Rutgers University Senate
Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions Committee (ASRAC)
Report and Recommendations in Response to Charge S-0326
Modification of University Calendar for Academic Years 2004-2005 and 2011-2012
Submitted February 2004

Original Charge S-0326:  Consider and report on the default academic calendar for academic years 2005-06, 2009-10, and 2011-12, which call for August 31 start dates.

Academic Calendars (as of February 4, 2004) online: 2003-2005, 2006-2008, 2009-2011, 2012-2014.

The University Senate’s Academic Standards, Regulations and Admissions Committee requests that the University Senate adopt the following recommendations regarding the University Academic Calendar:

The Calendar for Fall 2005 and Fall 2011 shall be modified as follows:

Start of Classes: Thursday, September 1
Labor Day: Monday, September 5 - No Classes
Change in Designation: Wednesday schedule on Tuesday, November 22
Thanksgiving Recess: Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27
Classes End: Tuesday, December 13
Reading Days: Wednesday, December 14 and Thursday, December 15
Final Examinations: Friday, December 16 through Friday, December 23
Winter Recess Begins: Saturday, December 24

Need for this Proposal

Section 2.2.2 of the University Senate’s Enabling Regulations provide that the Senate establishes the University Calendar.  The Senate has exercised this power by adopting a repeating fifteen-year calendar.

On February 5, 2000, the Senate adopted academic calendars for the 2005-2006 and 2011-2012 academic year.  At that time, the Fall Semester of these calendars were designated as follows:

Fall Semester Begins: Wednesday, August 31
Labor Day: Monday, September 5 - No Classes
Thanksgiving Recess: Wednesday, November 23 through Sunday, November 27
Regular Classes End: Monday, December 12
Reading Days: Tuesday, Dec 13 and Wednesday, Dec 14
Fall Exams Begin: Thursday, Dec 15
Fall Exams End: Thursday, Dec 22
Winter Recess Begins: Friday, December 23

Please note that this schedule entails (a) no classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and (b) two reading days prior to exams.  We think these are salutary features. But this schedule also provides for an August 31 date, an unusually early date, for the beginning of classes.  We understand that there was debate in the Senate about the decision to start on August 31, and that the Senate, in adopting this calendar, acknowledged the need to later revisit it.

The time to resolve this issue has come, at least for 2005-2006.  The Rutgers Chapter of the American Association of University Professors objects to the August 31 start date.  The Chapter points out that the August 31 start date conflicts with the collective bargaining agreement between the Chapter and the University; this agreement calls for faculty to be in residence beginning September 1.  An August 31 start date might also cause hardship for both faculty and students.

The Executive Committee therefore charged ASRAC last November to consider revising the calendar for the three academic years (2005-2006, 2009-2010, 2011-2012) in which the present calendar calls for an August 31 start date.  ASRAC has developed a solution for 2005-2006; that solution also applies to 2011-2012, in which the Gregorian calendar is the same as in 2005-2006. (2009-2010 poses other issues, and so ASRAC is not yet prepared to recommend a solution for that year.)

Rationale for Recommendations

Our solution solves the start date problem while preserving (a) no classes on the day before Thanksgiving; and (b) two reading days for students prior to final exams.  Our recommended changes in the calendar are the result of the tireless efforts of University Senator Aaron Domb.

Our proposed modifications in the calendar simply postpone both the start date and the last day of exams by one day.  As a result, the calendar gains a Tuesday (12/13) and loses a Wednesday (08/31).  To compensate, we propose that classes on Tuesday, November 22, meet on a Wednesday schedule.  (The week of Thanksgiving is the traditional time for adjustments in class meeting schedule).

We should note one possible objection.  Our proposed calendar ends the semester on Friday. 23. If classes must be cancelled during the semester, then there will be no way to make up exams without either:  (a) exams on Saturday, December 24; or (b) exams before classes start in the Spring.  Neither seems desirable.

The answer might appear to be ending the semester on Thursday, December 22, as the original calendar does.  But there are difficulties with this solution given the need to eliminate an August start date.  Ending on the 22nd would require either a cancellation of one reading day, or that Wednesday classes meet on the day before Thanksgiving, or that the Fall exam schedule be compressed to seven days.  All of these are, in our judgment, undesirable.  For instance, compressing the Fall exam schedule would cause more conflicts in exams for our students.

The alternative of having Wednesday classes meet on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving creates scheduling problems.  Classes on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving have traditionally been on a Friday schedule.  This has worked well because there are no Friday night classes, thus allowing the dormitories and other University facilities to close by 7 p.m., and accommodating travel needs.

But it is not feasible to use the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a Friday in this case.  Doing so would cause the calendar to contain an extra Friday, and to have a missing Wednesday.  The only way to compensate would be to designate a Friday (e.g., December 9, the last Friday of classes) as a Wednesday.  That would necessitate classes on a Friday night.  We think that this would pose an undue burden on observant Jews and others who cannot attend classes on a Friday night, and so we oppose it.

Hence the Committee urges the adoption of its recommendations as the best way to resolve the 2005-2006 and 2011-2012 academic years.  The Committee hopes that it can shortly recommend a solution for the 2009-2010 academic year as well.