Academic calendar changed


Changes are on the horizon regarding the length of semesters and summer sessions in upcoming years.

The upcoming 2015 summer session will last 14 weeks instead of 12, which will affect the durations of school breaks.

Registrar Michele Neary said the two biggest reasons leading to this change in the summer session were the addition of online, graduate degree-seeking programs to Butler’s curriculum.

New professors on the board who recognized more than six weeks are needed to teach a graduate course.

Additionally, the physician’s assistant and pharmacy graduate programs requested additional time.

Neary said pharmacy students, both in the graduate and undergraduate programs, needed more time to complete rotations during the summer sessions.

Both parties made their needs known at the same time.

“So it kind of all worked out,” Neary said.

The university will plan the academic calendar moving forward five years in advance.

The current existing academic calendar was not approved beyond the 2013-14 year, and people may want to plan for the future, Neary said.

“In the past, there have been academic calendars looking into the future,” she said, “so that somebody could look at a calendar two years out and know what was going on.”

 The additional summer weeks also affects the amount of time for breaks.

Instead of six weeks, there will now be four during the summer session.

“So you got to take those four weeks and say, ‘Where do you want those breaks to occur?’” Neary said.

She said there needs to be time between the end of the summer and the start of fall to clean up the residence halls and to get everything prepared.

Myrna Nisenbaum, senior secretary in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, agrees.

“I think the fall semester needs to start a week earlier, because we are scrambling in December to get finals graded, posted and semester grades to (registration and records),” she said. “I wouldn’t mind less time between Christmas and the beginning of spring semester, either.”

Senior Jake Goodwin said he is also concerned about where these breaks will be placed on the calendar and is worried about losing time during breaks.

“I know our Christmas break has already been reduced,” he said.

In regard to more time to complete pharmacy summer courses, Goodwin had other opinions.

“As long as we don’t have any more time taken away during breaks, then I don’t see a problem with it,” he said.

After taking a summer PA course, Goodwin said these changes could be beneficial.

“They cram everything in and if you miss one thing or you don’t understand one thing, they are moving on,” Goodwin said. “Whether you understand or not. I think adding a couple weeks allows them to slow down a little extra to help the students out.”

Neary said undergraduate students who are not in the pharmacy program do not have to worry.

Professors can still teach six-week undergraduate summer courses.

“We are not forcing anyone to change what has already worked for them in the summer,” she said.

But there are guidelines as to how the academic calendar is created.

For example, there will always be two full weeks of instruction for the fall semester after Thanksgiving, followed by finals. And spring commencement will always be the second Saturday in May.

“You take that principle and kind of work backwards,” she said.

Neary said there are competing interests in deciding what actions for the University are best to take, so an academic calendar committee was formed.

“During our discussions earlier in the fall 2014 semester,” she said, “the committee members consulted with a number of additional individuals from the Butler community to help us get a better sense of the interconnectedness of the various issues.”

Neary explained who makes the ultimate decision.

“The other thing I want to make clear is that it is the charge of this committee to recommend academic calendar dates to the provost,” she said. “The decision to approve the academic calendar dates rest with the leadership of the university.”

Neary said, overall, the five-year plans for the academic calendar should be beneficial for the university.

“It is a collective discussion, a conversation, an understanding of what all the issues are,” Neary said. “So then you can come up with that calendar that will work the best that could possibly work for everybody and all the different initiatives that people are working on.”