The disruption expected when the Democratic National Convention comes to Charlotte next year may force a significant adjustment to the academic calendar at UNC Charlotte.
The university may push back the start of the fall 2012 semester by more than three weeks to both accommodate infrastructure demands from convention visitors and to avoid disruptions caused by the event, which is expected to draw 35,000 to the Queen City.
"It would be very difficult to conduct regular business with the convention going on," said Phil Dubois, UNCC's chancellor. "If the president comes to town, everything stops."
Currently, fall classes next year are slated to start Aug. 20. But Dubois told members of the UNC system's Board of Governors this week classes may be pushed back 25 days.
"It looks like we could make it work if we push close to Christmas," Dubois said, adding that the university may add Saturday classes to help make up the lost class days.
The convention is slated for the week of Sept. 3, and UNCC's downtown facility is just three blocks from the convention site.
In addition, the university has been asked to help provide housing for visitors; Dubois has offered up 1,500 residence hall beds but will charge $500 per person per night. That's what the university needs to charge to make up for lost revenue.
UNCC would have to alter contracts for student housing and food service and make other adjustments that, in total, would cost the university $3 million.
"There's a cost to our cooperation," Dubois said. "We're not going to do anything to be subsidizing the Democratic National Convention."
The university also hopes to turn the convention into a learning lab for some of its students. It hopes to place some as volunteers and perhaps create courses that involve the convention; a fourth summer session may be squeezed in during the 25-day delay at the end of the summer, Dubois said.
"Yes, it's an inconvenience," he said. "But with that inconvenience comes a chance to do something meaningful. The faculty see it as an opportunity for students."