University of Georgia faculty members no longer will be setting academic calendars.
Under a new state Board of Regents policy, college presidents are now responsible for developing those calendars.
At UGA, President Jere Morehead has designated Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction, with that task. The vice president should “consider” faculty advice, according to a memo Morehead sent Shrivastav.
Under previous rules, the UGA University Council was responsible for developing and voting on academic calendars, though the UGA president still had final approval.
“That will be quite a bit of a change from how things have been done previously,” said University Council executive committee chair Scott Pegan in a recent meeting of the executive committee.
Reaction to the change was mixed with the UGA University Council’s executive committee, which had been scheduled to consider a recommended 2019-20 calendar developed by the council’s Faculty Affairs Committee.
The committee had put hundreds of sometimes frustrating hours of work into developing that calendar and one for the current 2018-19 year, aiming to reduce the conflicts between student internships or summer jobs and UGA’s unusually early starting dates for fall semesters.
As the 2016 fall semester began on Aug. 11, weeks ahead of some schools, many UGA students were absent as they completed summer internships.
At an October educational affairs committee meeting, members had concluded that one essential change to pushing back the semester start would be to reduce the generous Thanksgiving break. UGA students get from a full week to three days; an unpopular move among students polled.
Most universities have shorter Thanksgiving breaks. Faculty and staff, who have to work part of Thanksgiving week while students are gone, were mostly neutral or in favor of shortening that break.
UGA students also get a one-day fall break the Friday before the annual UGA-Florida football game in Jacksonville, Florida.
Some executive committee members appeared glad to be relieved of the calendar responsibility, but some saw it as further erosion of faculty’s role in university governance.
Other members pointed out that Morehead didn’t have to change the calendar procedure. Even before the change, the president had final approval after calendars were approved by a vote of the full University Council.