Letter to the editor
Fall break not an option for UWRF
November 10, 2006
The issue of a fall break comes up just about every time an academic calendar is considered by the Faculty Senate. I am the chair of the Calendar Committee, and we recently submitted a report to the Faculty Senate on the feasibility of a fall break. Most people on campus would likely agree that a fall break would be desirable, but there are some hurdles that get in the way of actually scheduling a fall break -- some large hurdles and some not so large.
By far the largest hurdle is a Wisconsin statute [36.11(16) COMMENCEMENT OF FALL SEMESTER] that does not allow fall classes to begin until after Sept. 1. This leaves only 77 days available for instruction between Sept. 2 (the first date we can hold class) and Dec. 22 (the latest date to be considered for scheduling the end of final exams) in all but one year of the calendar cycle. These 77 days do not include Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day or the Friday after Thanksgiving.
A second hurdle is a UW- System policy [92-9 ACADEMIC CALENDAR POLICY] that specifies a minimum of 150 days of classroom instruction and even-length semesters. The standard UWRF academic calendar meets this requirement with 75 days of instruction in the fall and spring semesters, including 70 days of classes and 5 days of final exams. This leaves essentially two days of calendaring freedom for the Calendar Committee to work with the fall semester calendar.
There are additional issues that arise from the UWRF Balanced Calendar Policy [Faculty Senate motion 01-02] that makes using those two days of calendaring freedom for a fall break problematic.
The long story made short is that a meaningful fall break is not feasible with the current calendaring constraints. The complete report on the feasibility of a fall break can be found on the UWRF Faculty Senate web page at: www.uwrf.edu/faculty_senate/senate_agendas/2006- 07/Agenda%209-13-06/FallBreakMemo.doc
The Calendar Committee is always interested in hearing comments and suggestions related to the academic calendar so that we can craft an academic calendar that best serves the needs of our campus community.