By JAY REY
Published February 1, 2023
UB will modify its academic calendar to include a two-day fall break in mid-October.
President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost A. Scott Weber approved the policy change following the Faculty Senate passing a resolution on Dec. 15 by a margin of 40 to 8.
Other changes to the academic calendar include:
“I welcome these adjustments to UB’s academic calendar, as they prioritize both our students’ well-being and their academic success,” Tripathi said. “Providing a break mid-way through the fall semester addresses our students’ need to pause from the demands of their academic schedules so they can then resume their coursework with a relaxed and rejuvenated mindset.
“Moreover, intentionally aligning UB’s academic calendar with Indigenous Peoples Day and Juneteenth offers our students an opportunity to reflect on our values as a diverse, inclusive and equitable scholarly community,” he said.
UB currently has no break until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving recess.
The new two-day break in the fall will couple the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October with a consecutive day off on that Tuesday to help students and faculty with their “fatigue and success by providing a meaningful break for rest, catching-up and/or visiting home.”
The changes to the calendar support the needs of the students; recognize necessary holidays to build a culture of diversity, social justice and inclusion; and are “minimal in practice and based on student and faculty feedback,” according to the Faculty Senate.
In a memo to deans, department chairs and Faculty Senate staff, Tripathi said it was his pleasure to approve the changes to the academic calendar and thanked all of those involved in developing the new policy.
In fact, changes to UB’s academic calendar have long been in the making to better align with that of its peers in the Association of American Universities, representing the nation’s top public research universities.
“This was one of the most important resolutions upon which the Faculty Senate acted in several years,” said Frederick W. Stoss, chair of the Faculty Senate.
“The Academic Policies and Grading Committee, under the leadership of Professor Joanne McLaughlin, provide an outstanding effort over nearly two years, including a comprehensive report complied over last summer,” Stoss said.
The changes to the calendar affect all UB degree programs except for the MD, JD and DDS programs, which have their own separate calendars. The changes received broad support across student government.
“These changes enhance the undergraduate student experience, provide more flexibility in undergraduate scheduling and otherwise recognize important dates and holidays in the undergraduate community and beyond,” Student Association President Becky Paul Odionhin, Vice President Sammi Pang and Treasurer Alana Lesczynski said in a letter to the Faculty Senate.
Graduate Student Association President J Coley, Vice President Jennifer Schechter and Treasurer Joshua Joseph also sent a letter of “complete support.” They asked that the changes be implemented on a year-to-year basis, starting with the 2023-24 academic year.
“While there is little scholarly evidence on the benefits of implementing a fall break, the GSA strongly believes that the proposed break will reduce our academic stress and benefit our mental health,” the officers wrote.
The 2023-24 academic calendar is available on the Registrar’s website.
It is a poor choice to maintain classes on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Many students skip these days to visit family. It leaves instructors and students in an awkward position, as often half the class is missing on these days.