Published: Nov. 6, 2023

At its monthly general assembly meeting Nov. 2, the Boulder Faculty Assembly discussed a second option for an academic calendar proposal, then opted to cancel a poll it had issued to members, revising it to address emerging faculty concerns.  

The assembly heard the first academic calendar revision option—assembled by a working group led by Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning and Assessment Katherine Eggert and CU Registrar Kristi Wold-McCormick, presented by Eggert—at its October meeting. 

After a month of feedback by BFA representatives and faculty at large, and a negative vote by the Faculty Senate in the College of Arts and Sciences, Eggert presented a new option to the BFA on Thursday that proposed an “early start” to the academic year designed to meet more faculty, student and operational needs. 

Like the first version of the proposal, the second would reduce instructional days from 73 per semester to 70, giving CU Boulder 140 instructional days per academic year, precisely the number of instructional days offered by peer universities such as the universities of Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. 

Eggert outlined the revised proposal’s distinctive features, which she said were responsive to faculty, student and operational feedback:  

  • Finals would be on weekdays and not weekends.
  • A mid-semester reading day would be held on Thursday in week seven of the fall and spring semesters.
  • An earlier start in the fall would help the Division of Student Affairs separate orientation from move-in and the start of classes, and would promote health and safety by giving new students less unstructured free time before classes start.
  • The last day of classes would be on a Friday, with a Saturday-Sunday reading period and finals beginning on a Monday, lasting until the following Friday.

Discussion centered largely on concerns raised by departments that teach laboratory courses in the natural sciences in Arts and Sciences, some of which cancel classes in a week with a holiday and thus could lose a week of instruction time in a “short week” caused by the proposed mid-semester reading day. 

Eggert said she felt confident that since peer research universities had worked out the challenge, CU Boulder could, too. 

Others were more concerned. BFA member Ravinder Singh of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology said he thought the kinks should be worked out before any kind of approval. BFA members Kevin Stenson of Physics and Janet Casagrand of Integrative Physiology agreed. 

Similar concerns emerged at a Nov. 3 chairs and directors meeting hosted by Provost Russell Moore, and the combined input from that meeting and the BFA meeting convinced BFA leadership to halt a poll it had launched on Friday for BFA representatives to allow it to be reconstituted and extended to mid-November.

The new poll is being finalized by the BFA Executive Committee and will be sent to representatives early this week, said BFA Program Manager Lynne Howard. 

The poll results will be forwarded to Chancellor Philip DiStefano, who will also receive a recommendation on the new calendar by Moore and Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke. 

In other BFA action

The assembly:

  • Heard a presentation from Senior Associate Athletic Director Kris Livingston on how faculty can partner with Intercollegiate Athletics to support student-athlete academic achievement, which she noted is at an all-time high with the highest grade point average (3.1540) ever recorded for student athletes last spring.

  • Received a final reading of a “Resolution for Urgent Climate Change Action” that endorses prioritizing climate change and sustainability actions as “the central focus of our campus-wide initiatives” through “education, research, outreach and communication.” BFA Chair Shelly Miller encouraged the assembly to read and disseminate the resolution before a vote at next month’s assembly meeting, saying she continues to “bring up in conversation with the administration that faculty really care and really want to see more done (on climate change). I think it’s important they hear from us. We need to make progress here.” 

  • Was introduced to one resolution on BFA Bylaws Updates Reflecting Current Membership, Election and Voting Rights and another on proposed changes to the BFA Standing Rules for Committee Chair Selection processes

  • Received an update by BFA Vice Chair and CU Faculty Council Chair Alastair Norcross on Administrative Policy Statement (APS) 5060 revisions that allow for changes to titles for instructional, clinical and research faculty. 

  • Reviewed results of a survey by the BFA’s diversity committee on how academic units integrate diversity, equity and inclusion work into faculty merit evaluations

  • Heard an update from Miller on her conversations with CU President Todd Saliman on the importance of a strong faculty presence on the chancellor search committee. Miller said she sent Saliman 33 faculty nominations and urged him to reserve eight slots for faculty on the committee. Miller said she told Saliman the qualities desired in a new chancellor include “someone committed to diversity; someone who is transparent, a good communicator, equity focused, and with a forward-thinking approach to climate action.” 

For more information, visit the BFA’s website.