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Posted on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Fridays and early mornings: U-M turns to off-peak hours to fight classroom congestion

By Kellie Woodhouse


University of Michigan students fill the corridor inside of Mason Hall around midday, heading to and leaving crowded classrooms.

Angela J. Cesere |

University of Michigan students can expect more early morning and Friday classes in coming semesters because of a new scheduling policy that will go into effect next year.

Nearly 40 percent of U-M's classes are offered during the same three hours each day and very few classes are offered Fridays, said Martha Pollack, U-M's vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs.

The result is classroom buildings that are over congested from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (not including noon to 1 p.m.) and relatively empty during the early morning and late afternoon.

"Although we'd all like to teach Mondays through Thursdays, 10 to 11 a.m., we just can't do that," Pollack said.

Pollack said over-scheduling during peak hours, coupled with class start times that aren't congruent with an informal university practice of starting classes on the hour, have created "serious scheduling challenges" that often lead to a chaotic start of the semester, when a high percentage of classes have to move classrooms due to scheduling conflicts.

"So what are we going to do about this?" Pollack asked during a recent Faculty Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting. "We could build more classrooms, but money is tight ... the other option is to schedule more efficiently."

Thus, U-M will soon start requiring its 19 schools and colleges to offer more classes during off-peak hours, which include 8 and 9 a.m. and 3 and 4 p.m. Classes also will, for the most part, begin on the hour, instead of 15 or 30 minutes after the hour.

Additionally, if a school is not using all of its classrooms during an hour, the unused classroom buildings will become available to other schools, a process Pollack refers to as "backfilling." For example, if a classroom in the School of Social Work building is not claimed by social work faculty between 2 and 3 p.m., that classroom will become available to faculty in other schools and colleges during that time period.

"We've tried to be sensitive to academic priorities," Pollack said of the changes.

Nonetheless, Pollack said she expects some faculty and students won't be pleased with the changes.

"I anticipate resistance from some faculty who don't want to teach at 8 or 9 a.m. or on Fridays, from students who don't want to go to class at 8 or 9 a.m. or on Fridays," she said.

SACUA member and U-M professor Ed Rothman expressed concern about early morning classes, saying that if electives are offered during times generally considered undesirable by students elective enrollment could possibly decline.

Kim Kearfott, a medical school professor and SACUA vice chair, said students might be less receptive to class material during early morning classes.

“The young adult mind of a freshman or sophomore doesn’t work well early,” she offered.

Rothman also warned that researchers might not appreciate the change.

"We should be teaching more Fridays for pedagogical reasons but ... (there are) faculty who want to do research on Fridays," he said.

SACUA member and Otorhinolaryngology professor Charles Koopmann said that offering classes on Fridays could make scheduling more difficult for athletes and other university students who have to travel regularly.

The new scheduling plan will go into effect in January 2013, although schools will begin informally integrating the plan during the fall 2012 semester.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Christine Moellering

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I have been scheduling at the U for 14 years. I went to EMU during this time and took 8am Saturday classes. I think expanding the hours and "encouraging" faculty to explore more days/times is a great idea.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

My brother was a prof at Michigan, and I can guarantee you that much of this posting is absurd in regard to the professors. The idea that they work a time-card job is most ridiculous. He got a kind of stipend from the U., but much of his money came from his research, and he had to find his own research funding, 30 % for this project, 20% for that, etc. He also had a fairly heavy teaching load, and by all accounts, was great at it. He operated, as many (most?) profs do at a great research university: PUBLISH OR PERISH. No research, no publication. No publication, no job. From what I hear, it's no different now. If you think they take a three-day weekend every week, you're hallucinating or something.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

This is news to me. A major university that avoids Friday and Saturday classes?! We had 3 credit classes that met MWF, and 2 Credit classes that met T-TH. Some classes went M-F. A lot of labs were scheduled on Saturdays. I had 8:30s almost every day, with a few 7:30s thrown in. We didn't complain about this. It was what it was. AND personally, I had double day swim practice six days per week...depending on our meet schedule. All of this sure kept the partying down.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

I partied too...but still managed to work, graduate, and not overloaded with debt!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Yeah. Or a BS in Partying


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

That was my schedule too. i guess the BS in "Lack of Work Ethic" is one of the more popular majors in school today.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

Doesn't appear going into debt is a problem for U of M students!

