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A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - November 2021

By Mary Jane Chew

Academic “Winter Flex” term under consideration

A proposal for a new, four-week Winter Flex term over the winter break is now under consideration by undergraduate and graduate students, instructors, faculty and staff. The intent of the new proposal is to create an innovative educational experience to enhance student success while also addressing the concerns articulated about the prior proposal for a January Term.  The Winter Flex proposal presents a revision of the original idea and is intended to incorporate the positive elements of the original January Term proposal, while addressing the stated concerns of faculty, staff, and students.

“We listened to the feedback we received on the initial J-Term proposal,” said Kris Wong Davis, vice provost for enrollment management and co-chair of the Winter Flex working group. “The Winter Flex proposal is a result of continued discussions with key constituents and incorporates many ideas of the original group that developed the January Term proposal.”

The proposal indicates that Winter Flex would be in session for four weeks in December and January and include the following key elements:  

  1. The Winter Flex term would offer opportunities for students to take online courses and to participate in Study Abroad, activities that can be conducted flexibly in the four weeks between the fall and the spring semesters – students would not be on campus for the Winter Flex term. 
  2. Winter Flex would be voluntary and optional for faculty, instructors, graduate students, and undergraduate students.
  3. Winter Flex would involve no change in faculty and graduate student compensation for those who do not participate; those who do teach or support Winter Flex and who are not on contract during that time would be compensated for their effort.
  4. Winter Flex would require some staff to work during the winter closure to support students. ITaP, Financial Aid, Registrar, Advising, Finance and others would need to plan for staffing during this time. However, students would not be on campus, so physical in-person services would not need to be provided. Appropriate compensation would be provided for those supporting Winter Flex and who are not on contract during that time.
  5. The Winter Flex term would officially recognize the Christmas and New Year’s holidays as non-instructional days.
  6. No student would be admitted as a student to the Winter Flex term nor would any student be able to achieve degree conferral during this term.
  7. The Winter Flex proposal offers minimal adaptations to the spring calendar in order to accommodate the four-week winter term.  Assuming our current 16-week semester, spring term would begin one week later and commencement would take place one week later.  Spring Break would be kept consistent in order to address concerns about local school district breaks. A 15-week fall and spring semester is also being explored and feedback on this idea is being sought from faculty, staff, and students. Proposed calendars can be found as a part of the proposal online. 

 Download/Read the Winter Flex proposal here