In response to faculty concerns about the semester calendar, Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the deans met over break to discuss alternative calendars. Faculty Senate Executive Committee indicated that faculty believed that the calendar recommendation adopted at the end of the Spring Quarter 2009 did not allow for extended time in the summer to work on teaching, research, and creative activity.
In the spring, the deans recommended to Provost Krendl a calendar that consisted of fifteen weeks of instruction, one week of final exams, and a four-week break between fall and spring semesters. The Provost accepted their recommendation.
At the request of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the deans and I agreed to revisit the calendar decision. We did so in light of information gathered from the academic calendars of Ohio University's presidential peers* and with the benefit of having more knowledge about what the other Ohio universities involved in semester transitions planned to do.
All of the ten presidential peers have calendars that provide for the conclusion of their spring semesters in early May. The ending of the regular academic year in early May grants faculty at those institutions the opportunity to have the longest possible summer to pursue scholarship and pedagogical development. An early May semester conclusion also allows students to have extended summer internship, education abroad, and employment opportunities. Although discussions are continuing at the other Ohio universities transitioning to semesters, it is clear that they are moving in the direction of a fourteen-week semester with one week for final examinations.
After careful consideration of the academic advantages of a fourteen-week semester and what is likely to be the norm for Ohio universities moving to semesters, the deans recommended to me that the university adopt a semester calendar that consists of fourteen weeks of instruction and one week of examinations.
When it comes to the length of the break between semesters, there is a great deal of variability in what Ohio institutions are discussing and what exists at the presidential peers. Much of that difference relates to whether there is a mid-term break during the Fall Semester.
The Quarters to Semester Transition Team, which developed the guiding principles for the semester transition process in AY 2008-2009, collected input from the campus community on a draft academic calendar. The sentiment was strong for having a four-week break. Academic schools and departments wanted the opportunity to offer four-week courses and education abroad experiences; undergraduate students and graduate students preferred a longer break in order to take advantage of educational opportunities or to have a longer period of time to work; staff expressed a preference for four weeks to have time to prepare their offices and campus facilities for the spring semester.
Taking all of these factors into account, the deans did not recommend a mid-term break, which would have lengthened fall semester. They instead recommended a brief hiatus for Thanksgiving and four-week break between semesters.
I have accepted the recommendation of the deans for an academic calendar that consists of fourteen-week semesters with an additional week for final examinations and a four-week break between semesters.
My decision was based in large part upon the following facts:
· The fact that instructional time will remain the same as in a fifteen-week semester with the addition of approximately five minutes to each class session.
· The fact there will be greater time in the summer for students to pursue educational opportunities and employment.
· The fact that faculty will have enhanced opportunities to work on their research, creative activity, and pedagogy.
· The fact that the fourteen-week calendar is the norm for our peer institutions and most likely will be the option that other Ohio institutions transitioning to semesters choose.
· The fact that undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and a number of departments and schools prefer the four-week break.
The deans and I understand that there are compelling arguments for a fifteen-week calendar, but after careful consideration of both options I believe that moving to a fourteen-week semester calendar is the best decision for the whole university.
I would like to thank Faculty Senate Executive Committee for the assistance that they provided in the discussions that took place with the deans.
Executive Vice President and Provost
*Presidential peers include: Indiana University; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; University of Delaware: Washington State University; University of New Hampshire; Clemson University; University of Connecticut; Auburn University; University of Missouri-Columbia; University of Tennessee.