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Shorter final exam times, shorter semester

This year some changes have been made to Florida Gulf Coast University’s academic calendar. The 2015 spring semester ends May 1 this year, which is four days earlier than last year’s spring semester. More significantly, the time allotted by the school for final exams is half an hour shorter than last year, which forces some instructors to restructure their end-of-term tests.

The academic calendar was approved four years in advance, making this year’s changes final and absolute. The only exception to this rule is the faculty’s ability to request special changes to their individual schedules — for instance, a professor who needs an extra 15 minutes to administer his or her exam may ask for special accommodation.

Provost Ronald Toll, who oversaw these changes four years ago, insists that they should not be cause for concern for any students or faculty. The changes are quite minor, he says, but also necessary.

“The calendar was only modified by a few days, and the exam times by half an hour. This has to do with the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule change we implemented this year,” Toll said. “We have statutory requirements for how many hours classes meet each semester, and the changes are part of that.”

Toll claims that making calendar decisions four years in advance is a strategy that benefits students most of all. He says it allows students to make plans about winter break, spring break, graduation and other events far in advance. So far, he has not heard many complaints from faculty, either.

“Those requests for extra exam time, we’ve only had about five of those so far,” Toll said. “That’s out of hundreds of faculty members. These changes were carefully thought out, and they’re not causing any problems.”

Jon Braddy, a professor in the communication department, agrees that the changes are relatively minor and says that they have had little impact on his teaching.

“I still do my finals the same way I’ve always done them,” Braddy said. “I don’t think my students have anything to worry about.”

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