UNH extends semester with optional Tuesday

By Sarah Toole
On April 22, 2014

Unlike high schools, the University of New Hampshire does not have unexpected snow days built into its academic schedule. As a result, the semester has officially been extended for one day and will end on Tuesday, May 6. However, there is a twist to this extension: It's not mandatory. 

Why would UNH choose to do this?

After enduring an unusually harsh winter, some faculty members and students felt it was necessary to have a make up class to cover the material that was missed due to the snow days.te topics listed in the catalog/syllabus.

"The extra day gives teachers who lost time with their students an opportunity to go over material that might otherwise have been uncovered," Andy Merton, professor and chair of the English department, said.

This class time could be used as a time for review, and Merton and other faculty members believe this gives them increased flexibility.

 "We were snowed out one Tuesday, but I made up for it with an intense workshop the following week and with extra conferences with my students, so I don't feel the need to have an extra class," Merton said. Merton teaches a once-a-week, two-and-a-half hour essay-writing workshop for graduate students.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. P.T. Vasudevan explained how he received a number of emails from concerned faculty and students about the number of missed days and the inability to complete topics listed in the catalog/syllabus.

"Since we have two reading days in the spring, after consultation with the Faculty Senate, the Academic Standards and Advising Committee and the Student Senate, we decided to convert one of the reading days to a 'make-up' day," Vasudevan said.

Vasudevan also explained why the extended day is not mandatory. He said, "We did not make it mandatory since some faculty may not need the extra day to complete the material in the syllabus, and students may have made other plans for the reading day."

While some see this extension as useful, others view it as limited.

"Because the statement encouraged faculty not to make attendance mandatory, I thought the best use of that time would be as an optional study session for the final exam," Timm Triplett, an associate psychology professor at UNH, said. 

Some professors and faculty members are not sure what the official purpose of this extension is.

"I've been here fifteen years and I can't remember ever having one before," wrote English professor Clark Knowles in an email. "Since it's not mandatory, and anything that is covered in the class has to be made available to all students via online postings or email, I can't imagine any teacher really utilizing it for anything important.

"It feels like an administrative thing rather than something that the teachers need," Knowles said.

There are also some students who view this administrative decision as irrelevant and pointless.

"If they don't make the extension mandatory, do they really expect a good outcome on their attendance list?" sophomore Kelsie Aufiero said.

"Chances of students showing up the day after Cinco de Mayo are not very likely," junior Brian Malnati said.

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