Questioner: Matt Gilg
Posted to: Megan Kuehner, University Registrar Enrollment Services
Why is it that the length of semesters can vary by as much as a full week (150 minutes of class time)?
Written Response Megan Kuehner, University Registrar, Enrollment Services:
As University Registrar, I recognize not only the complexity of the university’s academic calendar, but also the necessity of gathering input from a wide variety of campus sources whose operations will be greatly affected when decisions are made with regards to the calendar. Because of the impact of these decisions UNF has chosen to establish a University Calendar Committee. The committee is tasked with setting the University’s Academic Calendar including all dates related to final exams, commencement, academic deadlines as well as dates relevant to housing and payment deadlines. Moreover, the committee hears requests for changes to the current calendar format and also considers revisions based on need. The committee works hard to balance all requests with the overall needs of the university and all requests are vetted and subject to a vote for approval.
This Committee also serves as a forum for members to share concerns regarding academic scheduling and the needs of individual offices/departments. The University Calendar Committee’s membership, therefore, includes representatives from all College Advising offices, Housing, the Controller’s Office, Athletics, One-Stop, Financial Aid, Orientation, Admissions, Records Processing and Academic Affairs. Faculty memberships are elected positions governed through the Faculty Association, and elected faculty members serve for two years. I would encourage all concerned faculty to talk to their representatives on this committee so that their concerns can be discussed and addressed.
Please note, however, that the university’s academic calendar is ultimately governed by BOG regulation 8.001. The regulation stipulates that “each university shall operate on a year around calendar which provides two hundred twenty days of classroom instruction including examinations, or two hundred ten days of instruction excluding examinations.” Furthermore, the start of the terms are also set by the regulation to fall within three periods, the first three weekdays after August 22, the first three weekdays after January 4, and the first three weekdays after May 5. These requirements set a basic calendar format for the university and allow for minor changes as necessitated by different units on campus. Over the past several years our calendar has followed the guidelines with some variation only on the summer terms to accommodate Study Abroad and TLO opportunities. In addition, a change to a Monday start date for the Summer B term was made in effort to accommodate incoming Freshmen Orientation which has become a two-day event. The Calendar Committee voted overwhelmingly to support these efforts and UNF successfully filed for an exception (when required).
Spring start dates shifted to Wednesdays in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012 because of the holiday closure and the observance of New Year’s Day. Again, the committee did consider the Monday following the return to campus, but a shift would have pushed the end of spring term into the time allotted for the aforementioned Study Abroad programs scheduled for the Spring intersession.
The committee agrees that certain holidays can be problematic when scheduling and there are few opportunities to make up for time lost. There is continual debate on how to mitigate the impact to all departments and the group makes efforts to propose solutions. One such solution are the Reading Days enacted in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 calendars. The intent of the days was to provide faculty with an opportunity for more contact with students and to allow for study and preparation for final exams. As stated in an April 13, 2011 email to all faculty, adjuncts and Chairs, a faculty member should not be holding class sessions that require attendance or using them as a chance to offer early final exams. Many faculty members chose to offer exam reviews and study sessions to the benefit of students and our office heard overwhelmingly positive reviews of the reading days from students. Again, I do encourage concerned faculty members to contact their faculty representatives on the committee or my office directly with additional questions or concerns.