Ross: Shift calendar change discussion to academics

Central Michigan University President George Ross said discussions regarding the proposed academic calendar change need to focus on the academic impact it would have on faculty and students.

"(Currently), there is no committee dedicated to the academic impact (of the proposed changes)," Ross said in a Wednesday meeting with Central Michigan Life's editorial staff. "And I think that is where you start to question things."

Last week, the Academic Senate postponed voting on the proposed calendar changes to Tuesday. The proposed changes came to light as a result of the new faculty collective bargaining agreement in 2011.

If the proposed calendar changes are adopted, CMU would begin fall semester classes after Labor Day. Other universities such as Western Michigan University and University of Michigan – Ann Arbor follow a similar calendar.

"They may or may not bring the motion forward on Tuesday," Ross said. "I hope that when it does come up, it will be defeated."

Ross said if changes to the calendar were to be made, it makes a difference in academics, and that aspect has not been considered enough.

Proponents of the calendar change argue it gives students who hold jobs over the summer more time to work and allows students and faculty who have children of their own to have more time to spend with them.

One of the biggest concerns of the proposed changes is the cost to the university.

"(If the calendar changes), there will be a financial impact, but I think if we're going to examine changing calendars, we have to begin with the academic impact, and we haven't done that," Ross said.

As previously reported by CM Life, if the academic calendar were to change from a 16-week to a 15-week calendar, it would cost the university approximately $2.5 million.

Those estimated costs come from a report compiled by the provost’s office that details the costs the calendar change would have on various departments.

“I’m not going to argue whether that information is correct or incorrect. That is the information that was provided to me,” Provost Gary Shapiro said during last week's A-Senate meeting.

To put things into perspective, Ross added to Shapiro’s statement by saying the university spends, on average, a little over $1 million a day.

“The original calendar committee said nothing about academic gain,” Shapiro said. “Of all the responses, there was one department that said it would have a positive impact.”

The recreation, parks and leisure department reported the proposed calendar change would allow students more time to participate in internships over the summer.


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