“We didn’t have much of a choice” Interim Provost of Academic Affairs explains reason for shortened semester

Aaron Isaac –Anchor Staff

Did you know classes this semester were cut short by a week? If you didn’t know you may be asking yourself if you missed an announcement or an email. You can look, but no such email exists.

The reason for the shortened semester is due to the failure of the calendar committee to schedule the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for commencement in time. Interim Provost of Academic Affairs Sue Pearlmutter explained that the venue the administration wanted was not available when they needed it to be, on May 18. Director of the Records Office Tameka Hardmon said she learned about the issue months after the calendar was published and reported it to Pearlmutter. Starting in August, Pearlmutter said she and the committee spent months trying to decide what to do. In the end they decided to schedule commencement for May 11 and cut the semester by a week.

How much faculty knew while the decisions were being made is uncertain. Hardmon said Pearlmutter was responsible for informing faculty, and according to Pearlmutter there were two emails sent. One was to inform faculty about the scheduling problem, a second email was a note about what the calendar committee decided to do. Pearlmutter was not sure of the clarity of those emails saying “I don’t think they realized that what I said was we’re going to start the week that we had planned, we’re going to end classes on April 30th.” As a result, faculty lost days to complete their grading.

She acknowledged this new schedule may be inconveniencing professors, “the last thing we wanted was to inconvenience anyone, but we didn’t have much choice.” She added that faculty will soon get a notice saying those professors not holding final exams can use that day as an additional class day.

Administrators knew, faculty would know later, so why didn’t students know? “If you want to know the truth I consider myself really student centered, but I didn’t think about writing a note to students,” Pearlmutter said. “I’ll take responsibility for that,” she continued.

She regretted her not informing students after reading a student opinion piece in the Anchor, “it didn’t occur to me that student’s decision making in this was a consequential part and reading it in the article made me think that I took something for granted.”

Moving forward, she mentioned implementing a five year plan for the calendar was already put in place to make sure such a scheduling conflict did not happen again. Pearlmutter emphasized the various ways the administration could reach out to students including blackboard, group projects and reaching out to the Anchor, but she did not mention sending out emails.

The best way to encourage communication, she said, was to get students to participate on the calendar committee. She acknowledged this may be difficult considering students don’t necessarily know there is a calendar committee. “It took me a couple of months to find out who they report to and who actually appointed them so if we don’t know it, I’m sure that students don’t know it.”