Three new proposals for academic calendars were presented to the council, bringing the count to four potential options. Option A would keep the current quarterly calendar. Option B would move the start of classes back to avoid splitting winter quarter with a holiday break. Option C would split winter quarter into two segments. Finally, Option D would be a complete change to semesters.
Specifically, Option C would split the winter quarter into two discrete five-week blocks with a half week for finals. According to Joe Loffredo, registrar and assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, a four credit course would meet for eight hours a week. “Students, we think, would take two courses per block,” said Loffredo. A full load would be considered twelve credit hours.
During the discussion on Option D, Amit Ray, associate professor of literary and cultural studies and chair of the President’s ad hoc Committee on Semester Planning, presented that committee’s report. According to the report’s timeline, President William Destler will make a decision in April or May of 2010. According to Ray, if approved, the semester system will be under way by the 2012-2013 academic year, following a three-year transition period.
The Potential Change to Semesters
The model for conversion to semesters favored by the Committee on Semester Planning would retain four courses per semester as the standard load, each with four credits. One benefit that this model would bring, as cited by Ray, is that faculty would have to deal with one-third fewer classes per year compared to the current system. As a result, it is “possible there would be fewer adjuncts,” said Ray. However, the same number of class hours would be taught in a year. Other benefits cited include easier transfers, better compatibility with study abroad, and the removal of winter quarter.
One of the major arguments against the change toward a semester system is the potential effect it may have on co-ops. Manny Contomanolis, associate vice president and director of Cooperative Education and Career Services, downplayed the effect such a conversion could have. “The vast majority of co-op schools are on the semester system,” he said.
Over the past few weeks, an outbreak of flu-like symptoms has taken over the campus, but the worst is over. “We’ve hit the peak, and it’s now declined,” said Josh Bauroth, First Year Enrichment instructor and Staff Council chair, relaying information from the Student Health Center. According to Bauroth, the SHC received 300 doses of the H1N1 vaccine, but they were already administered. “They ordered 14,000 doses; they got 300. Someday, they will get more,” said Bauroth.
A Vote in Student Government
Student Government is considering giving Academic Senate and Staff Council representatives voting seats. Academic Senate and Staff Council currently allow the representatives from the two other governance groups (including SG) to vote in their meetings, but neither have been given the privilege to vote in SG affairs.
Staff Council members were asked whether they support receiving such a vote. Although the council was initially split on the issue, a second vote passed with only two members opposed. Bauroth framed receiving the vote as a matter of reciprocity. “Speaking personally, it is blatantly unfair,” he said of not being given a vote.