May Term committee

by Kelly Sander

By Kelly Sander

Staff Writer

May Term’s future could be at stake later this year whenfaculty, administrators and students begin looking into changingthe college’s academic calendar, Academic Dean Bruce Haddoxsaid.

Haddox said he hopes to have the panel in place by the end ofMarch, and the group will spend a year studying ways to easefaculty workloads while keeping some of May Term’s best features -including international travel and internships.

“There are problems with the calendar that we’re on,” saidHaddox. “There always have been problems, but they’re getting worseas we’re growing.”

Simpson started a January Term in 1967, shifting to a May Termabout 20 years ago. While the three-week term is popular withstudents, Haddox said Simpson’s growth in recent years makes itdifficult for the college to keep offering it.

Simpson’s scheduled re-accreditation from the North CentralAssociation is what prompted Haddox to appoint the panel. As partof the re-accreditation process, college presidents from schoolssimilar to Simpson make a detailed examination of the college’sprogram and suggest changes if they’re needed.

One of the problems with May Term is the workload it creates forfaculty members. Keeping professors busy during the first twosemester cuts back on their time to prepare for May Term and theirability to offer courses during the fall and spring term.

There’s also a problem in that many students take it easy in theclassroom during May Term. While Haddox said many faculty anddepartments historically have offered challenging May Term courses,the general rule has been that “if a substantial class was offered,nobody would take it.”

Still, Haddox said the college will keep international-travelprograms, internships and job-shadowing programs even if May Termis dropped. Depending on the year, between 150-250 Simpson studentstravel abroad during May Term.

“We have to be able to travel,” said Haddox.

The task force will look at similar colleges and the waysthey’ve set up their academic calendars in recent years.

“I’m coming to the end of my 10 years as dean,” said Haddox, whoplans to retire within two years and wants to deal with thepotentially hot political issue before a new dean comes to thecollege. “I don’t believe that looking at the calendar is an issuethat a new academic dean would take up for a while.

“Looking at the calendar causes all kinds of ripples across thecommunity,” he added. “There’s no use putting a new [dean] in thatmix.”

Haddox said he’ll ask the panel to study the issue for a yearand make a recommendation by June 2005. Haddox said he’d like tohave two members of the graduating class of 2005 on the taskforce.

“I want to get people who don’t have a particular agenda,” saidHaddox. “I want somebody to look at it objectively.”

He also wants the committee to focus on the quality of educationstudents receive.

“How can we deliver a better quality?” Haddox asked. “That’s theissue we need to look at.”

Haddox said that, while the possibility of reforming thecalendar isn’t easy for everyone to accept, it’s still important toconsider changes.

“I know there are some people maybe concerned that this study isfor the purpose of doing away with this calendar and gettinganother one,” said Haddox. “That’s not specifically the purpose ofit. But that might be the result of it.”