Task force to release report

A University taskforce investigating an alternative academic calendar will submit its final report to administrators on Wednesday. The original May 1 deadline was pushed back to allow for further research.

The report will be a compilation of pros and cons of a new calendar, and not be the task force’s recommendation for a new system, which could include a 10-week mandatory summer session for rising juniors. Administrators will then review the report and ask for feedback from the GW community before deciding if they want to change the calendar.

The Alternative Academic Calendar Committee, comprised of faculty, administrators from various departments and two students, has been researching two new academic plans since January.

The first is a credit system known as the four-by-four, in which students would take four classes, worth four credits each, per semester. The second possibility under consideration is the mandatory summer session which would then require students to take one semester off during their junior or senior year.

The changes are intended to more efficiently use GW’s resources, such as classroom space and faculty as well as increase revenue, administrators said.

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution at its May meeting asking the University to refrain from taking action until the senate provides its own recommendations.

“We simply want to make certain that the senate be formally involved (in making a recommendation),” said Lilien Robinson, chair of the Faculty Senate.

But committee member Gerald Kauvar said administrators never planned to approve any changes without consideration of the Faculty Senate or the rest of the GW community.

“Nothing’s going to happen until the committee turns in the report, and it gets widely distributed to the public,” he said. “That was always the intention.”

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said Friday that he intends to make sure the whole GW community participates in the discussion of a new calendar.

The Faculty Senate’s resolution is meant to ensure that the senate will be given an opportunity to review all data before the University makes a final decision.

“It has been an established practice that recommendations for changes to the academic calendar are made by the Faculty Senate,” the resolution stated.

Robinson said the senate’s subcommittee on Educational Policy traditionally is the governing body to suggest alterations to the academic calendar, and it will be in charge of making new recommendations based on Wednesday’s report.

She acknowledged that the senate currently cannot formulate an opinion on the four-by-four or mandatory summer until the release of the report.

Kauvar said the University is uncertain how the report will be distributed, but assured it will be made public.

“Depending on the length (of the report), we’ll probably publish it in By George,” he said, referring to the newspaper published by the Office of University Relations. “If it’s too long, we’ll publish it independently.”

Kauvar also said the Faculty Senate’s resolution had no impact on the decision to publish the report.

“We would have done the same whether or not they passed the resolution,” he said.

Robinson said once the report is released, she anticipates the Educational Policy Committee will review it, ask any unanswered questions and then make its judgement on the information.

She said she thinks the University will be responsive to whatever recommendations the senate makes. She also noted that the senate’s Executive Committee has been meeting once a week with administrators, and she said she is “delighted” that the Student Association President Kris Hart and other SA officers have been attending Faculty Senate meetings.

“It’s not like we work in isolation,” Robinson said. “We all operate under the same type of (governing) system, and I think these committees are the best way to communicate.”
-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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