Posted September 15, 2013

New academic calendar adds Fall Break, standardized features

Several changes are coming to the academic calendar starting in the fall of 2014, including a new Fall Break, moving Commencement from Thursdays to Fridays and standardized rules for the beginning and end of the semester.

"We wanted to establish a format for the semesters that can be repeated from year to year without creating disruption for teaching and our students," said Provost Hai-Lung Dai. "I've heard many concerns from faculty in recent years, and this new schedule meets those concerns."

Adding three days to the traditional Thursday and Friday holiday for Thanksgiving created the new Fall Break and was "a brilliant idea from President (Neil D.) Theobald," explained Dai. The university will be open Monday through Wednesday of that week, but no classes will be held.

Shifting Commencement from Thursdays to Fridays was done out of consideration for the growing number of students who have families coming from outside the area.

"Most schools hold these ceremonies between Friday and Monday, to give families from out of state a better opportunity to take part in the celebrations," Dai noted.

The new schedule also reduces the length of the Winter Break, but sets Commencement earlier than in the past, which should help students get a jump on the summer job market. Dai said his office is announcing the guidelines now to help students and faculty plan a year in advance.

The changes will not impact the holiday schedule for university employees.

The Office of the Provost drew up a set of guidelines to help standardize the semester schedule. Those guidelines, and how they will look when implemented for the 2014-15 school year, are:

  • Starting the Fall semester on the fourth Monday in August (Aug. 25, 2014).
  • Holding no classes on Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day or the Friday following Thanksgiving.
  • Creating a Fall Break to take place on Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24-26, 2014).
  • Ensuring that the semester has 14 class meetings, so classes will end on a Monday (Dec. 8, 2014).
  • Holding two study days after the last day of classes (Dec. 9-10, 2014).
  • Scheduling exams Thursday to Wednesday (Dec.11-17, 2014).
  • Starting the Spring semester on the first Monday following the second Saturday in January (Jan. 12, 2015).
  • Not holding classes on Martin Luther King Day, although the university will be open for business on that day.
  • Scheduling Spring Break to take place between the seventh and eighth week of the semester. (Feb. 28 to March 8, 2015) As is currently the case, the university will be open, but there will be no classes.
  • Ensuring that the semester has 14 class meetings, so classes will end on a Monday (April 27, 2015).
  • Holding two study days after the last day of classes (April 28-29).
  • Scheduling exams Thursday to Wednesday (April 30-May 6, 2015).
  • Holding honors ceremonies on the Thursday following classes (May 7, 2015).
  • Holding University Commencement on the following Friday morning (May 8, 2015).
  • Scheduling school/college diploma ceremonies on Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon (May 8-9, 2015).

The full schedule for the 2014-15 academic year has been posted at the Office of the University Registrar.