TBR considers modifying common calendar, Tech aims to keep equivalent semesters

The Tennessee Board of Regents is considering changes to the common calendar, which could affect Tech and other TBR institutions as early as the fall 2014 semester.

According to Monica Greppin-Watts, TBR communications director, any revision to the common calendar will be discussed at the Subcouncils’ meeting in July and the Presidents’ Council meeting in August.

“This policy was brought up as an attempt to address major issues within the common calendar,” Treva Berryman, TBR Academic Affairs associate vice chancellor, said.

The common calendar in effect now was created in order to have an equal amount of class days between the fall and spring semesters of each academic year. Currently, there are exactly 16 weeks in the fall and 16 weeks in the spring, with an equal amount of classes for each day of the week.

“The goal was to try to get an equal number of classes,” Berryman said. “But by having the spring semester start on a Thursday, what we’ve found is that many students don’t come-it hasn’t worked.”

In order to keep a balance throughout the semesters, for example, classes for the spring semester start on the first Thursday before Martin Luther King Day, and is counted as a Monday class because students are out of school the following Monday.

According to Berryman, representatives from several TBR institutions have come together to collaborate on making an effective calendar.

“Our sister institutions got a committee at the Tennessee Board of Regents together, and decided we will probably stop doing those two days before Martin Luther King Day, which means we will lose those two days,” Brian O’Connor, Tech mathematics professor, said.

While there are no definite changes to the calendar yet, several proposals have been submitted from different TBR institutions, including Tech.

O’Connor’s proposal, which has been passed by Tech’s Faculty Senate and Academic Council, suggests that Tech recovers the Friday class meeting day before Martin Luther King Day. In order to do this, the Good Friday holiday would be moved to the Friday of spring break, with students reporting to class on Good Friday.

“Now the way we can gain one of them back is to get rid of the Good Friday holiday, which, I believe, most of the four-year schools do already,” O’Connor said.

According to Berryman, Good Friday is not a legal holiday, therefore it is up to the institution to decide whether or not classes are canceled. By law, institutions cannot close the school, including administrative and support offices, for the Good Friday holiday, but they are allowed to cancel classes.

In order to keep both semesters balanced, O’Connor proposed canceling classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and designating the Wednesday after fall break to hold Wednesday classes, instead of Monday classes that currently make up for Labor Day.

“We’re going to be short a Monday class in the spring term,” O’Connor said. “Then to kind of mirror that in the fall semester, we’ll remove Labor Day and make up for it with the Wednesday after fall break. And, so we don’t have an extra Wednesday, we will be out of school the day before Thanksgiving.

“We keep the terms equal as best as we can, so each term will be one Monday class day short, essentially,” O’Connor said. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s the best we can do, I think.”

Berryman said that she has received many proposals to modify the common calendar, and that anyone is welcome to submit his or her own proposal.