Report shows $3 million cost, low support for proposed academic calendar changes

A report outlining the implications of the proposed academic calendar adjustment to begin classes after Labor Day revealed the change could cost the university around $3 million.

Submitted by Provost Gary Shapiro in response to a request by the Academic Senate in October, the report includes details about the impacts and costs a shorter calendar would have on university finances and student success.

The report offers detailed information about faculty opinion and estimated costs at a departmental level. Every area surveyed, except for the Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services, found the proposed changes to have either a negative impact or no impact at all on student success.

As for the costs, the report calculates a very conservative estimation of around $3 million to change from the current calendar.

“Overall, costs might be higher based on the limited number of responses and the inability to exactly predict costs, particularly increased labor costs for having to work over the Labor Day holiday weekend,” Shapiro said in the report.

However, two large questions remain unanswered: the impact on tuition rates and room and board rates. These questions are set to be answered by the Board of Trustees following more in-depth calculations.

In the athletics department, the proposed calendar would have a detrimental impact on the scheduling of home football games before Labor Day. This would potentially lead to the cancellation of contracts to the sum of more than $1 million in penalties.

The athletics department is also set to see an increase in practice costs.

“The fact is that teams would have to be on campus practicing and competing while school is not in session,” a representative from the athletics department wrote in the report.

If contracts for football games before Labor Day were not dissolved, the School of Music reported conservative estimations of nearly $150,000 for the early arrival of band members in residence halls before the school year begins.

“This will require doubling student housing and meal costs for band camp (currently about $20,000) and doubling supplementary salaries for two faculty members, two graduate assistants and several student assistants,” Associate Professor of Music Jim Batcheller wrote in the report.

The report goes on to explain the alternative is for the band to not play at the opening home game.

The offices of Facilities Management, Information Technology, Residences and Auxiliary Services and the Police Department have all reported potential increased costs of paying employees overtime. A complete estimated cost is not available at this time.

Residences and Auxiliary Services estimates an additional loss of $3.3 million in revenue for the reduction in costs for room and board reflective of a shorter academic year. Accounting for the reduction in operating costs, this brings the figure closer to $2.5 million.

“It appears fair to estimate that the proposed calendar would cost well over $3 million to implement, with the overwhelming majority of these monies being base-budgeted dollars,” Shapiro outlines in the report.

Setting finances aside, other issues yet to be determined are the concern for an increased work and school load in shorter semesters for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts, for example, is concerned the reduction in time would be unfair to students.

“The new calendar puts fall students at a distinct disadvantage, particularly in production courses,” a representative from Broadcast and Cinematic Arts said in the report. “As proposed, spring break continues to occur halfway through the term. While this is not ‘class meeting’ time, it does extend the period from the start to the end of the semester to 16 calendar weeks. This provides valuable ‘gestation time’ for production projects.”

A-Senate will hold its first formal session of the spring semester at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Pearce 138.


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