May 23, 2018

The President’s Council endorses the following recommended changes to the current calendar that will take effect with the 2020-21 academic year.

  1. The beginning of the Fall term is moved from a Tuesday to a Wednesday, which will be treated as a Monday for academic purposes.
  2. The Fall semester is shortened by two class days (1 day for MWF classes and 1 day for TR classes).
  3. Fall commencement is after Fall final exams.
  4. There is a guaranteed three-week break between the Fall and Spring terms.
  5. The Spring semester is shortened by two class days (1 day for MWF classes and 1 day for TR classes).
  6. The Spring finals period will begin on a Monday and, as a result, Spring reading day is on Saturday.

The Faculty Senate recommended that the Committee to Enhance Teaching and Learning (CELT) investigate (a) possible uses for the “extra” Thursday in the spring and (b) an appropriate schedule for final exams. These Faculty Senate recommendations are accepted by the President’s Council. Please note that these two topics are more appropriately viewed as scheduling decisions rather than calendar recommendations and that CELT will be asked to submit recommendations to the Faculty Senate early next spring.

The calendar proposal recommended that Labor Day be a university holiday, and the Faculty Senate supported this recommendation only if it is in fact a university holiday (which is outside of its purview to recommend) rather than simply an academic holiday. After careful consideration and a review of the holiday schedules of peer institutions, this President’s Council accepted this recommendation concurrent with the implementation of the new academic calendar. It remanded to the Student Affairs programs the task of preparing a schedule of student activities that will engage students and keep them on campus for that pivotal early weekend and contribute toward University-wide student learning outcomes.

Finally, the calendar proposal recommended that the university only have a one-week spring break. The Faculty Senate engaged in passionate debate on both sides of the issue concerning which model, ultimately, would best serve student learning outcomes. During its discussion, the Faculty Senate identified additional data that it sought and the Senators began to explore creative solutions to the one-week, two-week dichotomy. However, given that this discussion occurred during the last business meeting of the Faculty Senate this year, Senators rejected by split vote the recommendation the recommendation to move to a one-week spring break. Given these promising discussions and the potential for a healthy compromise, the President’s Council recommends that associate provost Rick Gillman and Faculty Senate president Kevin Goebbert use this coming fall term to gather any relevant data and explore spring break options and policies with the Faculty Senate before the President’s Council makes a final determination concerning the length of spring break.

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