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15 January 2015




Deans, Directors, Faculty and Instructional Academic Staff

Steven K. Smith, Secretary of the Faculty
Sarah Mangelsdorf, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Lori Berquam, Dean of Students

When Classwork and Religious Observances Conflict


We would like to remind you of the faculty policy that mandatory academic requirements should not be scheduled on days when religious observances may cause substantial numbers of students to be absent from the university. Please visit for a listing, though not exhaustive, of religious holidays. Please refer to the calendar below for additional information, and mark the noted holidays on your calendar now so that you do not schedule mandatory exercises on any of these dates.

Given our multicultural community, some individual conflicts cannot be avoided. A student's claim of a religious conflict, which may include travel time, should be accepted at face value. A great variety of valid claims exist for religious groups, and there is no practical, dignified, and legal means to assess the validity of individual claims. State law mandates that any student with a conflict between an academic requirement and any religious observance must be given an alternative for meeting the academic requirement. The law also stipulates that students be given a mechanism by which they can conveniently and confidentially notify an instructor of the conflict.

Please use the following three guidelines to provide clarity for both students and instructors:

(1) Announce early in the semester that your students must notify you within the first two weeks of class of the specific days or dates on which they request relief. Including this information on your course syllabus is another appropriate method to make sure your students are informed of the policy.

(2) Make-ups may be scheduled before or after the regularly scheduled requirements.

(3) It is understood that instructors may set reasonable limits on the total number of days claimed by any one student. Occasionally, students may not fully understand the necessity for prior notice, and under these circumstances we urge you to be as flexible as possible. Our policy seeks to be sensitive to the needs of individual students.

Please advise your teaching assistants of this policy.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Sarah Mangelsdorf, Office of the Provost, 608-262-1304,
Steven K. Smith, Office of the Secretary of the Faculty, 608-265-4562,
Lori Berquam, Division of Student Life, 608-263-5700,



Last day to cancel enrollment without transcript record 19 January (M)
Instruction begins   20 January (T)
Last day to drop courses or withdraw without notation on transcript 28 January (W)
Last day to add courses or enroll without department/dean permission 30 January (F)
Last day for 100% tuition adjustment on dropped classes 30 January (F)
Last day for 50% tuition adjustment on dropped classes 13 February (F)
Last day to appliy for pass/fail or convert from credit to audit (undergrad) 13 February (F)
Purim* 5 March (R)***
Last day to appliy for pass/fail or convert from credit to audit (grad) 20 March (F)
Spring recess begins 28 March (S)
Classes resume 6 April (M)
Passover* 4-11 April (4-11)**
Last day to withdraw without academic penalty (undergrad, prof., special) 17 April (F)
Last day to withdraw without academic penalty (grad) 8 May (F)
Last class day 8 May (F)
Study day 9 May (S)
Exam (Summary period) 10-16 May (N-S)
Commencement ceremony (doctoral, MFA) 15 May (F)****
Commencement ceremony (undergraduate, master's) 16 May (F)****
Last day grades due 22 May (F)
Faculty contract year ends 24 May (N)

* In accordance with regent and faculty policy, faculty are asked not to schedule mandatory exercises on days when religious observances may cause substantial numbers of students to be absent from the university.
** Observances of Jewish holidays begin at sunset on the day preceding that which is listed as the holiday.
*** Islamic holidays are based on the lunar cycle and dates may vary by one day from those listed.
**** The official date of degree conferral on the diploma will be 17 May 2015.


Academic Calendar
Faculty Document 488a - Religious Observances Policy

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Office of the Secretary of the Faculty, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1380
(608) 262-3956

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