Throughout the semester, rumors have been circulating around Goucher’s campus regarding an extra week being added to the semester. The first students to move in, Community Assistants and members of the Orientation Committee, arrived on Aug. 15. A week later, on Aug. 22, the campus opened to first year students for orientation. Throughout that weekend, upperclassman returned to campus; classes began Monday, Aug. 26.
“There are a great number of events that need to be included into the calendar each year,” Provost Marc Roy said. The scheduled events range from athletic competitions and religious high holidays to midterm and final exams.
Roy explained that each year, the registrar, Andrew Westfall, creates the academic calendar’s first draft. That draft is then altered by the athletic department, the school chaplain and rabbi, and the academic staff, before the senior staff revises the final version of the calendar.
The rumors amongst faculty and students of an extra week are not completely without cause. According to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), a college semester is required to have a minimum of 14 academic weeks. When the calendar is put together, the academic section is of great concern. This semester, Monday classes will meet 14 times, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday classes will meet 15 times, and Friday cases will meet 14 times.
Through the new schedule, only three days were added beyond what has been the normal number of instructional days. These days have been added because this fall’s schedule worked around Labor Day, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, end of Sukkot, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day. Although students do not have all these days free, they do affect class attendance.
This year’s fall break was also extended due to the flexibility in this year’s schedule. “I would like to always give the students at least two days off for fall break, as I believe it is a good break from class and allows the students to take a mental break from obligations that they otherwise would have,” Roy explained. “I also want to give the students these two days off to allow for three days over Thanksgiving to add up to a full week off of class. This allows for the schedule to match up with the one week the college has off in March for spring break.”
The changes will not continue next semester and scheduling for instructional periods during the semester will be different. Most days of the week (Tuesday through Friday) will meet the MSDE standard of 14 meetings for the semester; however, Monday classes will meet only 13 times. Even though this is less than the MSDE requirements, because it happens so seldom, it is not an issue that causes the college to be in jeopardy of losing accreditation.