Proposed schedule would add 3-week January term

Mai Hoang

If a proposed schedule is passed for the next school year, some faculty members and students may have less time to chill out during their winter break.

Western officials are considering a new schedule that would add five minutes to every class period to allow a three-week January term.

Provost Barbara Burch said the new term, which would be held during winter break, would allow students to take classes, study abroad or do other university programs.

The proposed schedule would also create some changes in the summer school session. It would reduce the summer school term to 12 weeks instead of 13.

“I don’t know whether this will be done,” Burch said. “I know we’re looking at it as a possibility to add more flexibility to the schedule.”

If implemented, the new schedule won’t affect the length of the school year or cut short any current breaks, Burch said. Students who would want to attend a class during a January term will have at least two weeks off for the winter break.

The schedule proposal has received mixed reactions from students, faculty and administrators.

Potter College Dean David Lee said department heads in the college support the proposal.

Lee said he likes having more time between the end of summer school and the beginning of the fall semester.

That gives more time for new faculty orientation and extra planning, he said.

“It would be nicer to have time to finish summer school, get that out of the way and focus on the fall term and the beginning of the academic year,” Lee said.

Lee also likes the idea of having a three-week January term.

“I think the January term gives us some opportunities for things we might not have thought of,” he said. “I think the change in the calendar invites some creativity.”

Sam Evans, dean of the College of Education, said he has mixed feelings about the addition of a January term.

He said it would provide opportunities for students, but he wants to know how it will impact students before making a final decision.

“I’ve got so many unanswered questions about the January term,” he said. “I can’t say it’s good or bad.”

John Bradley, president of the Student Government Association, said he discussed the schedule change proposal with Burch last school year, but has not had the opportunity to discuss it with her this semester.

Bradley said he supports the idea of adding a January term and getting class credit in a short amount of time.

It gives students a way to tackle a hard course or get an easier course out of the way, he said.

“I wish that in my freshman year of college, I would have had the opportunity to take a J-term class,” he said. “I would’ve taken a J-term class every year.”

But Bradley said he wants to know what impact adding time to every class will have on students.

He said he wants to talk to Burch and Luther Hughes, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, before he comments on the additional minutes.

Burch said she is talking to different groups to get feedback on the proposed schedule. If the schedule change is approved quickly, it could be implemented as early as fall 2004.

“We’re going to make sure that we hear every possible angle so we know it’s a generally better thing to do before we make a final decision,” Burch said.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]