Academic calendar changes will increase the time given to exams

The Faculty Senate met on Tuesday Feb. 9 to discuss changes in the academic calendar and expressed rising concern to President Fogel regarding budget cuts.The Curricular Affairs Committee of the Senate identified the need for an additional day of exams at the end of each semester, starting in Fall 2009.While a long-term fix would have possibly added more days at the beginning of the year, a different fix was necessary for the 2009-2010 academic year because much of the calendar had already been established, Cindy Forehand, the committee’s chair, said. In order to accommodate that additional day, the Senate approved a return to a three-day Thanksgiving break, as opposed to a five-day break. The two days of break will be redistributed to create a long weekend and extra exam day.Next year, students should expect a three-day weekend from Oct. 7 to Oct. 9. For the spring semester, Senate agreed that Town Meeting recess would be eliminated from the Spring 2010 calendar to make room for an exam day at the end of the semester. However, students and faculty may exercise their legal right to participate in their residence town meeting if it occurs on that Tuesday.No changes were made to the calendar for the current semester.While an extra examination day may sound daunting to students, the faculty made the change in an attempt to alleviate stress during finals. In a 2004 examination policy change, professors were given authority to schedule a regular exam in the last week of classes, despite students’ preparation for final exams. The Curricular Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate recommended returning to the original examination policy that states, “No examination (regular or final) shall be given during the last five instructional days of the semester except lab exams given in courses with specific lab sections.”The change, cited in a memo to the entire Faculty Senate, was to allow students time to focus on their final examinations. The vote was unanimous in favor of the policy change.In the second half of the meeting, President Fogel addressed the Faculty Senate in an open forum to discuss budget adjustments and proposed restructuring of the Colleges.Fogel told the Senators that academic integrity and quality would not be compromised during these financial challenges and transparency within the administration is imperative.”Let me assure you no step will be taken without adequate consideration and time,” Fogel said. He aimed to ease the tension of the faculty and said he was comforted that decisions will not be made without their full consent on financial and institutional adjustments.Senators questioned if the 300-student increase of the incoming freshman class put a strain on the quality of education. Fogel said that a faculty student ratio of 16 to 1 ratio which be achieved in the fall has been a desired target for the University.To address short and long term solutions, Fogel acknowledged that there would be serious cuts at the administrative level as well as consolidation of business service centers. “Everyone is making parallel cuts,” he said.