SUNY Canton Moves to Four-Day Academic Schedule
Courses offered Monday through Thursday next semester
SUNY Canton will be switching to a four-day academic schedule beginning in Spring 2009 in an effort to cut operating costs and increase sustainability across campus.
On-campus courses will be offered primarily from Monday through Thursday under SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy’s plan to reduce expenditures in the light of the state’s system-wide budget cuts.
“We originally began considering a four-day academic schedule as a way for our students and faculty to save money when gas prices were over $4 a gallon,” Kennedy said. “The state budget and current economic climate continue to make it a viable plan to reduce operating costs. We are the best that we’ve ever been at this College, and we plan to continue our growth in all areas while simultaneously becoming smarter in the way we conduct our business.”
Kennedy is also systematically researching ways to decrease the College’s environmental footprint. “Now we will be heating buildings one day less and fewer people will be driving to and from campus, drastically reducing our collective carbon emissions in addition to saving on utility costs,” he said.
Another benefit of offering a four-day schedule is that students can take all of their classes in as little as two days per week, which allows the flexibility to work or fulfill family obligations. The move will also allow the Student Activities Office the opportunity to plan more multi-day events.
Kennedy pointed out that the extraordinary popularity of SUNY Canton OnLine (also known as SUNY Canton OL) helped him decide that this was the proper course of action for the College. In the Fall 2008 Semester more than 1150 students were taking at least one of the College’s 104 online courses, and approximately 285 students were taking courses online only.
“Students and faculty are designing their respective schedules and courses to incorporate even more online components,” noted Molly Mott, Dean of Academic Services and Retention. “That has given students increased flexibility in their schedules and allowed them to better balance their other obligations like work, family, and activities.”
Portions of College’s workforce, including some of the maintenance and facilities staff, have already begun working on a four-day schedule. The results have been phenomenal, according to Kennedy.
Not every aspect of the College will shut down on Fridays. The Southworth Library, the Fitness Center, Admissions, The Business Office, and other key locations will remain open for the fifth day. The College has also made plans to continue any course and work schedules that cannot be altered. In the past, only about 15 percent of the College’s courses were offered on Friday.
“In essence, we ended up distributing Friday’s schedule throughout the other days of the week,” Kennedy said. “Between offering more online courses and expanding some class options, the change wasn’t nearly as difficult as we originally thought it might be.”
Other colleges that have switched to a four-day academic schedule include Brevard Community College in Florida, which saved almost $474,000 in energy costs during its first year with the schedule, according to a recent Inside Higher Ed article. The College also reported a 50 percent reduction in the number of reported sick hours used by employees and a 44 percent reduction in staff turnover.
Missouri State University at West Plains moved to a four-day schedule in Fall 2007 and saw an 11 percent enrollment increase over the previous fall semester. Not only did the introduction of the new schedule bring more students, but those students also enrolled in more credit hours.
The SUNY Canton Admissions Office is reporting that applications for next year are currently up nearly 45 percent from last year. The College set an all-time enrollment high this Fall with more than 3,000 students.
SUNY Canton offers a wide variety of career-driven bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs, as well as three master’s degrees in conjunction with SUNYIT, Utica. Most of SUNY Canton’s new four-year programs are designed so students can take them on-campus, online, or both. SUNY Canton OnLine features more than 100 courses online each semester. The college’s athletic teams belong to the NAIA’s Sunrise Conference, enabling students to compete in their respective sports for four years.
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