Emma B

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

I have to echo TruBlue here, this is mostly an LSA problem (I'm assuming, anyway)-- I just graduated from the art school back in April and for 4 years I had Mon-Thu 8:30-4:30 with a break for lunch and had Friday classes all but a couple of semesters. I knew students in the art school that sometimes had three art classes in one day, meaning 8:30am-9:30pm with lunch and dinner breaks. Throw in internships, clubs, and jobs and I worked more while I was in school than I am now at my "big girl" job. The real world feels good! All of that having been said it was always incredible to me how congested it was on central campus during "peak hours," I am glad they are finally catching up to the ways of other departments.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

I don't see the news here. When I went to UM for engineering, I had 8:30am classes every semester. I guess this is just an issue on central campus.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

At my sons job they have Mandatory meetings starting at 5:30 am. maybe young minds don't do well early because they've never had to.Monday-Thursday 10.00am-3:00pm work schedule?that's not bad if you can pull it u suppose these profs and these students could find 10-3 Monday-Thursday employment in the REAL world?

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Factory schooling does not benefit the the teachers or professors and least of all the student. Smaller, more expensive schools to a much better job than these gigantic factories.

Rob Pollard

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

A big reason for no Friday classes (generally speaking) for students is those days are expected to be days you meet on the many group projects that are required for classes. Having a day with less classes frees that up. Now, of course, there are many students who will not use Fridays for that purpose, but trust me, go by the B-school lounge on a Friday - you'll see it packed with group meetings. Additionally, for commuting students, having classes on M-W or Tu-Th gives you less days you need to brave the AA roads and select from the copious amounts of parking. All that said, if U of M is going to continue to increase the number of students (or at least keep it at the high level of the last 4 years), more Friday classes are a given. There is only so much time in the week.


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

@Cici, how are students supposed to have late night meetings when we have 8am classes? There are plenty of classes offered at U of M that start at 8am, 8:30am and 9am. There are also classes that start after 4pm and even 6pm classes. There are plenty of MWF classes, and plenty of classes that are on Fridays, too. Mostly Friday morning. Is it reasonable to have students meet at 11pm to discuss a group project when they have to be up for other classes? What about students that commute and have jobs?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

Brave the roads?? I took some classes in the North Country (MN,ND) and believe me classes were held when you couldn't even see the road because of the snow! And that snow didn't melt ina day or two. As for group meetings, whats wrong with group meetings in the evenings? Or even weekends if they are that important?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

I agree with others here, if you schedule a class a student wants then they will take it, no matter the time. I know a couple students that have classes they want to get in to every semester that can't because they are full or are waiting for someone to drop so they can get into it. from a common sense standpoint. you are heating and cooling the building anyway, might as well get some bodies in the classroom. I also had a cousin who when he became a new professor (at another school) would have taught whatever he could when the professors with more seniority got first dibs on the more desirable class times.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

This is interesting...I teach at UofM, and I teach on Fridays and weekends (but I am not a tenured track research professor). I do a lot of virtual teaching (virtual classrooms) so maybe that makes a difference. I do find that the "research" professors tend to take the M-Th 9am to 4pm teaching times and tend to leave Fridays and evenings for GSIs and lecturers.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

As a student in the School of Nursing, I have had early morning classes aswell as clinicals on Fridays. My schedule usually consists of me going to class or clinical five days a week. If a student wants or needs the class they will attend it, no matter when it is scheduled. I get up at 5:00 am for some of my clinicals. In the nursing school, we are in the real world from the start.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

Ditto! I had clinical from 8 AM to 4:30 -5 five days a week for a straight year and I was often up by 5 AM too. Study and papers had to be done at other hours. Partying? What party? - no time for such a thing (not referring at all to Jenna above on that last comment).

