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Calendar Committee

Prior to the first meeting of the Calendar Committee, Laura Kobler, administrative adviser, distributed a packet that contained the following:
1. Members of the 2006-07 Calendar Committee
2. Composition of the Academic Calendar
3. Academic Calendars for 2005-06 through 2007-08
4. Coordinating Board Regulations Concerning the Common Calendar
5. Principles for Development of the Academic Calendar
6. Projected Academic Calendars for 2008-09
7. Vertical Calendar for 1998 through 2009
8. Public School Ending Dates (including the Texas Education Code requirement that public schools begin classes no earlier than the fourth Monday in August, effective with the 2007-08 school year)

Introductory Information
Prior to the first meeting, the committee chair became aware of some academic calendar problems. (1) Jane Shaughness, associate registrar, pointed out that Human Resource Services had scheduled staff holidays in December 2006 that were partially in conflict with the fall grade reporting period. (2) Mike Shea, SXSW Executive Planner, questioned why the tentative calendar for spring 2008 had Spring Break after the ninth week of classes, rather than after the eighth week of classes. (3) Keshav Rajagopalan, Student Government representative, informed the chair that Student Government wanted to revisit the idea of a Fall Break. The effect of the new law mandating that the first day of instruction in public schools may not be earlier than the fourth Monday in August, effective with the 2007-08 school year, also brought the following input to the committee during the fall 2006 semester: (1) Professor Larry Abraham expressed additional concerns about summer session scheduling, including the ability of public school teachers to take classes during the summer session and the ability of high school seniors admitted to the Summer Freshman Class to attend the summer session immediately after graduating from high school. (2) State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. (via a letter to President William Powers) also expressed concerns about the ability of public school teachers to attend the summer session.

The Calendar Committee met four times during the 2006-07 academic year—September 27, 2006; November 3, 2006; December 1, 2006; and February 27, 2007—and held e-mail votes after the final face-to-face meeting. Michael D. Allen, associate registrar, attended the last three meetings. He will take charge of academic calendar preparation in the registrar’s office and will become administrative adviser to the committee starting in 2007-08.

Brief Summary of the Meetings
The agenda for the first meeting on September 27, 2006, was as follows.
1. Election of a vice chair
2. Staff holiday schedule set by Human Resource Services
3. Add class days to fall semester
4. Change summer session
5. SXSW. Change the rules for scheduling Spring Break

At this meeting Wayne Rebhorn was elected vice chair and other agenda items were discussed briefly. The committee was told that a future topic would be consideration of a Fall Break.

At the second meeting on November 3, 2006, changes in the summer session were discussed; the chair appointed subcommittees to look into ramifications of possible changes. The concerns of Professor Abraham and of Senator Lucio were brought up.

At the third meeting on December 1, 2006, the subcommittee reports concerning changes in the summer session were made. Mike Allen provided additional input. The committee decided that constraints are such that no change in the summer session was possible. It was also decided that the Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar needed some revision. In particular, Spring Break is to be after the eighth week of classes in the spring semester and is not to be tied to Easter in any way.

The agenda for the fourth meeting on February 27, 2007, included the following.
1. Wrap-up of summer session considerations relative to Independent School Districts’ (ISD) schedules
2. The possibility of a Fall Break
3. Election of a chair elect for 2007-08

We reaffirmed our decision not to change the summer session schedule after considering additional information that had become available about individual ISD start and finish dates.

The possibility of adding a Fall Break was discussed extensively. Keshav Rajagopalan had previously sent a document called “Fall Break-Summary” to committee members. This summary, prepared by Grant Rauscher, member of Student Government, contained fall calendar information for some peer institutions. The committee chair had checked academic calendars for several peer institutions and found that a few do have a Fall Break of one day or more but most do not.

The chair expressed concerns about the effect of a Fall Break on laboratory courses in engineering and natural sciences, which are already difficult to schedule in the fall because of the Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays. The chair also pointed out that two examples of universities that have a Fall Break (according to Mr. Rauscher's report) are Indiana University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, neither of which has a college (or school) of engineering.

Because the fall semester is already four class days shorter than the spring semester, and because laboratory courses would be adversely affected by removing even one additional class day, it was decided that a Fall Break is so impractical as to be impossible. (The fall semester has 70 class days — 42 on MWF and 28 on TTh; the spring semester has 74 class days — 44 on MWF and 30 on TTh.) Only if additional class days were added to the fall semester would a Fall Break become feasible, but this is impossible because of constraints on the beginning of the semester and on the end of final examinations.

John R. Allison was elected chair for 2007-08.

Actions Following the Last Formal Meeting
The chair worked with the aid of Laura Kobler on a significant revision of the Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar. A committee vote via e-mail unanimously supported the changes, and the chair submitted them to the Faculty Council on March 19, 2007. They were approved at the Faculty Council meeting on April 16, 2007. In addition, the chair proposed changes in the function statement and composition statement of the committee. The committee approved these changes by other votes via e-mail, and the chair submitted them to the Faculty Council on April 16, 2007, where they were approved.

Final Comments
I express my appreciation to all committee members who participated in and contributed to the committee's deliberations and votes. I also want to recognize Laura Kobler for all that she has done as administrative adviser to the committee this year and in past years. Her work is greatly appreciated.

Ken Ralls, chair