Spring Semester Extended
Seeking to address a shortage of instruction days under New York State Education Department policy, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School Kerry Grant proposed a change to the spring 2002 semester calendar at last Wednesday's Faculty Senate Executive Committee.
The change will add four instruction days during finals week, removing two reading days and moving two days of exams to the weekend immediately after classes end.
UB's currently scheduled spring semester is only 14 weeks long, falling one week short of the state's 15-week minimum requirement for full-time study.
Although UB's current schedule complies with SUNY's definition of a "full semester," it does not meet the education department's requirements.
"We have under one set of regulations an appropriate calendar, yet under another we do not," said Grant.
Grant concluded with what he termed "the best of all possible solutions," eliminating two reading days from the end of the semester and adding exams over the first weekend after classes. While he admitted the solution is not perfect - deleting the reading days will leave students with little time to study, for example, and the weekend exam days could cause religious conflicts - the measure is only a temporary solution to compensate for this year's non-compliance.
Two other solutions were debated but rejected as either too expensive or impractical.
The first suggested beginning the spring semester a week early, but was dropped after concerns regarding students' already-planned work schedules and vacation times were raised. Beginning the semester early would also entail opening the residence halls for an additional week and extending meal plans, an expense estimated between $200,000 and $250,000.
The second proposal moved the extra week to the end of the semester, but conflicts between that week and commencement week made the solution unworkable. Grant pointed out that not only would the different graduation ceremonies be difficult to reschedule, thousands of hotel reservations for the time would have to be rescheduled, which is not an easy feat.
The idea of removing the reading days and utilizing the weekend emerged as the only feasible option, said Grant.
"This is not unreasonable and provides adequate notice," Grant said. "There is a shortage right now in instructional days that faculty need to make up as well."
President William R. Greiner has appointed Grant to take full responsibility for the creation of the academic calendar to avoid future mishaps of this nature.
Even with the extension of the spring semester, UB will still fall short of the state mandate. "The rules are an odd collection of interpretations; we end up with one day short, but that is a minor technicality," said Grant.
To meet the state's "full-time" requirement of at least 15 weeks of instruction, future students can expect only three weeks between fall and spring semesters, instead of the traditional four.
"For right now, it is an easy remedy to the situation," said Grant. "It is not ideal but we wanted to take the students into account."
Students will be informed of this schedule change when the official calendar of the spring semester comes out, and teachers next semester will include the information in their syllabi.