Jeff Renner

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

Like many here, I am surprised that early morning, late afternoon and Friday classes are unusual. When I was a student at the U of M in the mid 60's, they were common. In the fall of '65, I even had a physics lab all Saturday morning. That really spoiled football Saturdays, as games back then started at 1PM, as God intended. I had a general survey of engineering class (what a mistake it was for me to try to be an engineer!) MWF at 8AM, and when students were straggling in late the first day or two, the professor (Edward Lady) paused and addressed the entire class, "Gentlemen (for engineering students were nearly all men then), the business world starts at 8AM, except New York and the West Coast, so unless you expect to work there, you'd better get used to it."

Kurtis S

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Ridiculous!!!! So they want UofM staff members to commute in using the bus. Now they want us to squeeze in with the students? Or even more fun, have to wait for the next bus because the 7:40am bus is too full (since students need to get to class by 8am).


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

And a staff member can't get up just as early as students to catch the 7:40 bus like the students do? Fight for addtional buses then. Buy a campus parking sticker, or take a city bus. I used to take a city bus by 7 AM to work on campus. I could transfer or get off and take a UM commuter bus!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

you wussss


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

I went to a small college where classes began at 7:40 a.m. and where classes were held on Saturday mornings until noon. Ah, the good old days.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

This is similar to what MSU has done for years. When I was there, we had classes from 8-5 as well as evening classes. And it was not unusual to have class for a specific subject in a completely unrelated building, if there was space available. Sounds like a great plan to me.

Spencer Thomas

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

I definitely had Saturday morning classes as an undergrad in the mid-70s. I also often dozed in my 8AM calculus class freshman year, before I learned that I really couldn't stay up until 3 every night and still make it to class in the morning. Luckily, calculus came easily to me. I also walked a mile to school all my life, in the snow, uphill both ways. (Truly -- there was also a downhill segment, of course.) -- Not quite a geezer, but getting there.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Well said! Nope! You can't stay up till 3 AM and be awake for an 8 AM ckass, You can't party every night. Come to think of it, if there is such overcrowding, why couldn't Saturday AM classes be an option, especially for non-elective classes that are "full"? I'm sure even some students would gladly have that option, just to get into a required course. Is there a contract for students and professers that they can't work on Saturdays? If I recall correctly , even WCC offers Saturday classes.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

When did the UM stop offering many early/ Friday courses? In my degrees there I think I always had at least one 8 or 9am class, and I never had a Friday without classes - a lot of classes met MWF. I'm not THAT old - when did things change?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Sorry - I meant GRAD students, not grand.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Perhaps they assigned it to grand students if they didn't like the hours. Are professers hired just to do research? I thought they were actually hired to teach first and foremost, and provide that "1st class" education UM was supposed to provide.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

When faculty refused to teach at those times!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

Contributing to this problem is that UM has very short semesters. Many/most universities have 15 week semesters. UM tried the trimester program years ago, then dropped it, but retained the shorter 12-13 week semester. How they get away with this decreased face-to-face classroom time, I don't know. In the grad schools, most 3-credit courses are taught for 1.5 hours on Tues and Thurs. All Fridays and Mondays off, doing research of course...

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

factory schooling...


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

When I was an undergrad I often had 8 am classes Mon - Sat, and my "young adult mind" seemed to handle it. To waste scarce resources on unneeded classrooms so students and faculty can have 3 day weekends is nonsense.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

I guess I've had my head in the sand....or snow, because this article leaves me stunned. HUH? My son is a college student (another university) and several of his required courses for his major are only offered at 8:00am and 3:00pm. My parents were both university profs and they always left the house before 8:00am. When I first read this headline I was thinking about expanding into evening courses. I realize it doesn't mean ALL classes are at 10:00, 11:00 and 1:00....but my goodness. There are plenty of good teaching/learning hours in the day. 9:00, 12:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00. Look there! More than double the opportunity to take/offer classes without too much thought. ;-)


