APRIL 14, 2014


A. Proposal from the University Academic Calendar Committee to Extend the Thanksgiving Break (D 11508-11512).

In a lighthearted manner, Professor Hans Hofmann (committee chair, integrative biology) introduced himself by saying that he had spoken against the proposed fall break last year and “as a reward, I ended up on the calendar committee; and then I became the chair of the committee, and my express goal was to abandon the committee… I did not succeed. And, we are back with a new proposal.” He said, in principle, faculty members were in favor of giving students some breathing time in the fall. He reported that following the discussion of the four options reported to the Council on March 17, the calendar committee had met and agreed to a proposal that would give students the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off so that they could travel home. To make up for the lost day, the committee recommended that the fall session be extended by one day so that classes end on a Monday rather than Friday; the dead days would move to Tuesday-Wednesday from Monday-Tuesday, and the final exam period would be Thursday through the following Wednesday. Professor Hofmann pointed out that the draw back to this proposal would be the compressed time period for faculty members to turn in their final grades. However, he shared that the registrar had agreed to extend the deadline for submitting grades until 4:00 pm on Friday and that registrar’s office would continue to make every effort to schedule large classes fairly early in the exam period. Professor Hofmann also pointed out that the students were mostly in favor of the proposal but had informed the committee that some students would likely miss the last class day. He said that he was “fairly optimistic” that attendance would be decent since the exam period followed right after the last class day and most students would still be in town.

Professor Nancy Kwallek (architecture) asked for clarification on whether the proposal would affect Tuesday-Thursday class schedules. Professor Hofmann confirmed that Tuesday-Thursday classes would be unaffected.

Professor Alberto Martinez (history) spoke against the proposal saying that he felt students would now have two days in which not to attend classes, the Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break and the last class day. Professor Hofmann appreciated his concern saying, “The committee agonized over the course of six long meetings over this. We call it calendar creep. We trust our students.” Chair Hart opined that she had always been reluctant to present “something really important, an exam or quiz” on the Wednesday immediately before Thanksgiving break because she was sympathetic to students’ needing to travel. However, she said on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break she “would not be at all reluctant to schedule something pretty important so that they’ve got to show. I agree with Al about the Monday, it’s going to creep a Monday instead of Wednesday. But, I think, we, the faculty, can pretty well control the Tuesday creep.” Professor Hofmann jokingly suggested a solution to the calendar issue would be for the Council to submit federal legislation proposing the Thanksgiving holiday occur one month earlier. Professor Brian Evans (electrical and computer engineering) stated that he was “glad to see the proposal in this form.” He asked how the new schedule would impact classes that only meet on Wednesdays, and if these classes would meet on the last class day to make up for the lost Wednesday in November? Professor Hofmann said that he and the committee had been unaware of such classes and asked Registrar Shelby Stanfield if he would address the question. The registrar responded saying, “By process, that Monday would be a Monday. But we could make accommodations if there was a need to make up that Wednesday on that Monday, we could make accommodations to support that.”

Vice President of Graduate Student Assembly Omar Al-Hinai asked if changing the last class day from Friday to the following Monday would affect the deadline for submitting graduate student dissertations and theses, which has always been due the last class day. Professor Hofmann replied that if the deadline was coupled with the last class day, “then that is certainly true.” Mr. Al-Hinai said there might be other consequences.

Hearing no further discussion or questions, Chair Hart thanked Professor Hofmann and the committee and reminded members that the Council would act on the legislation on May 5.

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