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Syracuse University adjusts Academic Calendar beginning in 2011-12

March 09, 2011

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

Syracuse University today announced adjustments to its Academic Calendar. Starting in the 2011-12 academic year, the calendar will include a new, weeklong “fall break” period, during which each day is deemed a non-instructional day and no classes will take place. This fall break will occur annually in November, during the week of Thanksgiving. 

This change in the Academic Calendar aligns with the expanding geographic diversity among SU’s student population, which has grown nationally and globally as students increasingly hail from a broader range of regions outside the northeast United States and around the world. More than one quarter of this year’s incoming class came to Syracuse from outside the northeast United States. 

The creation of fall break makes sense for students and families by providing a longer period of time to travel, as well as expanding travel options and flexibility during this week—one of the busiest and costliest travel weeks of the year. It also aligns with many other colleges and universities that have a break from classes at some point during the fall semester. 

During Monday through Wednesday of the new fall break, the University will remain operational and these days will continue to be considered working days for University employees. Thanksgiving Day and the following day will continue to be University holidays, and employees have the option to utilize their personal/vacation time if they wish to extend their break. 

There are many days of religious observance important to many faith traditions that fall throughout the academic year. The University’s Academic Calendar traditionally has suspended instruction on only three of those: Eid El-Fitr, Yom Kippur and Good Friday. SU’s strong religious observance policy ensures that all students may observe days of great importance to their faith traditions. Therefore, in a change intended to emphasize the diversity of faiths at SU, beginning in 2011-12, instruction will be re-introduced on the three days previously considered non-instructional days. This is also consistent with academic scheduling practice at many universities. 

SU’s religious observances policy recognizes the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty and staff to observe religious holy days according to their traditions. Under the policy, students are provided “an opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirements that may have been missed because of an absence due to a religious observance.” According to this policy, students are required to notify their faculty of any absence in the upcoming semester, no later than the second week of classes. More information about the policy can be found at: http://supolicies.syr.edu/emp_ben/religious_observance.htm

For nearly 20 years, the University’s Academic Calendar Committee has discussed issues surrounding these changes. A goal of the committee has been to encourage full instructional weeks whenever possible, and over this time the committee has recommended returning religious holy days to instructional days. 

SU Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina says, “This adjustment to the academic calendar makes sense for our students and their families by allowing for much greater flexibility during one of the most hectic travel seasons of the year. At the same time, the University has a very strong religious observance policy ensuring that those students who wish to be observant in their particular faith tradition continue to be free to do so.” 

The new 2011-12 Academic Calendar, along with calendars for subsequent years, can be found here.

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