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

I wanted to add that all classes SHOULD begin on the hour, or no later than 5 minutes after - no excuses. Professors where are you if classes sometimes begin 20 to 30 minutes after the hour??? Quite a lesson you are teaching. My university gave a 15 minute max after the hour for a class to begin and if the prof didn't show students could walk out. And they would complain if it happened often as they were PAYING for their classes. No class was to start later than 5 minutes after the hour. Nor should an instructor let students go after half an hour, no matter when it starts. Enforcement wasn't needed as I guess both students and instructors took teaching seriously.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Ditto here! I recall my non-elective University courses starting at 8 AM, MWF, and especially those by the best and/or most popular teachers; other classes at 7 AM. Evening courses? Of course! How do you think any working adults are able to go back to school on their own time for advanced degrees or retraining? It is disgusting that UM has NOT been making full use of it's facilities. Yet they want state funding for building repair and up-keep, if not new buildings. And state taxes have been raised on seniors and poorer classes in this state. Non-elective classes for every major should not be at "prime time" 10 to 2". These sh/could be scheduled at 8 AM and 4 or 5 PM, MWF. Professors, like students, can get up early in the AM for 8 AM classes, or resort to No-Doze, like many of my collegues did. If the majority of non-elective classes were scheduled at these "unpopular" times I am sure our university facilities would be used much more extensively and there would be much less overcrowding. In these days of smart phones, texting and email, changing the location of a class should be a snap, particularly if even announced the class before. If a student couldn't get up and missed the class and didn't check their email, tough!! Professors, the same goes for you. If you teach your class at 7 or 8 AM, you have the whole rest of the day for research, MWF!! Tenured professors, you also have a choice: Move on. Students: Welcome to the real world. And you hope to land a real job? A REAL job between 10 and 2? Well grow up! Real jobs between 10 AM to 2PM don't exist, unless you want to be a temp, sans flexible hours and benefits. Not even those professional jobs. As for teachers, are not a large number of courses taught by graduate student?? If UM administrators and/or Regents cannot put such plans into action and have classes scheduled starting by 8 AM and make full use of facilities, they should be replaced. And ALL classes should be

Janet Cannon

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

I recently completed a Master's degree at the U of M Music School, and I can assure you that the students there have classes from 8am to sometimes 7 pm. Even so, the school is also overcrowded, as music students need space for individual and group practice. Where does the institution decide its cut-off point for enrollment? That said, it's clear that serious time will need to be invested to find a fair distribution of class and research time for faculty, and to match early morning or Friday offerings with appropriate subjects.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

People complaining about Professors easy jobs don't understand that teaching is only 25% of their job description and even less % of their performance evaluation. The mission of a Research university is to teach AND to do research. Like it or not, professors are hired to do research first and then teach. Most professors I know work 60+ hours per week and work through the summer for FREE.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

Grow up. Do you realize how many jobs out there require people to actually work? I know very few people who get to work a 40 hour week. Many work on their days off and vacation (thank you Mr. Crackberry). P.S., they don't work the summer for "free". They receive a salary, which is an annual compensation.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

rationalizing the irrational.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

And how many classes can the typical undergrad expect to be taught by an actual PROFESSOR?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

Why else are students going to UM, other than to go to class?


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Welcome to the Real World Eggheads!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

My thoughts exactly!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

The real issue at U-M is not the way in which the classes are distributed throughout the week, it's that students can NOT even register for classes at all because they are all full, full, full! The University over-admitted students for at least 3 years in a row and there are simply not enough seats to go around. My son, who is graduating this spring, finally got in to a 100-level course he needed for his major! Dig a little deeper regarding this issue and interview some students; the frustration level is over the top!

A A Resident

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

Scheduling classes more evenly throughout the day and throughout the week, to ease congestion and avoid building more facilities? Quite a stroke of genius, from our institution of higher learning! LOL


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

hey this is not a big deal. michigan has so many buildings that are not used right. i heard not for sure but they have some that are not being used that should be.


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Early Friday morning class hours are not convenient due to late hours kept at the frats or "Charlies" Thursday nights!! Ah memories!


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

thirsty thursdays I believe it is called

Laura J

Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

I would like to know what type of research is being done on Friday... Maybe the kind that leads to a 3 day weekend??


Fri, Jan 13, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

Wouldn't want those professors to have to teach long hours, or even 5 days a week. And people complain about K-12 teachers not working, go figure!