Academic calendar faces changes
Posted Nov. 7, 2008

In order to better assist La Verne’s students and faculty, Provost Alden Reimonenq has laid out three different proposals to change and improve the academic calendars.

“We have worked with various models that we think are viable,” Adeline Cardenas-Clague, associate vice president for academic support and retention services, said.

Since most graduate students are on a term system and undergraduate students are on a semester system, having many academic calendars creates coordination problems.

There are currently five academic calendars all running at the same time.

However, the provost said that the Board of Trustees believes it would be easier and more efficient to have only two academic calendars at ULV for graduate and undergraduate students.

Originally, the board called for only one academic calendar for the entire University. However, it became apparent that was too difficult of a task to accomplish.

Under Proposal A’s semester system, there would be 16 weeks of class instruction with a newly formed fall break and a traditional spring break. Thanksgiving would not be part of the fall break. However, January term would be replaced by a May term, according to Reimonenq.

Proposal B is the same as Proposal A, with a May term, except for the fact that Proposal B does not contain a fall break. It will only have the traditional Thanksgiving break.

Proposal C is completely different from the other two proposals. For the semester system under this proposal, there would be 16 weeks of class instruction each semester, with a spring break. January interterm will be kept.

The term system for graduate students is the same in all three proposals.

Each one suggests a 10-week term with a five-week mini fall term. All of the breaks and holidays of the semester system would be aligned with the term system, according to Reimonenq.

There would be some disadvantages to these three proposals. However, there are many reasons for changing the academic calendars, the provost said.

“I don’t have a problem with any of the three proposals,” said Richard Simpson, professor of strategic management and a member of the academic calendar task force. “I see the pros and cons with all of them.”

The main benefit these proposals provide is the common start dates. Students on a semester system and a term system will all begin their classes on the same day. No one starts a week before or a week after. Also, the breaks and holidays begin and end at the same time.

“The common start dates will allow us to track our enrollments,” Reimonenq said.

“With the common start, we will know how many students are enrolled and our budget by late September,” Simpson said. “Now, we do not have to wait until late October or early November to know this information.”

The common start dates also benefit the CAPA program. There would be no financial aid problems for CAPA students because everyone begins at the same time, according to Simpson.

The academic calendar proposals will also benefit the faculty who have long hours of teaching, especially professors teaching graduate students. Since some professors teach 20 weeks straight, it would allow for professors to have a break for at least a week.

“Some of us have to teach 20 weeks straight,” said Simpson, who teaches one undergraduate class in addition to his graduate classes. “I never get a break.”

“Since the term ends six weeks before the semester, I don’t have tons of papers to grade right before Christmas,” Simpson said.

Also, the proposals would improve enrollment growth in the evenings and space utilization of classrooms.

The extra week of class instruction would shorten classes by minutes, and would open up one more block for classes. It would open up 55 classrooms, said Cardenas-Clague.

However, there are some disadvantages to the proposals.

One is the removal of January Term in Proposal A and B. Although the study abroad programs will move into the May term, different seasons interfere with the cost of studying abroad.

“Travel costs are higher in the May term, than they are in January term,” Simpson said.

Also, by adding May term and removing January term, it creates problems with graduation.

“When are we going to have graduation, and how many graduates will we have,” Simpson said.

All proposals added an extra week of class instruction for the semester system. Professors in the semester system would now have to work an extra week.

“The faculty has 10-month contracts, which include 40 weeks of the year of instructional time,” Reimonenq said. “The extra week is still within their contract time.”

“However, we have not worked out those sort of details,” Reimonenq said. “It is something we will have to work out.”

Also, on a term system stand point, the switch from the early October start to the common start date in September might overwhelm graduate students who have children also starting school in early September.

Many students have their opinions toward the proposals.

“Definitely keep January term. It is a really good way to get extra units,” said Nick McGrall, sophomore political science major. “It helps manage stress when you do not have that many units in the semesters.”

“Vote yes on proposal C,” McGrall said.

“I would go with Proposal C because student attendance in May term will greatly decrease as opposed to January term,” said Andrew Batres, freshman criminology major. “I would rather study between semesters like in January term, than study after the spring semester.”

However, there are also some who disagree and favor Proposal A.

“I like Proposal A because during January term I was not able to work because my job did not work around my class schedule,” said Jackie Bastawroos, sophomore journalism major. “Whereas, in May term, I will be able to work and go to school at the same time because my job can work around my schedule.”

While many have their opinions toward which proposal is best, administrators said all of the proposals will benefit the university.

“What we have learned is that students really rely on January term because it allows them to fulfill extra class requirements and allows students to work full time during the long break to make extra cash that will help them with the incoming academic year,” Cardenas-Clague said.

“Any one will work,” Reimonenq said. “What has swayed me toward a specific proposal is when I talk to the students and their wanting to preserve the January term session.”

“The committee, faculty and administration have no preference,” Simpson said. “Not one of the proposals is perfect, but they all work.”

“We are going to make the decision that is in the best interest of the students,” Cardenas-Clague said.

Natalie Veissalov can be reached at natalie.veissalov@laverne.edu.

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