Office of the Provost

PROVOST COMMUNICATIONS

Religious Holiday Schedule and Scheduling Final Exams

[Email to U-M faculty]
Aug. 29, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to draw your attention to the religious holiday schedule and to the University's long-standing final exam policy.

Religious Holiday Schedule:

Although the University of Michigan, as an institution, does not observe religious holidays, every reasonable effort should be made to help students avoid negative academic consequences when their religious obligations conflict with academic requirements.

For example, this year classes begin on September 4 and Rosh Hashanah will occur from September 9-11. If students must miss a class held during the first week of the term because of a religious conflict, they have been notified to contact their instructors in advance or risk being dropped from a class. If students miss a class or assignment later in the term, they are expected to give notice to their instructors by the drop/add deadline. Faculty are expected to provide reasonable accommodations, if possible, when religious observances cause a student to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments. The information that we provide to students regarding their obligations is copied at the end of this message for your information.

The list of some of the religious holidays that might pose conflicts for many of our students in 2018-2019 can be found at http://www.provost.umich.edu/calendar/religious_holidays18-19.html. Please be aware that this is not an exhaustive list and there may be other holidays that pose conflicts for students. When such conflicts do occur with regard to class attendance or the scheduling of examinations, it is my expectation that faculty will make alternative arrangements when students request them.

Such alternative arrangements should not unduly inconvenience other students or faculty. Faculty should make every effort to avoid scheduling required work that is difficult to reschedule, e.g., lab exams or high-profile non-classroom activities, on religious holidays. Some holidays extend over many days, and instructors should take special care to schedule work so that students who observe these holidays have opportunities to complete their work in a way that does not conflict with their religious observance. Faculty members whose classes conflict with their own religious obligations may reschedule these classes at times that are mutually convenient to themselves and their students.

If you have any questions or problems with this approach, please consult with your department chair, program director, or dean. Students will also be informed of this policy, in order to clarify for them their role in this process. Your efforts to resolve potential conflicts and to accommodate the students affected by them will be greatly appreciated.

Final Exam Policy:

The Final Exam Policy was developed to ensure that finals are spread over several days to help eliminate the scheduling of multiple exams per day for our students. By scheduling study days before and during the exam period, we also provide students with sufficient time to study for their finals.

Every term we receive complaints from students who were reluctant to express their concerns when a faculty member asked whether the students in a class objected to a final being moved. The lack of any objections does not necessarily mean that the students are in agreement with the change; they may simply be unwilling to incur peer pressure or the tacit disapproval of their instructor. I also am aware that students often purchase airline tickets home at the beginning of a term based on the final exam schedule only to have the date for the final changed and their travel plans disrupted.

For these reasons I am writing to ask that you please familiarize yourself with the University's final exam policy and arrange to have finals on the scheduled date. Faculty in Business, Dentistry, Law, Medicine and Social Work should check with their respective schools for academic calendar information, including registration dates.

The University's Final Examination Policy and Schedule may be accessed at http://www.umich.edu/~regoff/exams/. You may also view the Senate Assembly's statement on final exams at
http://facultysenate.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/03/04-16-07_Registrar-Finals.pdf.

Any questions or concerns should be directed to your department chair, the dean's office, or the Registrar's Office. You may also write to me at provost@umich.edu.

Sincerely,

Martin A. Philbert
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Toxicology

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Information for Students
Regarding Religious and Academic Conflicts

Although the University of Michigan, as an institution, does not observe religious holidays, it has long been the University's policy that every reasonable effort should be made to help students avoid negative academic consequences when their religious obligations conflict with academic requirements. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance shall be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities.

It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they will be absent. Such notice must be given by the drop/add deadline of the given term. Students who are absent on days of examinations or class assignments shall be offered an opportunity to make up the work, without penalty, unless it can be demonstrated that a make-up opportunity would interfere unreasonably with the delivery of the course. Should disagreement arise over any aspect of this policy, the parties involved should contact the department chair, the dean of the school, or the student ombudsperson. Final appeals will be resolved by the provost.