Penn State Intercom......April 18, 2002

An Academic Calendar Chronology

Calendar changes
Statement from President Spanier


Debate about -- and changes to -- the University calendar are nothing new. A great deal of time has been spent in the effort to come up with a calendar that addresses the needs of both the students and the University.

The calendar changes announced this week by President Graham B. Spanier are the latest chapter in a long history of change. The following chronology describes calendar changes and discussions during the past 45 years.

* * *

October 1957: Incoming President Eric A. Walker stressed the need to change the calendar to achieve year-round operation.

February 1960: The Faculty Senate voted to give calendar authority to the administration, noting that excellence is possible under any calendar system.

October 1960: Walker announced the four-term system, effective in the summer of 1961. The fall term began about Oct. 1 and the spring term ended in late May.

June 1961: The Faculty Senate formally adopted the "Basic Calendar Policy" of the new term system. All examinations were to be held in regularly scheduled class periods; there was no examination period as such.

June 1962: A final examination period of three days was added to each term. The spring term ended in mid-June.

December 1964: The Faculty Senate began discussion on problems of the class schedule.

October 1967: The Faculty Senate subcommittee met to discuss calendar problems under the term system.

March through July 1969: The Faculty Senate considered a semester calendar.

February 1970: The Faculty Senate discussed an extension of the Thanksgiving recess.

October 1972: President John W. Oswald, in suggesting changes in the calendar, noted for the Senate's information that the Board of Trustees, in its governance documents of June 1970, delegated the responsibility for setting the University calendar to the president. His proposed calendar shifted the academic year to begin around Labor Day. The issue was considered by the Committee on Academic Affairs of the Senate. The committee endorsed the basic principle of three terms occurring between Labor Day and the beginning of June; insisted on an examination period; acknowledged the "many demonstrable problems" of beginning the winter term before the winter recess but recognized that a three-term calendar required such action; did not support a spring recess; accepted orientation occurring within, rather than prior to, each term; and could not support a summer of two, five-week sessions. The calendar as proposed was approved by a voice vote. The new term calendar for the period of summer 1973 through summer 1976 was announced; arrival date in the fall was typically the Tuesday after Labor Day; the winter was split by the December recess; and spring term commencement was typically the last day or so in May.

March 1973: The President's Commission on the Academic Calendar was appointed jointly with the concurrence of the Faculty Senate and after consultation with the Council of Academic Deans. The commission first met in December 1973.

August 1974: A Capitol Campus calendar different from the rest of the University was approved; the Capitol Campus calendar ended the fall term in mid-December and began the winter term in early January.

October 1974: An experimental summer term calendar for 1975 was approved; a standard, six-week session was superimposed in the middle of the 10-week term.

May 1975: Oswald extended the existing term calendar through 1976-77 with a lengthened exam period, which had the effect of requiring that orientation and registration take place before Labor Day in 1976.

April 1976: Oswald announced modified term calendars for the period from fall 1976 through fall 1983.

April 1978: Provost Edward D. "Ted" Eddy appointed an ad hoc committee to consider a change from the term to the semester calendar.

September 1980: Oswald advised the University community that he was inclined to return Penn State to a semester calendar.

November 1980: A Senate Forensic Session was held on the early semester calendar proposal; 10 standing committees of the Senate reported on calendar change discussions.

March 1981: The changeover to the early semester calendar was announced. Details of the first five years' calendars were given and the Calendar Conversion Council was appointed. The council first met in April 1981.

September 1981: Class Schedule Principles were adopted by the Calendar Conversion Council.

September 1982: The Faculty Senate revised its baccalaureate program categories and definitions in preparation for the shift to the semester system.

November 1982: James B. Bartoo, chairman of the Calendar Conversion Council, reported to the Faculty Senate that most of the major policies and conversion matters were in place for the switch to the semester system.

February 1983: The Faculty Senate approved the academic classification of students by semester. The classification was based on total credits earned and was uniformly applied to all students.

September 1983: The calendar switch from terms to semesters is complete, as students return to campus for fall semester under President Bryce Jordan.

November 1983: A new summer session, beginning June 13 and ending Aug. 8, was announced. Courses varied in length from two to eight weeks.

October 1984: The Office of the Summer Session announced the initiation of a new "Intersession," starting May 13 and ending June 7, 1985. The four-week session was to provide an intensive study of courses primarily for continuing Penn State students.

September 1985: The University Faculty Senate endorsed a proposal to adopt a 14-week semester calendar. The recommendations, which are advisory, were to be studied by the administration to determine the implications and logistics involved.

September 1986: Jordan announces decision to reject a Faculty Senate proposal to change to a 14-week semester calendar and keep the semester at 15 weeks.

1987-1991: While several changes were made to the curriculum, no major adjustments were made to the academic calendar during these years.

March 1992: The spring break holiday is changed to begin after the eighth week of classes in the spring semester.

August 1996: A change in the academic calendar is announced, effective August 1997. Starting with the fall 1997 semester, the academic year was changed to begin a week later to give students more time to wrap up summer jobs, work/study programs and internships. The semester still included 15 weeks of classes, two study days and a six-day final examination period.

October 1999: Two class-free days are incorporated in fall semester, to be held on Monday and Tuesday in the eighth week of the fall semester. In addition, the start of Thanksgiving break was changed to begin at 2:15 p.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.