Penn State Intercom......November 7, 2002

Calendar creates
efficient fall
semester slate

By Tysen Kendig
Public Information

Mark your calendar Here are some key dates in thUniversity officials have finalized the academic year calendar for the next six years, including changes to the fall semester that will result in a more compact and efficient teaching and learning term for faculty and students alike beginning in 2003.

The new calendar reflects adaptations recommended by the University Faculty Senate -- with consultation from the Undergraduate Student Government and members of the community -- which were approved by President Graham B. Spanier earlier this year.

"While the fact is that no calendar format in an academic community as large and diverse as Penn State's will make everyone happy, we feel confident that this new schedule will best accommodate the needs of faculty, staff and students as a whole," said James Wager, University registrar. "Faculty need a calendar that is adaptable to their own approaches to teaching and learning, while students require a high-quality educational experience that accommodates summer work schedules, internships and mid-semester study breaks. All of these needs have been considered in this new calendar."

The new academic year will consist of 145 class days and 10 assessment/examination days -- very close to the Big Ten average and nearly a week longer than the calendars for the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and the State System of Higher Education. There will be no alteration to the current schedule and length of daily class times.

While the new calendar does not impact the current schedule for spring and summer semesters, students will see a noticeable change in the fall semester format. The new fall term will span 16 weeks, including 14 weeks of classes and one five-day week of finals and assessment activities. In addition, class start dates in the fall will be later; through the rest of the decade, classes will begin no earlier than Aug. 30 and as late as Sept. 5.

Five days without classes also are built into the schedule: Labor Day; the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week; and the Friday at the end of the sixth week, creating a three-day study break at the midpoint of the fall calendar. In some years, this study day may be scheduled a week earlier or later if there is a home football game at the end of the sixth week.

"This schedule represents a compromise that preserves the integrity of the academic schedule," said Wager. "Students and faculty will still enjoy a brief mid-semester break and have an extended Thanksgiving vacation, without a substantial sacrifice of instructional days."

One challenge wrought by a later class start date involves a potential conflict between move-in weekend and home football games in some years at the University Park campus -- including 2003. To accommodate the extreme traffic and lodging challenges associated with each of these events, move-in day will be moved to a Thursday in 2003.

A complete breakdown of the new academic calendar through summer 2008 can be found online at

Tysen Kendig can be reached at