Senate Bill No. 0203-05


University Senate


University at Albany

State University of New York



Introduced by:          Educational Policies Council


Date:                     April 24, 2003



Modification of starting times for courses meeting in standard time zones


It is hereby proposed that the following be adopted


1.                 That the starting time for standard time-zones used for the scheduling of semester courses be revised as follows:

a.     Courses meeting MWF begin at 8:15am rather than 8:00am

b.     Courses meeting TTH begin at 8:45am rather than 8:15am

c.      That the starting time for courses in the standard time zones be adjusted accordingly  (see attached)


2.                 That this change become effective with the Fall 2004 semester.


3.                 That the EPC establish a review cycle for the purpose of considering modifications to the standard time-zones for three credit courses.


4.                 That this bill be referred to the President for approval.





          The Office of the Registrar issues guidelines each semester regarding “Available Time-Zones for Semester Course Scheduling”.  Those guidelines state, in part, “Classes are scheduled according to set ‘time-zone patterns’ in order to avoid student/course-schedule conflicts within a department and school, and on a university-wide basis.  These ‘time-zone patterns’ also allow greater academic space utilization, thus enabling the university to make maximum use of its academic facilities.”


          The basic semester time-zones for 3 credit courses distributed with the above guidelines provides for 32 standard time zones.  The proposed revision will include 36 standard time zones, and provides additional standard time zones for courses meeting once or twice a week, as follows:


Three credit Courses meeting 3 times per week:  (six time zones)

          MWF           8:15-9:10am                 9:20-10:15am          10:25-11:20am

                             11:30am-12:25pm          12:35-1:30pm          1:40-2:35pm


Three credit courses meeting 2 times per week (12 time zones)

          TTH             8:45-10:05am          10:15-11:35am          11:45am-1:05pm

                             1:15-2:35pm                 2:45-4:05pm                 4:15-5:35pm

                             5:45-7:05pm                 7:15-8:35pm

          MW              2:45-4:05pm                 4:15-5:35pm      

                             5:45-7:05pm                 7:15-8:35pm      


Three credit courses meeting once per week (18 time zones)

          M/T/W/TH/F                2:45-5:35pm                 4:15-7:05pm

          M/T/W/TH                    5:45-8:35pm                 7:15-10:05pm



          It should be noted that courses are scheduled on the basis of the requests submitted by the school/college/department and the individual educational programs and needs of these respective units.  This proposal of the standard time-zones for three credit courses does not limit the current flexibility for scheduling courses.  Studio courses, mini-courses, beginning languages meeting 4 or 5 days a week, four-hour seminars, one hour discussion sections linked with a lecture course, laboratory courses, and all other forms of “non-standard” time-zones will continue.  






The University’s Official Schedule of Classes dates back several decades, and there is little knowledge of how some of its idiosyncratic features came to be.  The proposed adjustment to the schedule is intended to spread activity more evenly across the week, reducing peak demands on classrooms and parking, and increasing the range of choices for students and faculty.



Why change the Basic Semester Time-Zones for 3-Credit Courses? 


·      Demand for classrooms is excessively concentrated on TTH and in the late morning and early afternoon.  The University has insufficient classroom capacity at these critical times.

·      Demand for bus seats and parking spaces is excessively concentrated in the same periods, causing frustration and late arrivals in classes.

·      Because classes are concentrated on TTH and in the late morning and early afternoon, students have less effective choice of courses, because they often find that several of the courses that they want or need to take are scheduled at the same time.

·      Enrollment and attendance are low at classes that start at 8:00 AM and at 8:15 AM

·      For lower division undergraduate classes, attendance at Friday afternoon classes is often low.

·      Though some instructors prefer three short classes a week (MWF), most prefer a two- or one-class per week format.

·      Though there are no gaps on the current MWF schedule beyond the 10 minutes assumed necessary to move between successive classes, the current TTH schedule has gaps from 12:35 to 1:00 PM and from 3:50 to 4:15 PM.  Closing up these gaps permits a later start in the morning, making the first class more attractive to most faculty and students.



What principles have been used in preparing the adjusted version of the schedule?


Changes should increase the scheduling choices available to both faculty and students.