Provost Dawkins plans to protect fall break

New Orleans (Nov. 15,2012) – Although Dillard students lost their two-day fall break because of Hurricane Isaac, the provost says she plans to add an “extra cushion” next year to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The good news is this year’s schedule includes having Wednesday off before Thanksgiving for a three-day holiday.

The fall semester was scheduled to start Aug 27, with fall break scheduled for Oct. 25-26. Instead, the entire first week was lost to the slow-moving hurricane, which caused flooding and power outages to hundreds of thousands in Louisiana. Faculty and students returned Tuesday, Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day.

Dr. Phyllis Dawkins, provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs, said the decision to take back fall break was a decision of the Senior Cabinet after consultation with the U.S. Department of Education, financial aid officials and other nearby schools.

Fall break was added to the Dillard University academic school schedule two semesters ago, a year after Dr. Dawkins began working as the senior vice president/provost of the university.

She said federal guidelines require students to attend classes for 15 weeks in order to receive aid.

“Next year I will add an extra cushion on the schedule in case we do have another storm,” said Dawkins.

Reaction among students was mixed: Some were looking forward to having the break, and some didn’t care one way or the other.

Ricknise Riggins, a senior mass communication major from New Orleans, noted she went through her first two years at Dillard without a fall break on the schedule.

“The reason for canceling fall break was very understandable, and I really don’t think that anything could have been done to avoid it,” she said.

Dawkins said it takes three to four months for the school’s academic schedule to be approved. The schedule goes through many hands before it is available for students, staff and faculty members, she added.