UC to ponder changes for academic calendar

By Sean Noble

The University Council will hear proposed changes for the NIU academic calendar today.

James Lankford, chairman of the UC Faculty Assembly’s University Affairs Committee, said he will present, at the UC’s regular meeting, a series of “academic calendar guideline modifications” developed by his committee.

He said the first proposed change deals with the starting date of the fall semester.

NIU policy states the fall semester will begin on the last Monday in August. Lankford said he will suggest that, in years when that day falls on Aug. 30 or 31, the beginning of school be moved to the preceding Monday.

“This will move the semester up, so it doesn’t conflict with having grades and records completed by semester break,” he said.

Lankford said there is usually a larger than normal rush for teachers to get grades processed when the semester ends in mid-December because of a late start. He said last semester, which began on Aug. 31, was an example of a semester that would have been affected by the proposed change.

Modifications will be proposed for the summer semester also, Lankford said. He said his committee will recommend the summer session begin on the sixth Monday after the spring final exams week.

“We will also include in this change a statement that academic departments may use the period between finals and the beginning of the summer session for workshops and other programs,” Lankford said.

Other summer changes would include the formal elimination of the modular schedule system, which breaks the semester up into three four-week sessions.

Lankford said NIU tried the modular system on an experimental basis for two years to determine whether it offered more flexibility to departments. He said this system allowed academic departments to “pick and choose” among the different sessions to develop more convenient calendars.

However, the modular system increased costs such as air conditioning and janitorial services, Lankford said. “The university ended up having to cool buildings for 12 weeks rather than eight weeks, as is the case on our regular eight-week summer schedule.”

He said another problem with the experimental system was it started on the second Monday after the spring final exams week, which conflicted with the schedules of many students coming from the Chicago school system.

Lankford said the confirmation of keeping the eight-week summer session, which NIU has had for about seven years, is a “matter of formality.”