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Bearings: News and Perspectives for Academic Affairs

Bearings: News & Perspectives for Academic Affairs

Making the Pieces Fit with the University Calendar Committee

Nov 12, 2012, 01:30 am - Carey Adams

Last week was a busy one -- SGA Town Hall Meeting, International Week, the national election, Pirate Preview -- so it may seem surprising that a committee meeting, of all things, made a lasting impression on me.  The University Calendar Committee consists of about 15 faculty, staff and administrators from all the campus divisions.  This committee's job, to coordinate preparation of the university's academic calendar, is not terribly glamorous.  You would notice if the group did its work poorly, but otherwise you likely don't even notice it exists.  That is true of much of the service work necessary to operate the campus.  If you want to gain appreciation for how intricately connected are the many parts of a university, give this committee a try.  I am reminded of one of those "magic square" puzzles where moving one piece to where it belongs requires moving every other piece in just the right order.

More than the complexity of the task, what impressed me was the group's spirit of cooperation and willingness to entertain novel solutions.  Everyone has a vested interest.  The Registrar needs to make sure we comply with state requirements; the faculty want to have adequate time to finish grading at the end of the term; the residence life staff need to manage move-in days; and the Financial Aid Office always is racing the clock to process aid packages.  But, even though every person at the table knew what would make their jobs easier, they were equally concerned with the impact of certain changes on everyone's ability to work effectively.  The group includes vice presidents, academic administrators, staff members, and faculty, all contributing equally to the discussion and decision making.

This may not be the university at its showiest, but it is the university at its best.

Have a great week,

Carey