UW-Madison Chancellor issues apology for scheduling start of fall semester during Rosh Hashanah

A photo of Bascom Hall at UW Madison
Bascom Hall

MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank issued an apology after UW-Madison and five other UW System schools announced plans to start the 2021 school year on a holy Jewish holiday will remain in place.

UW-Madison’s first day of class is scheduled for Sept. 8, which this year coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year.

In a statement shared Tuesday afternoon, Chancellor Blank said she is “deeply sorry” that the conflict wasn’t noticed when planning the school year’s schedule.

“Our ability to correct this oversight with the most ideal solution – changing the class start date – is not possible, due to the constraints we face on start/end dates as well as the many links between the calendar and other administrative actions that were already taken,” Blank said.  “I very much regret this and I have worked to ensure we are taking every action we can to reduce the impact of the conflict.”

To make up for the conflict, Blank said students won’t be penalized for missing class on Sept. 8. In addition, Convocation for first-year students has been moved to Sept. 3, instead of the original date of Sept. 7. All departmental welcome events, which are typically scheduled for the Tuesday before class starts, will also be avoided from Sept. 6-8 due to the holiday.

Blank said the university is taking steps to ensure similar scheduling conflicts with major religious observances don’t happen again in the future.