“For final exams, unless there’s two feet of snow, we’re probably going to go,” he said.
Commencement has been scheduled for the Sunday following the final Friday of exams for the past five years. In 2005, it was the Sunday following a final exam day on a Saturday.
“This has been standard practice, now we see that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney at the meeting.
He added that an additional day or two need to be added between finals and commencement to deal with inclement weather as well as personal issues that students might run into.
The academic calendar committee has several options for remedying the situation. Those include beginning the school year earlier, shifting the exam schedule, extending the academic calendar and eliminating some reading days.
“We were fortunate not to have weather that interfered with our exam days,” said Christopher Derickson, the University registrar.
“We would like to have … more of a cushion between the final exam and commencement,” he added.
The construction of the academic calendar is a complicated process, and some of the options are easier said than done.
The calendar, which details plans for the semester to the day, must be set at least 18 months before it goes into effect.
It must also take into consideration the calendars of N.C. State and Duke universities, where some students take concurrent courses, Derickson said.
The calendar has already been set for the 2011-12 school year, with the same two-day break between finals and commencement.
Bobbi Owen, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, attended the meeting and said scrapping a reading day would be met with resistance.
“I don’t think that option would be popular with anyone, to tell you the truth,” she said.
Carney agreed, saying, “I think we still need a reading day.”
Derickson said the rearrangement of the calendar can be accomplished without altering its length.
“It wouldn’t require us to add extra days,” he said.
Carney said changing the academic calendar could also give professors more time to grade exams. Currently, they must turn them in within 72 hours of the day of the exam.
Carney said the scheduling issue is not particularly pressing but also not one to be ignored.
“I don’t think this is a crisis situation,” he said.
“It’s just something that we need to pay attention to.”
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