Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Havre’s local university is collecting input from its campus community on the idea of switching to a four-day class week. “We’ve experimented with what this would look like,” said Jim Potter, director of Public Relations at Montana State University-Northern. “That doesn’t mean this is a done deal. Far from it.” The university is looking at the possibility of switching to holding classes Monday through Thursday, with more evening classes and some offerings on the weekend. Fridays would primarily be used for laboratory work, one-day workshops and travel time for athletic competition. Potter said the idea is to both make Northern unique in its programming in the state and also to make it easier for students to attend college, particularly students who are also working full-time. “We want to create some flexibility, have some classes in the evening so people who work eight-tofive can take classes, maybe offer more in the weekend,” he said. Creating more travel time for athletics would also be a major benefit, Potter said. About 20 percent of Northern’s students are involved in extracurricular activities, causing them to miss many classes, especially on Friday. “That’s huge for our athletes, that they're not missing Friday classes when they compete,” he said. The sample matrix created by the university has most classes running from 7 a.m to 4 p. m., with slightly longer classes held in many cases. Potter said that the three-credit classes now offered on Tuesday and Thursday are already longer, this proposal would switch the three-credit classes now held Monday- Wednesday-Friday to about the same length as the Tuesday-Thursday classes. Five-credit classes now held Monday through Friday would also be scheduled longer on a Monday through Thursday offering. The schedule would also offer classes starting at 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with athletic practices and other extracurricular events like club meetings held between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. each weekday. Potter said the sample matrix is not finalized in any way if the university does decide to switch to a four-day week, it could be substantially changed before it were finalized. “We’re working hard to establish a matrix that everyone could work with,” he said. The idea of looking at a four-day week started several years ago, when then-Chancellor Alex Capdeville set up a committee to look at marketing the university. Potter said the committee looked at fourday class programs used by other universities around the country, and wanted to explore it as an option to create a unique program at Northern, carving out a market distinction for the university in Montana. Potter said the discussion so far has simply been collecting input from members of the campus community, primarily through the campus e-mail system. No meetings have been scheduled to discuss the idea at this point, he said, although the student senate at Northern is considering holding an open forum with students at some time in the future.