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Administration Makes Academic Calendar Changes Without Faculty Input

The academic calendar will change starting in spring of 2024, with a start date of Tuesday, Jan. 30 and end date of Monday, May 6, according to the University’s WebAdvisor. These changes were made by the University’s administration without notice or collaboration from the Faculty Council or the Faculty Association of Monmouth University (FAMCO). The Faculty Council voted to not endorse the new calendar on Friday, March 24.

The Provost did not respond to The Outlook’s request for comment.

It is unclear how the new calendar’s dates will include finals or impact spring break. As per WebAdvisor and the University’s website, this semester’s classes end on Monday, April 24; subsequently, reading day is Tuesday, April 25, and finals span from Wednesday, April 26 to Tuesday, May 2.

“The faculty union was very surprised and deeply concerned to see these major changes to our spring 2024 calendar… It is an unprecedented breach of the norms and practices of shared governance at Monmouth for the administration to make these top-down changes without being transparent with faculty, staff, and students, especially given the scale of the possible impact campus-wide,” began Johanna Foster, Ph.D., Associate Professor for the Department of Political Science and Sociology and President of FAMCO.

Because the making of the academic calendar largely falls within the purview of the administration, the University’s administration is responsible for making the calendar. However, the process by which that calendar is reviewed and approved is through the faculty’s representative Faculty Council.

As two-time Faculty Council Chair in 2010 and 2015, Christopher DeRosa, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of History and Anthropology, provided greater insight into the dynamic of administration and faculty. “Over the years, the administration has proposed several alterations to the calendar, whereupon the faculty check them out and usually approve them.”

“For example, the Fall break, starting the Fall semester after Labor Day, and having five summer sessions, all began as administrative initiatives that were approved of by Faculty Council,” he continued. “The biggest Monmouth calendar change in the 21st century was the change from a 15 to 14-week semester with longer classes, and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off. A joint administrative-faculty task force made that proposal, and after open deliberations about the academic impact, a majority of the faculty at large endorsed the changes. So, MU has a long track record of administrative-faculty cooperation on the calendar that resulted from good, shared governance.”

Conversely, Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., APR, Professor for the Department of Communication and Faculty Council Chair ’18, noted actions the Faculty Council had to take to ensure the administration did not bypass the Faculty Council’s endorsement when making calendar changes. “The Faculty Council passed a Resolution Concerning the review of the Academic Calendar on Sept. 28, 2018, when I was serving as the chair due to several instances in which the administration forgot to pass on the academic calendar for review and endorsement to FC. As administrators often change, we wanted to make sure that these established practices are legislated and that the role of faculty in calendar approval is not just established practice but also a policy statement.”

Foster added, “The administration is required to seek the Faculty Council’s endorsement, which they did not do. They may be free to ignore the faculty’s endorsement, but the question remains: why would the administration want to override an endorsement of the faculty on something as important as this?”

Rose Knapp, DNP, RN, APN-BC, Associate Professor for the Department of Nursing and current Faculty Council Chair, said, “At this time, Faculty Council has requested that the 2024 spring start date be changed to what has been traditionally followed, starting the day after the Martin Luther King holiday. We think that this delay will better serve our students.”

Foster concurred, “All of this confusion and discontent could have been avoided, so we are perplexed as to why the administration would have chosen to bypass the process of collaboration. What is the reason for behaving this way? The faculty union is respectfully requesting that the Provost restore the customary spring schedule to prevent unnecessary chaos and confusion for students while faculty and administrators work out a sound spring 2024 schedule together.”

Many students are unaware of these new changes to the academic calendar as there was no formal announcement. A senior social work student, who asked to remain anonymous, explained, “I did not hear anything about these changes until last Friday when a faculty member told me. This is something that affects both the faculty and students, and the decision was made without hearing from either.”

A sophomore sociology student, who also requested anonymity, elaborated, “I feel that the change in the academic calendar is completely messed up and unfair to students and faculty. A decision like this is so important to have multiple voices because it is a big decision that impacts so many people.”

“Now that the administration has done this without collaborating with the faculty, as is the usual process, faculty, staff and students alike may face significant disruptions to their work, to their housing and dining and to their athletic training. Students in some academic programs may have to face logistical shifts that could impact their competitive paths forward in securing clinical placements and future employment, among other possible dilemmas,” emphasized Foster.