Boulder campus endorses changes to academic calendar, commencement

Published: Sept. 23, 2013

At the close of the 2013 spring semester, University of Colorado Boulder campus leadership began deliberations regarding changes to the academic calendar, with the goal of reinstating reading days before fall and spring final exams. The request for the return of this study period was launched by our student government (CUSG) and endorsed by the campus faculty assembly (BFA).

Reading days were eliminated from the academic calendar in 1999 to accommodate a student petition for a fall break, similar to the traditional spring break. In 2006, fall break was merged with the Thanksgiving break to provide a full week break at Thanksgiving.

In response to our student’s concerns regarding the quick transition from the instructional period to the final exam period, beginning with Fall 2014 (next calendar year) final exams will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday evening and continue through 10 p.m. Thursday evening. This will become the ongoing pattern for final exams, and will continue for both fall and spring terms. Students will have a minimum 47-hour period between the end of classes at 5 p.m. on the previous Friday and the first final exam. There will continue to be a total of 22 final exam periods.

“After reviewing the proposals from our students, faculty and the campus’ academic leadership, I am happy to support this commitment to academic rigor, “ said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “We have examined the advantages as well as the costs of this adjustment, and have made a change which will benefit our students for years to come.”

The change in the final exam calendar also requires changes to the Boulder campus commencement schedule. Also starting in fall 2014, the Friday after the final exam period will be open for the full day so that that our colleges, schools and departments can schedule individual recognition ceremonies. This will further eliminate the occasional conflict between a recognition ceremony and final exams.

After the Friday recognition ceremonies, the campus-wide Commencement will be held on Saturday morning. The first Saturday Commencement for the University of Colorado Boulder will be on Dec. 20, 2014. This will be the first Saturday commencement since the elimination of the summer commencement ceremony. 

Looking to the future, in 2017, fall classes will start on Aug. 28. As this would mean the winter 2017 Commencement would occur on Saturday, Dec. 23 - which is beyond the deadline established by campus policy - this will mark the end of the Winter Commencement ceremony. Department and college recognition ceremonies will still be held.

The change to the calendar will incur some small expenses for the campus, as we add an additional day to the workweek for a selection of our faculty and staff. This will be offset in the end by the elimination of the costs for the Winter Commencement ceremony. The campus will continue to look to our Commencement Committee and its dedicated cadre of volunteers to find innovative ways to celebrate the solemn tradition of commencement and support this calendar change.

As a campus, we are encouraged to see the return of this study period, and we invite you to mark your calendars for the return of reading days in fall 2014.