Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

Calendar Information and Key Points

The academic calendar and course schedule working group has gathered substantial input from our community (including faculty, staff, and students), learned about federal guidelines for financial aid, and debated how to maximize safety for our community while keeping well-being (broadly considered) at the fore. A revised Fall 2020 academic calendar for undergraduates is now available, and the graduate calendars are forthcoming. Here are the highlights for your planning purposes.

  • August 7-12, residence hall move-in dates for new students are August 7-8, with commuter student check-in for FOCUS on August 9, and for returning students are August 9-12.
  • August 9-12, FOCUS orientation
  • August 10-12, new students will begin a Stetson signature class: First Year Seminars, or FSEMs
  • Thursday, August 13, classes begin, a full week earlier than originally scheduled
  • Tuesday, November 24, classes, including final exams, conclude by the end of the day
  • Wednesday, November 25, residence halls close at noon for winter break

Some key points about the calendar meriting further attention are explained below.

  • Starting date: Faculty and students may have plans that make an earlier start to the academic year untenable. In such situations, deans will work with faculty individually, and faculty will work with students individually, to find appropriate solutions.
  • Labor Day: Stetson has long valued recognition of the labor force that built America and continues to make our country and our institution strong. In this challenging time, the committee feels that the risk of travel away from and back to campus for an extended Labor Day weekend is too great, and therefore has opted to hold classes on that day. To provide for situations where faculty may have child or elder care responsibilities on that day, we offer the potential for flexible delivery modes for those Monday classes, and at the same time encourage faculty to hold normal classes as much as possible in order to disincentivize student travel. Should select staff have to work on that day, the university will offer an alternative day off post Thanksgiving to exempt staff and overtime pay for non-exempt staff (aligned with existing Stetson policies).
  • Values Day: the university’s commitment to values, and by extension values day, has not wavered. The way in which the university celebrates and educates around our core values will require a different form of recognition for fall 2020. The revised academic calendar does not contain a day dedicated to values day where classes are cancelled (note that, as a committee, this was one of the most challenging decisions to make). The values day committee will work to integrate values day programming throughout the term. Reflecting and acting on our values is important at all times and especially during this time in our nation and world.
  • Fall Break: Along with Labor Day, the calendar working group supports holding classes on those days originally set aside for Fall Break in order to minimize the risk associated with travel and to end the semester before Thanksgiving.
  • Leaving campus before Thanksgiving: To reach the goals of ending the semester before Thanksgiving and having students depart campus before that day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is designated for residence halls to close at noon and students to depart. Students do not have to move their belongings out of the residence halls for Winter Break. We recognize the challenges of this tight time frame for students to leave campus and appreciate students’ accommodating this schedule.
  • Hurricane make-up days: The calendar working group and most survey respondents strongly favor completing the academic term prior to Thanksgiving. If we require make-up days due to hurricanes or other disruptions, the week following Thanksgiving is reserved for regular classes and/or final exams that will be delivered remotely.
  • Commencement: December graduation, currently scheduled for December 11-12, will require review, given both the academic calendar changes and the expectations for continued limitations on gatherings of large groups.
  • Title IV funding: The revised 15-week fall 2020 calendar retains the same number of class days as a typical semester, which allows us to comply with the federal requirement for a 30-week academic year in order to qualify for Title IV funding. Title IV funds include Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan, Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), and Federal Perkins Loan.
  • Spring semester: The academic calendar for spring 2021 may also change, or Stetson may provide students with optional educational offerings between terms. The working groups will continue to discuss how we can best meet learning goals and provide a desirable or preferred student college experience during the 7-week winter break.
  • Internships: Internships, especially those for teacher education and music education students, will require special attention regarding alignment with both Stetson’s academic calendar and either employers’ or local county school systems’ schedules. Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced a roadmap for Florida K-12 schools to reopen in the fall.
  • Residence Hall Move-InMove-in dates for most incoming students are August 7-8 and continuing students are August 9-12. Incoming students participating in the Decision Day Benefits plan will have priority to arrange for a move-in time on Friday, August 7. There will be a small late check-in window for incoming students commuter students on the morning of August 9. All check-ins will be curb-side and by appointment time only. More detailed housing information will be going out to residential students this week.
  • FOCUS orientation: FOCUS orientation for new Hatters will be August 9-12. Parent and Family College will be online. Your FOCUS orientation leader will be in touch with you soon with more information.

Community input: A grand “thank you” to the staff, faculty, and SGA members who participated in the surveys that informed this calendar. Of course, no one calendar can accommodate the diverse opinions represented in the responses, but the calendar working group members seriously considered all responses and comments. The adjusted calendar shown above strongly resembles the preferred calendar presented in the survey, and it reflects several particular points that informed our decision making. Quantitative results, as well as comments, were similar across students, faculty, and staff survey respondents. In brief, some of the pertinent survey results are as follows:

  • 81% of the respondents were amenable to starting a week early (52% “liked” and 29% stated “no preference”).
  • 96% of the respondents were amenable to ending the semester by Thanksgiving (87% “liked” and 9% stated “no preference”).
  • 76% of the faculty and 89% of the staff respondents preferred starting FSEM classes on Monday.

In early August, when we are back on campus—in residence halls, libraries, classrooms, and the Palm Court—both I and President-elect Chris Roellke look forward to thanking our faculty and staff in person for their incredible efforts to educate and support students through a challenging spring semester and in preparing for a powerful fall return. We are also eager to commend our students for the resilience they have shown and continue to demonstrate: Students, that resilience will serve you for a lifetime.


Noel Painter, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Provost, Professor of Music

Stetson University