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Utah State Changes its Academic Calendar

Monday, Jul. 30, 2018


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The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman for inclusion in Utah State Today.

By Bobbee Russell, Utah Statesman, Tuesday, July 17, 2018 

Utah State University’s academic calendar is changing come fall semester. The student affairs office approved the changes this summer. There will be an even amount of instructional days in the fall and spring semesters, and class schedules will no longer be altered to accommodate for days off.

In the past, Friday classes were held the Thursday before fall break, and Monday classes the Tuesday after Presidents’ Day. For fall 2018, this will no longer be the case. John Mortensen, USU’s assistant vice president for student affairs, said the old schedule was problematic.

In order to get an accurate understanding of this problem, Mortensen and the office of student affairs conducted a study focused on the Friday classes held on Thursday. They wanted to know if these classes were actually being held, and found that only around 45 percent were.

“In many cases, class wasn’t being held or half the students attended the scheduled class,” Mortensen said. “In a few cases, the instructor was in the room holding extra office hours. It seemed like kind of a waste.”

Mortensen and the rest of the calendar committee felt that the change would have a positive impact on students.

Erik Olson, the USU student association engineering senator, is in favor of this change. Olson said that the outside world doesn’t change with the academic calendar.

“Students who may have children may have to reschedule daycare arrangements or employment arrangements. It was a lot of hassle for students,” Olson said.

The calendar committee also changed the finals schedule for spring 2019. “No-Test Week” will go from Wednesday, April 17 through the following Tuesday. The next day, April 24, will be an “interim day.”

That day, there will be “no finals, no classes — just a preparation day,” Mortensen explained. Finals week will start Thursday, April 25 and will go until Wednesday, May 1.

Assistant provost Andi McCabe feels that finals ending on a Wednesday will take away the hassle of moving out for students.

“They are trying to take their finals, pack and move and get out that Friday. It’s a big deal,” McCabe said.

Olson added that if students have a final every day of the week, this change will work in their favor.

“You can manage those in more bite sized pieces,” he said, “having a weekend break in between and the interim day before they start.”

Olson added that the change will also work well for students whose finals are scheduled at the beginning of the week; they will be able to leave Logan earlier to pursue jobs or internships elsewhere.

Although finals week will be different for spring 2019, graduation will still be held Saturday as it has previously. Mortensen said Utah State is the only university that holds commencement on Saturday, and he wouldn’t be surprised if the calendar committee changed it to Friday.

Mortensen pointed out a problem with the schedule change, however: there will only be at least 13 days of instruction for classes held once a week. He explained that professors who teach a course once a week were concerned about fewer days of instruction.

Mortensen wanted USU’s schedule to match up to the other universities around the state. USU’s new academic calendar is now almost identical with The University of Utah’s academic calendar.

“In general, if other schools can handle it, then we can handle it,” Mortensen said.
 





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