one regional and four national studies and serves as a resource for the historical development, trends, issues, and evaluations of summer sessions. Saville and Master's (1989) survey of operational characteristics of summer programs at 107 U.S. land grant colleges and 15 private universities yielded mixed results regarding organizational advantages and management practices in comparing self-supporting and state-supported summer schools.

Heikel (2000) recommends that summer sessions be administratively centralized and programmatically decentralized. This hybrid model provides for curricular decisions and programmatic quality to be monitored by faculty, thereby controlling the curriculum, teaching faculty, student enrollments, and revenue sharing. It also allows for efficient administrative operations by an extended education or summer term office, providing fiscal efficacy and managerial efficiency. …