Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Calendar changes

Changes to UMD’s Academic Calendar

As many of you know there have been numerous conversations over the past year regarding changing UMD’s academic calendar. Based on feedback from governance groups and a markedly positive response to the campus-wide survey sent last spring, revised calendars for 2014-15 and 2015-16 have been drafted to reflect the following changes:

  • Moving ahead the start and end date of fall semester by approximately one week

  • Moving ahead the start and end date of spring semester by approximately one week

  • Extending May term from a three-week session to a four-week session

These draft academic calendars are currently under review by deans and directors, and will be sent to the wider campus community for review later this fall.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why change? What’s wrong with the calendar the way that it is?

The current calendar uses Labor Day as a starting parameter. Under this configuration finals have frequently needed to be scheduled across two weeks and on Saturdays, with no study day between the end of classes and the start of finals. When Labor Day happens to fall later in September we have had final exams scheduled as late as December 23. Faculty members have voiced concern that this degrades the integrity of the final exam. Students have found it to be extremely problematic to have a final exam immediately after the last day of class with no time in between for studying. Moving the calendar away from the arbitrary Labor Day start date solves both these issues.

What about having a fall break?

Although survey data indicated support for a fall break it would also mean moving the start of fall semester back even further in to August, as fall term is already at the minimum of 70 instructional days. We could still entertain this option if there is strong feedback in support of it.

Will moving ahead the start of spring semester have a negative effect on J-term courses?

Yes, however, while these courses are important, UMD’s J-term offerings are quite limited. The number of courses offered on campus during J-term over the past five years has ranged between two and five, with an addition three to six study abroad courses offered. The total average number of students enrolled in J-term is about 150. Any potential change to J-term would affect a very small number of courses and students.  Courses now offered in J term could instead be offered in May term or look at other options.

We’ve always had a 3-week May session. Why change?

The current 3-week May session is very popular but offerings are extremely limited by the amount of available contact time. Extending May term from three weeks to four weeks will likely result in additional courses, additional enrollment, increased graduation and retention for students, and provide additional time for enhanced teaching and learning.

 Won’t it be a problem for our calendars to be out of sync with the Twin Cities campus?

Morris and Crookston both start fall semester the week before Labor Day and spring semester the week before Martin Luther King Day. In addition the majority of MNSCU schools also have an earlier start and end date.

When would this go into effect?

If we maintain our current academic calendar parameters (starting after Labor Day) in 2015 we again face the issue of final exams going right up through December 23rd with no study day in between for students. Although 2015 is the most problematic year it would be possible to implement this change as early as fall 2014.

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