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Dec. 12, 2003

President Geoffroy selects current calendar

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University will stick with its current academic calendar.

President Gregory Geoffroy this week gave the nod to the current calendar, citing the campus community's preference to remain with that calendar rather than switch to a new proposal that included such features as a shorter semester, longer winter and summer breaks, and a January mini-semester.

Geoffroy, who read hundreds of comments from faculty, staff, students and campus groups on the two calendar proposals, said the "clear message from all of that input was to remain with the current calendar."

Geoffroy lauds community participation
"I want to compliment the campus community on the incredible level of discussion and serious analysis that occurred during the nearly one-year-long calendar decision-making process," Geoffroy said. "The many comments and input we received were invaluable as we worked toward a decision on this very important topic."

The current academic calendar includes 15 weeks of instruction, 50- and 75- to 80-minute class periods, a three-week break between winter and spring semesters, and a 15-week summer interval. The alternate calendar option (designated "option B") would have shortened the weeks of instruction to 14, increased class times by five minutes and lengthened winter break to four weeks and the summer interval to 16 weeks. "B" also included a two-day class break in October and 10-day mini-semester in January.

Discussion focus: Pros, cons of "B"
Most of the campus discussion focused not on the current calendar, but on the perceived advantages or disadvantages of the newcomer -- option B. Fans of option B tended to like the short January term, the two-day class break in October and the longer winter break, which would give faculty and graduate students more time to finish one semester, get ready for another, conduct research, prepare proposals and attend professional meetings.

Opponents of option B were concerned that the shorter semester wouldn't allow enough time for learning and would reduce the number of lab classes, and that longer class periods would be less productive and make the day too long. Many undergraduates also opposed increasing the winter break to four weeks.

Faculty Senate resolution prompted study
Prompted by a Faculty Senate resolution calling for a longer winter break, Geoffroy set up a task force in the fall of 2002 to consider academic calendar changes. The task force, led by economics department chair Arne Hallam, developed four calendar proposals that were submitted to the campus community in spring 2003.

Geoffroy narrowed the calendar options to two after reviewing comments from several thousand faculty members, staff and students. He sought input from the campus community on the two remaining options this fall. (Many of those comments can be found on a web site at

Geoffroy thanked Hallam and the academic task force committee he led for excellent work in developing calendar options and engaging the campus community in a thorough, thoughtful discussion of those options. "Every part of the campus community participated actively in the discussion," Geoffroy said. "It was a very positive process."

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