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Faculty Votes To Shave 1 Day From Exams

By Andrew S. Chang

Final exam period will be shortened from nine to eight days next year, Dean of Undergraduate Education Lawrence Buell announced yesterday at the meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).

Buell said many students and faculty members were dissatisfied with the current spring exam period, which ends on the Saturday prior to Memorial Day.

"The academic year now goes into Memorial Day weekend and that causes all sorts of problems," said Registrar Georgene B. Herschbach in a meeting of the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) last month. The proposal had previously been discussed at the CUE meeting.

Buell also said yesterday that removing the ninth day from the fall exam period would add an extra day to intersession.

"There is a very short turnaround time between the fall and spring terms," Herschbach said at the CUE meeting. "Students ask us for more breathing room between terms."

But Buell said the change would also result in more courses with tentative exam dates designated as "to be announced."

A slightly larger number of courses would not have examination dates specified until after the start of the semester, Buell said.

The proposal, which is temporarily only in effect for the coming academic year, was successfully reviewed by the house masters and by the Faculty Council, according to Buell.

The most recent change to the final exam period, which took place in the early 1990s, shortened the period from 11 to nine days.

"[The shorter exam period] had been implemented without any visible murmur or anguish," Buell said.

Buell also announced changes in the schedule for the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 academic years to avoid conflicts with Jewish holidays.

In 1998, classes will begin Wednesday, September 16--three class days earlier than usual--to avoid conflict with Rosh Hashanah. And in 1999, classes will start Tuesday, September 21, one day late, to avoid conflict with Yom Kippur. The additional day, necessary to complete the required 125 instructional days for the year, will be added to the spring 2000 term.

Fall term classes ordinarily begin the third Monday in September.

Medical Leave Proposal Passes

The Faculty finally approved a change to the Handbook for Students which would allow the dean of the College to place a student on medical leave of absence.

At a Faculty meeting earlier this month, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 agreed to withdraw the proposal and resubmit it after several faculty members had voiced objections to the language and substance of the proposed change.

According to the amended proposal, the dean of the College may place a student on "Leave of Absence for Medical Reasons" in situations in which "the student poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the student or others, or has seriously disrupted others..., and the student's behavior or threatening state is determined to be the result of a medical condition, or the student refuses to cooperate with efforts deemed necessary by University Health Services."

Benefits Committee

Yesterday's Faculty meeting also included an interim report presented by Professor of Sociology Peter V. Marsden on the activities of the FAS Committee on Benefits and the University Benefits Committee (UBC).

Marsden reported that the University has approved two recommendations made by the UBC to increase the retirement benefits for faculty and staff.

The first change reestablishes the level of Harvard's annual pension contributions for faculty members under 40 years of age at 5 percent of salary, up from the current 4 percent. In 1994, the University reduced its contribution to all faculty pension plans by one percent.

Marsden said the UBC thought the 1994 cut was disproportionately harsh on younger faculty members.

The second change provides cost-of-living adjustments to faculty and staff retirees covered under the 1950 Pension Plan.

Marsden said the original plan, which did not include cost-of-living adjustments, seriously eroded the purchasing power of retirees under the plan.

He also reported on the UBC's review of the health care benefits the University provides to faculty and staff.

Marsden said the University will soon make changes to the health care options it offers in response to the mergers of several major health plans. But he said the committee, at the request of several faculty members, will attempt to preserve and expand options in the plan that offer physician choice.

Marian J. Hennessy-Fiske contributed to the reporting of this story.CrimsonAnna-Marie L. TaborThunderstorms didn't stop students from taking advantage of the warm weather in Harvard Yard yesterday.

Benefits Committee

Yesterday's Faculty meeting also included an interim report presented by Professor of Sociology Peter V. Marsden on the activities of the FAS Committee on Benefits and the University Benefits Committee (UBC).

Marsden reported that the University has approved two recommendations made by the UBC to increase the retirement benefits for faculty and staff.

The first change reestablishes the level of Harvard's annual pension contributions for faculty members under 40 years of age at 5 percent of salary, up from the current 4 percent. In 1994, the University reduced its contribution to all faculty pension plans by one percent.

Marsden said the UBC thought the 1994 cut was disproportionately harsh on younger faculty members.

The second change provides cost-of-living adjustments to faculty and staff retirees covered under the 1950 Pension Plan.

Marsden said the original plan, which did not include cost-of-living adjustments, seriously eroded the purchasing power of retirees under the plan.

He also reported on the UBC's review of the health care benefits the University provides to faculty and staff.

Marsden said the University will soon make changes to the health care options it offers in response to the mergers of several major health plans. But he said the committee, at the request of several faculty members, will attempt to preserve and expand options in the plan that offer physician choice.

Marian J. Hennessy-Fiske contributed to the reporting of this story.CrimsonAnna-Marie L. TaborThunderstorms didn't stop students from taking advantage of the warm weather in Harvard Yard yesterday.

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