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University Academic Calendar Committee

Prior to the first meeting of the University Academic Calendar Committee, Michael Allen (associate registrar and administrative adviser to the committee) prepared a packet containing the following:
1. Calendar Committee Description & Function, Members of the 2008-09 Calendar Committee
Source: 2008-09 Standing Committees of the General Faculty, University Academic Calendar Committee
2. Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar (old version, as amended by the University Council in April 1992)
3. Composition of the Academic Calendar
4. Coordinating Board Regulations Concerning the Common Calendar (including Current Common Calendar dates)
5. Academic Calendars, Long Session 2008-09, and Summer Session 2009; and Academic Calendars, Long Session 2009-2010 (final approval by provost 8/14/08), and Summer Session 2010 (final approval by provost 8/14/08)
6. Projected Academic Calendar, 2010-11 (Long Session 2010-11, and Summer Session 2011)
7. Vertical Calendars from calendar year 1998 through summer 2010
8. Public School Start and End Dates Spreadsheet


The first meeting of the committee was held in the registrar’s conference room on October 22, 2008. Mike Allen distributed copies of the packet that he prepared. He briefly discussed each item.
Ken Ralls (mechanical engineering and committee chair) distributed copies of the following to committee members:
1. A printout of the web page for the Calendar Committee, 2006-07, chaired by Ken Ralls, and a printout of the web page for the committee’s annual report.
2. A printout of the web page for the University Academic Calendar Committee, 2007-08, chaired by John Allison, and a printout of the web page for the committee’s annual report.
3. A printout of the web page for the University Academic Calendar Committee, 2008-09, chaired by Ken Ralls (this is an updated version of what Mike Allen’s item #1).
4. The Principle for the Development of the Academic Calendar (current version, as amended by the Faculty Council in April 2007). This version was submitted to the Faculty Council by the 2006-07 Calendar Committee.


Ken Ralls discussed that handouts briefly and encouraged the committee members to read them. He also pointed out that the committee must review the Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar and decide if any changes are needed. In addition, the committee needs to approve the projected academic calendar, 2010-11, Mike Allen’s item #6. The latter was approved. The final task at this meeting was the unanimous election of Jon Olson as vice chair of the committee for 2008-09.

Although the committee chair had intended to hold a follow-up meeting for committee members who were unable to attend the first meeting, circumstances precluded this.
Members in attendance: Elizabeth C. Pomeroy, Kenneth M. Ralls, Karrol A. Kitt, Edward W. (Ted) Odell, Evelyn L. Meisell, Nathan V. Bunch, Scott Fulford (for Garrett Fair), and Michael D. Allen.

The second and final meeting of the committee was held in Mike Allen’s office on May 1, 2009. This meeting was delayed as a result of Ken Ralls’s back problems that began at the beginning of February.
Another copy of the Principles for the Development of the Academic Calendar was distributed by Chair Ken Ralls. Committee members reaffirmed that this document remains accurate and does not need to be changed. Ken Ralls asked Mike Allen to summarize a request from the McCombs School of Business to alter the fall academic calendar for students in their Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.
  • The initial request involved starting fall semester classes for the MBA program on Monday, August 24, 2009, rather than on the official first class day of Wednesday, August 26, 2009, in order “to effectively split the semester in half and offer a series of two credit hour courses in the first and second halves of the fall semester.” This would facilitate implemental of a new curriculum for the MBA program. Eric Hirst, associate dean in the McCombs School of Business, submitted this request.
  • The subsequent and rather late request involved starting fall semester classes for the MBA program on Monday, August 17, 2009, with three class days during the fall being cancelled. Daniel Garza, assistant dean in the McCombs School of Business, submitted this request.
Registrar Shelby Stanfield contacted Daniel Garza in order to find out if the provost had approved the requested calendar change. The answer was, no. Consequently, the University Academic Calendar Committee decided that the two requests are moot.

Ken Ralls asked members of the committee if the University Academic Calendar Committee should remain as a stand-alone standing committee of the General Faculty or if it should be merged with another standing committee. Committee members discussed this and unanimously decided that the University Academic Calendar Committee should remain a separate committee.

Jon Olson was unanimously selected as the chair elect; he will served as committee chair during 2009-2010. Members in attendance: Jon E. Olson, Elizabeth C. Pomeroy, Kenneth M. Ralls, Holly A. Williams, Karrol A. Kitt, Edward W. (Ted) Odell, and Michael D. Allen.

The current chair thanks committee members who were able to devote time to attend meetings and Mike Allen for his input and contributions to the committee.

Statement of the 2008-09 University Academic Calendar Committee
Reiterating the Impossibility of a Fall Break

The following is taken from the committee’s 2006-07 annual report.
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 (Ken Ralls) 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.
The committee’s 2007-08 annual report, written by Chair John Allison, includes an expanded version of the above three paragraphs and ends with the following statement: “The committee restates its position that a Fall Break at The University of Texas at Austin is simply impossible to accomplish.”

The 2008-09 University Academic Calendar Committee also restates the position that a Fall Break at The University of Texas at Austin is simply impossible to accomplish.
Ken Ralls, chair