Potential Changes to Academic Calendar Proposed

Julia Herbst

After three years of discussion, the Academic Calendar Committee has recently put forth a five-part plan of recommended changes to the academic calendar.

If approved by the general faculty, these changes would be implemented beginning in the 2013-14 school year. The proposed alterations include starting the fall semester before Labor Day (when possible), making Labor Day a teaching day, moving Commencement to Sunday, and closing the “gap” between Winter Term and the first day of second semester classes in order to start the spring semester sooner.

The plan would also extend reading periods by an additional day, in keeping with a request made by Student Senate a few years ago and reaffirmed by members of the current Senate.

The committee — which consists of two faculty members, two College students, and various ad hoc members including the dean of studies, dean of students and the associate deans from both the College and the Conservatory — wants all five parts of the plan to be approved together.

“We would like the proposals to stay linked… because they’re all interrelated,” said Liz Clerkin, Registar. “We did have a discussion this week [with the general faculty]. We would like to go back in May, and, if there’s enough consensus to move forward with the vote, we will.”

The committee was formed to address a number of issues with the current academic calendar, including an “inconsistent” fall semester in which there are an unequal number of Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes and Tuesday/Thursday classes. This problem, which has significant effects on lab-based science classes, led to the idea of making Labor Day a teaching day.

There are additional arguments for making Labor Day a day of classes.

“There’s also the issue [that arises] when Labor Day is the first week of classes,” said Clerkin. “You have Orientation and then you have the beginning of classes, but you have this kind of down-day [that is Labor Day]. We talked a lot about [making] Labor Day a teaching day [so that] everybody would be engaged right away.”

“We don’t really know right now (about changes to the calendar). Everybody has an objection with something. That’s the facts of life,” said Clerkin.

At this point, no final decisions have been made.