The academic calendar, including semester start dates and days off, might be tweaked to better accommodate the university community, starting next school-year.
Provost Steve Allred and vice president for student development Steve Bisese have been discussing these potential changes with the student government bodies. Allred appeared at meetings for Westhampton College Government Association and Richmond College Student Government Association Wednesday, Oct. 23, to hear students' feedback.
"Our goal is to come out with a new academic calendar before the end of this semester that will be for 2014-2015," Allred said.
One idea was for the first day of fall semester classes to be a Wednesday. "It has worked well to start on Mondays, but there's nothing magic about that," Allred said.
Another proposed change was to cancel classes on Monday holidays, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Labor Day. This year, there will not be class on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for the first time. "Most of our peer schools already do that," Allred said. "We thought it was the right thing to do."
But students at the WCGA meeting were concerned that faculty who teach lab courses would not be pleased to lose Monday class sessions. They would have to make up those labs during the week or cancel the lab for all of their class sections that week.
Allred also suggested eliminating Fall Break but establishing a week-long Thanksgiving break. One WCGA member said she thought Fall Break was important for students' mental well-being, especially freshmen, who welcome the opportunity to go home in the middle of their first semester.
When Allred asked for a show of hands in favor of the current Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break system, almost all WCGA members voted to keep this system. Similarly, at the RCSGA meeting, no members spoke in favor of eliminating Fall Break.
"One of the questions we're wrestling with is how early we should start in January," Allred said. A member of RCSGA pointed out that a late start to the spring semester would push back the university's May term, which would then conflict with summer internships.
Mimi Mudd, president of WCGA, said she might distribute an online survey to the student body to understand other students' perspectives on possible changes to the academic calendar. WCGA has sent similar surveys in the past relating to other topics, such as the idea of establishing academic credit for science labs.
Mudd said she hoped to see decisions made for the academic calendar before she would graduate in May. "I'd like to get something started this year," she said. "I don't want to leave it as just an idea."
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