The Executive Committee of the Faculty (ExComm) approved the 2012-2013 academic calendar Monday, in a relatively late fashion, with provisions for two reading days prior to finals week.
According to Dean of Students and ExComm chair Larry Breitborde, the calendar, which under normal circumstances would have been approved during spring term 2011, has seen some good changes. But Breitborde and others agree that there is more work to be done for future calendars.
Breitborde said ExComm considered many of the proposed changes last spring; addressing how reading days, final exam periods, new student orientation and term length should be structured. They were never able to come to consensus and left the matter to be resolved early this year.
“[This year, ExComm] said, ‘Look, these are all good ideas, but there’s no way we’re in a position to figure out what we want to do with all of those, so let’s focus on the ones where there seems to be the most concern and maybe the most consensus and see what we can come up with,’” Breitborde said.
The new calendar will include two reading days at the end of each term, a midterm-reading day during winter term and the start of fall term falling on the Wednesday after Labor Day.
He said there was much discussion about whether to add a midterm reading day during spring term as well, but they decided against it. (Fall Institute Day already serves that purpose, so fall was not an issue.)
“The reason that got everybody behind that was not so much because of Flunk Day as it was that as things stood, if we inserted a reading day, there would be nine weeks of class meetings,” Breitborde said. “And the feeling was that’s cutting it down too much.”
Informal straw polls were conducted in Student Senate and the meeting of the faculty last week in an effort to get input for the new calendar. Senate President senior Gordon Barratt, who also sits on ExComm, said the approved calendar was a “happy medium” between student and faculty interests.
“This is something the faculty and students will appreciate,” Barratt said. “Students got a majority of what they wanted, and I’m very pleased with it.”
Professor of Mathematics and ExComm voting member Dennis Schneider, though, was not so pleased. Schneider was the driving force for calendar proposals during Spring Term 2011, while he was interim chair of the Student Life Committee. Schneider voted against the calendar proposal that passed ExComm Monday.
“For over 30 years, I’ve tried to get two study days before finals. Finally, we have a schedule with two days,” Schneider said. “That’s a real improvement, I think.”
He also mentioned the winter midterm-reading day as an improvement, but Schneider said these changes should not be made at the expense of instruction time.
“As we keep cutting away at the length of these terms, serious questions have to be asked,” Schneider said. “What is a credit? What is a course? Those are the related questions.”
Breitborde mentioned that this schedule is only binding for next academic year, and there will be more discussion about the following year’s calendar later this year.
“There are still things that we want to talk about later in the year. This is just the calendar for ’12-’13,” Breitborde said. “This is something that’s going to be with us for a while.”