Dear RISD Community,
I hope that Academic Year 2014-15 is going well for you all. As we start to plan for accreditation, Campus Master Plan, and other strategic initiatives, we have to make decisions about the coming years. One of the important decisions that we need to make concerns the academic calendar and establishing the dates, not only for our planning but also for our students and their families.
There are many complex factors that determine our academic calendar. Currently we have a Fall semester of 60 days teaching, 1 day for examinations, and 4 days for crits. Our Spring Semester is also of 60 days, followed by a reading day, 1 day for examinations, and 5 days for crits. In between we have WinterSession.
In thinking about how to resolve the many issues around WinterSession, meet our contractual obligations – both internal and external – respond to internship needs etc. I have spoken to many people and committees and ended up with a split vote every time. However, a decision needs to be made.
Taking everything into account, working with the WinterSession Committee, Instruction Committee, the Registrar, the Provost Council, and the Parent’s Council I have decided that we will set the calendar for 2015-16 based on a five week WinterSession. For the coming year this meets the requirements for Commencement as well as the one-week contractual break between WinterSession and Spring Semester, and also allows space to make up any teaching days lost due to inclement weather. Looking ahead, this model continues to work for the majority of years to come as well.
I hope that by making this decision we can begin to focus on developing more classes that better represent the original intent of WinterSession as a place for exploring new practices and ways of teaching. A short semester does not suit all types of pedagogies, but then again, neither does a 14-week semester. I have asked the WinterSession Committee to look at the scheduling issues for classes and ways of encouraging pedagogic innovations in WinterSession.
In addition I have asked the Registrar, Steven Berenback to set up a project team to look at the current discrepancy/imbalance of the number of days designated to crits in the Fall and Spring semesters.
As part of the Campus Master Plan, Annie Newman will be setting up a project team to look at the scheduling of our spaces. The project team will include representation from all parts of RISD including Foundation Studies, Liberal Arts, and Continuing Education. I will be working with Annie, Jean Eddy and the Deans to think about the make up of the team and the questions we should be looking at.
If you have any comments or queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.
29 October 2014