BATON ROUGE, La. – Southern University is switching to a four-day class week in January by doing away with Friday courses.
Chancellor James Llorens told The Advocate of Baton Rouge the university is making the switch to save on utility costs in buildings and to free up more time on Friday for student advising and faculty office hours.
“It’s more of a four-day class schedule than a four-day workweek,” Llorens said, emphasizing that employees will still work on Fridays.
The decision would make Southern the first public university in Louisiana to condense classes to four days year round.
Some universities in the state though do have four-day schedules with no classes after noon on Friday.
“The students think it’s a great idea,” Llorens said. “I think you’ll see more institutions starting to move to it.”
The change is made by lengthening classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Those 50-minute classes will be extended to one hour and 20 minutes each, which is the same as how most classes operate on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Southern Student Government Association President Demetrius Sumner said word about the four-day schedule is beginning to leak out to students. The students largely seem supportive, he said, but they have a lot of questions because the university has not informed them yet.
“A three-day weekend is much more energizing,” Sumner said. “If it proves to be a cost savings, then it’s a double whammy.”
The university also might end the work day at noon on Fridays as well, Llorens said, but that decision has not yet been made.
Southern University System President Ronald Mason Jr. said he questions whether the change will save much money. But he said he supports Llorens’ decision.
“As long as it makes sense for the campus, it’s fine with me,” Mason said.
Southern has continually debated this fall whether to declare a financial emergency, called exigency, because of ongoing budget problems for the main Baton Rouge campus.
The Southern Board of Supervisors may consider exigency again on Friday.
But Llorens said the four-day class schedule does not require Board approval.
Student registration for spring courses is being delayed until later in November as the scheduling details are finalized, Llorens said.
Sumner said he believes the shorter schedule will make for better, “more coherent” faculty lectures.
“It’s not much, an extra 30 minutes,” Sumner said of the longer classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Students will then have more time on Fridays to focus on class assignments, work and socializing, he said.
Southern Faculty Senate President Sudhir Trivedi said he is OK with the four-day class week.
But Trivedi emphasized that a change would not mean professors are working less. Fridays will just focus their time more on advising and academic research projects, he said.