A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Summer Session Gets Boost from New Associate Director

April 23, 2013

While Tammy Johnson is new to her position and lengthy title, she isn’t new to the campus. Johnson joined UC Merced in 2005 as manager of Instructional Support for the School of Natural Sciences. She has seen the campus grow from several buildings under construction into an impressive research university that makes her extremely proud.

While she loved working with faculty and staff in Natural Sciences, when the associate director for Summer Session and UC Online Education associate director for Academic Operations and Records position came available she felt a strong calling to apply. She assumed her new role in November and looks forward to the challenges and opportunities.

Please explain what your job entails.

My No. 1 task is to build UC Merced’s Summer Session to meet the needs of the students. Summer isn’t part of the regular academic year planning cycle. It has a different support model from fall and spring semesters, so it needs some extra coordination. Previous summer sessions have happened because dedicated staff in the schools and the Office of the Registrar came together to make sure classes were offered. My job is to provide some structure for the summer planning process and to work with the schools, programs and faculty to improve summer offerings and to develop new and exciting summer opportunities for students. The second part of my job is to provide enrollment management support for University of California Online (UCOE).    

What did you do before coming to UC Merced?

I worked for the Life Sciences Core Curriculum Office at UCLA — an interdisciplinary program under the dean of life sciences. Many majors across the sciences and all pre-professional students took LS 1, 2, 3 and 4 either as prep for their major or to fulfill professional school requirements. We were a one-stop shop for those courses. I worked with students helping them with enrollment issues and all sorts of course-related logistical issues (traveling for sports, special proctoring needs, absence clearances, alternate exam arrangements, etc.). I did scheduling, textbook ordering, library reserve coordination, course planning, TA assignments and TA coordination. I’ve copied more course handouts and exams than I can even imagine.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face?

Space is a big challenge for summer like it is in the regular academic year. There are competing priorities for space in the summer and my first priority is to try to build the best combinations of offerings for students without forgetting the needs of other groups. That was the reason for the addition of Session C to Summer 2013. Session C is all about providing access to a year’s worth of course sequence to students in a single summer, while providing more flexibility to students and instructors. Another challenge is finding enough financial aid for students. Most campuses cap the return to financial aid between 30 to 33 percent of revenue; however, UC Merced gives 40 percent of the gross revenue generated by summer session back to students in the form of financial aid. That’s not loans — it’s grants that don’t have to be repaid. For UCOE, the challenge is working on a UC systemwide project to build something from the ground up that benefits all campuses and students.

What new initiatives are you looking forward to in the new academic year?

I’m looking forward to working with the schools and programs to streamline the planning process for summer. I’m also looking forward to working with the campus community to build more programs. I’ve been very lucky enough to work with Belinda Braunstein, English Language Institute coordinator with the CRTE, to help with the Summer Bridge program for incoming students. I would love to build upon the fantastic work she has done with Summer Bridge to create a summer program open to all incoming freshmen to help them get ahead or help them start their fall semester in all college level coursework. The exciting thing coming down the pipe for UCOE is an initiative to improve the cross campus enrollment process for UCOE courses. The goal is to make it easy for a matriculated student on any UC campus to enroll in and take an online class offered at another UC campus. The process for cross-campus enrollment can be difficult to navigate and it’s different from campus to campus and we aim to improve it for students.

What are some of the most rewarding things about your job?

Being a part of the growth of UC Merced is incredibly rewarding. I’ve been lucky to have been here since before the campus opened for undergraduate instruction in Fall 2005. To have seen and to have contributed to the progress that’s been made since then is humbling. The faculty, students and staff have worked so hard and what UC Merced is today is something that should make us very proud. I look forward to doing some of that building again with Summer Session.

Tell us something about you that people on campus might not know.

I was born and raised in Merced. I went to Merced College and transferred to UC Santa Barbara. After graduating from UCSB and starting graduate school at UCLA, I spent a year in Cairo, Egypt.