Academics, finances to be included in calendar assessment

Dean of Business Administration Charles Crespy said Academic Senate will have to weigh both financial and academic issues when reviewing the proposed academic calendar change.

“It’s my hope and expectation that the provost report will clarify the academic and financial decisions involved in the process,” he said.

A-Senate voted to approve a motion on Tuesday, which charges a report from the provost providing the costs and benefits of the academic calendar change to A-Senate.

Provost Gary Shapiro said there will not be a committee working on the report. Shapiro said a number of potential issues were identified at A-Senate, and the appropriate offices will report back to him with information.

“I will aggregate those responses and report back to the senate,” he said.

Shapiro said he will report back to A-Senate within 30 days of the charge.

Crespy said it is important for senators to listen to student input because the primary goal of A-Senate is to improve the academic experience at Central Michigan University.

“These are difficult decisions and you have to weigh a lot of variables,  and our concern is whatever we do in the long run is in the best interest in the students we serve,” he said.

Donna Ericksen, co-chair of the Academic Calendar Committee and professor of mathematics, said at A-Senate on Tuesday that students were invited to express their support or concern for the calendar through a survey.

One problem with sending a survey to students is that students are overwhelmed with the variety of information, Crespy said.  He said A-Senate faced a similar situation when making a decision on strategic planning, and they had to be more aggressive in reaching out to students for their feedback. It's not until A-Senate approaches a decision that more people want to give their input, he said.

“We’re trying to engage all relative parties to make a decision," he said.

Crespy said he personally prefers the 16-week calendar because the extended calendar enhances CMU’s opportunities to do things in the classroom. He said the extra week gives the university more time in the semester to develop ideas, such as integrating internship opportunities.

The issue that goes back to the provost is the cost of changing to a 15-week calendar, Crespy said. He said issues of cost range from the attendance at the first football game taking place before classes started to whether students should pay the same amount for residence expenses.

“We don’t have a good feel for the cost of shortening the calendar,” he said.

However, the provost can’t ascertain a decision on those issues in the report, Crespy said. The Board of Trustees would decide whether or not students should pay less.

Crespy said A-Senate’s vote showed the majority of the senators were uncomfortable with the process and wanted to gather more information. He said he believes that after the provost’s report is presented, A-Senate will then make a decision whether or not to proceed with the calendar change.

“I applaud the Academic Senate for wanting to get more information,” he said. “I thought that was a smart and very deliberate move on behalf of the Academic Senate.”


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