Schedule shortened to fit similar universities

Graphic by Valerie De La O.

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Academic schedule changes are set to hit Dixie State University students at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.

Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs, said DSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which requires universities to have 15 weeks of instruction and one week set aside for final exams.

“NWCCU specifies the required seat time for students to receive academic credit, and we are fully in compliance with NWCCU requirements,” Lacourse said.

Registrar Julie Stender creates the academic calendar and attempts to compile information from a plethora of already set calendars to optimize students’ time. While looking over calendars from other universities, Stender found an inconsistency in DSU’s calendar, she said.

“I’ve done studies to see when semesters start and end for everybody,” Stender said. “And we’ve been about four days more than other schools.”

Stender said DSU’s fall semester was always a bit longer compared to other schools, whereas the spring semesters were about the same. She took this information into account and created a shorter schedule for fall 2020, she said.

“[DSU] had 145 days of instruction, and other schools went anywhere from 140 to 143,” Stender said. “It seems like it’s 16 weeks, but when you take out the holidays, it’s really not.”

After discovering this information, Stender shortened the fall semester schedules, starting with fall 2020, by one week, putting the total number at 69 days, she said. DSU’s spring semester is usually 71 days, Stender said, and will continue to keep the total number of days at 140. She said the shortened fall semester will extend the time in between summer and fall semesters.

In the past, Stender has aimed to have the calendar available to students three years in advance, but now intends to have the calendar published two years in advance, she said. Stender said this is mostly due to the fact that DSU’s spring and fall breaks should align with Washington County School District’s breaks, so she must wait for their calendars to become available. DSU has recently changed the software used to create the calendar as well, which has created a few hiccups in the process, Stender said.

The amount of weeks in a semester was mentioned during the last Faculty Senate meeting, said Faculty Senate President Michelle McDermott, associate professor of nursing, but was not thoroughly discussed. McDermott is also a member of the Academic Council, which approves the academic calendar for each year. The council hosts monthly meetings to discuss academic happenings around campus, including new majors and approving degrees. The summer, fall and spring 2020-2021 academic calendars were voted on by the council on Dec. 4.