A controversial plan to lengthen the school year to extend into the second week of June has been put on hold because of strong faculty opposition to how the decision was made.
The new schedule, previously approved by the faculty Executive Committee, tries to deal with the irregular lengths of Knox’s terms. Fall Term is currently 10 weeks, whereas Winter Term is nine weeks and two days and Spring Term is nine weeks and one day.
The major concern with the current schedule is that granting the same amount of credit for terms that last different periods of time might cause the school to run into trouble with its accreditation at a time when colleges are under increasing scrutiny.
Opposition to the plan lies in numerous areas, but primarily in the fact that the schedule was approved without giving the faculty a chance to give their opinions on the changes.
The Executive Committee does have the power to change the academic calendar without faculty input, but such as move is highly unusual and the faculty are generally consulted on even minor calendar revisions.
Professor of Political Science Karen Kampwirth noted on the disrespect she feels faculty was shown by not being allowed to give their opinions on the proposed changes, saying, “There are so many things wrong with this proposal…this can’t stand.”
Members of the executive committee said that they were pressed for time because calendars need to be approved early for reasons such as orientation.
Associate Professor of Political Science Duane Oldfield raised numerous questions about the proposal, including why 10 weeks is a best amount of time for a term to last, to begin with, and whether or not the real problem is the recent addition of extra reading days to the calendar.
Others asked about the effect on College for Kids, the cost of extra days of housing and food service and whether or not students would be at a disadvantage against their peers at other institutions when applying for summer jobs or internships.
Chair in Theatre Arts Elizabeth Carlin-Metz defended the idea of standardizing at 10 weeks, mentioning how the faculty and students used to feel pressed for time before the lengthening of spring break. She quoted Professor of Economics Roy Andersen, who once described the old system as a “Bataan Death March.”
President Teresa Amott raised the prospect of equalizing the terms in other ways, such as granting more credit for fall courses or holding classes during December for the first time in many years.
But something, according to Amott, must be done soon.
“The wolf is not at the door,” said Amott, referring to looming tighter government scrutiny, “[But] the wolf is circling the camp.”
“If the wolf is circling our camp, why not be more deliberate in deciding how to build our house?” wondered Associate Professor of Political Science Andrew Civettini.
While it was clear how widespread the hostility was, members of the Executive Committee agreed to take another look at proposal. It is not yet clear when the final decision will be made.