Chancellor approves new five-year Academic Calendar
Chancellor approves new five-year Academic CalendarMay 21, 2003Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s new five-year academic calendar calls for semesters to end earlier, allowing more time for grading and related activities and longer breaks between Fall and Spring semesters. But the 2004-2009 calendar recently approved by Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw and Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund departs from the Academic Calendar committee’s initial proposal, in that it does not make Labor Day an instructional day or include additional Thanksgiving break days.
According to Maureen Breed, interim University registrar and chair of the committee, the final calendar structure is the best choice to meet the diverse end-of-semester needs of students and faculty, while still allowing for a robust instructional schedule during the semester.
“As we considered several options, we had strong commentary, both positive and negative, from the University community,” says Breed. “We are satisfied that this calendar supports and reflects the University’s values and the Academic Plan, provides a consistent structure for the academic year and reflects aspects of our diversity.
To accommodate earlier Fall semester ending dates, the calendar eliminates the one-day Autumn Break, reduces the number of Fall semester reading days from the current four to three (one weekend day and two half weekdays) and cuts the number of final examination days from four and one half to four. Fall final exams will now begin Monday after the last day of classes and end on Friday of the same week.
The one-day-earlier ending of the Spring semester reduces the number of reading days from four to three and eliminating the last reading day, previously held during the Wednesday of the second week of exams. Exams will end on Wednesday instead of Thursday.
The process of developing the calendar began last fall, when the Academic Calendar committee met with Freund to discuss her academic priorities. Serving on the committee were Breed; Raymond Blaskiewicz, registrar of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Shiu-Kai Chin, Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science and director of the CASE Center; Ernest Hemphill, professor in The College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Senate Committee on Instruction; Christine Himes, professor in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Sharon Hollenback, professor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; Hanna Richardson, assistant dean of the School of Management and Chair of the Academic Coordinating Committee; and Margaret Stearns, bursar and registrar of University College.
The committee’s preliminary proposed calendar was announced in the Syracuse Record during the Fall 2002 semester, and information about the proposed calendar and its features, including rationales and historic information, were provided at a Web site, where comments from students, faculty, and staff were collected. Additional feedback was solicited from senior administrators, academic deans, the University Senate, the Academic Coordinating Committee, the ESF administration, the Student Government Association, the Graduate Student Organization, Undergraduates for a Better Education and others.
After reviewing comments, the committee prepared its final report and recommendations for the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor in February 2003, at which time the Committee decided to abandon plans for instruction on Labor Day and additional break days during Thanksgiving week.
The committee found two considerations related to Labor Day compelling: The likelihood that many staff might be required to work on Labor Day if classes were held, even if this remained a staff holiday; and the Orientation Planning Team’s Sub-committee on Academic Transitions’ draft recommendation that Labor Day weekend be reserved “to engage new students and continuing students in the life of the campus, the life of the community, and the life of the mind.” Without Labor Day classes, the Monday of Thanksgiving week became a required instructional day, needed to meet the New York State Department of Education’s course contact hour requirements.
Information about the calendar is available online at http://sumweb.syr.edu/registrar.