Click for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Forecast



Speaking Out

Academic Mission vs. Fall Break | Concerned About Impending War

Academic Mission vs. Fall Break


I read with some amusement Professor Korshin's plaintive protest that the one day Fall Break was "virtually meaningless" because it was on a Friday, "a day when there are almost no classes at Penn anyway." To the extent that he is correct on the facts, it seems that most students and faculty have "Fall Break" every weekend from Friday through Sunday--more than a dozen in the semester. Perhaps the University should schedule a full complement of classes on Friday so the one day Fall Break would be meaningful.

My amusement, however, was dampened by a troublesome reminder that the University is purporting to carry out a serious academic mission on a four day academic week. I assume that many faculty and most students are little concerned so long as there is a salary check for the faculty member at the end of each month and a diploma for the student at the end of four years.

The one thing that the University can offer that a correspondence school can not is the contact and interaction between faculty members and students
--a version of Mark Hopkins at one end of the log and a student on the other end. But there seems to be a desire on the part of too many faculty members and too many students, abetted by the administration, to minimize that educational process. Should not Professor Korshin and all of us be more concerned about this dilution of the educational mission?

I have never been persuaded of the need or educational validity of Fall Break for students or faculty, that they needed a "brief respite between Labor Day and Thanksgiving." Most of the rest of the world works five or six days a week, 50 weeks a year. College graduates, particularly in the professions, commonly work even more hours, often with less vacation. Are students too young to begin learning to bear the burdens of adulthood?

--Clyde W. Summers, Professor of Law


Concerned About Impending War

Calling all faculty and staff who are concerned about the impending war with Iraq and the Bush administration's announced positions on the U.S. role in world affairs.

Please join a meeting on Wednesday, November 6, at 4:30 p.m. in the Penniman Library of Bennett Hall, 34th & Walnut Sts. to help us generate various options for Penn faculty and staff on how best to respond to these concerns.

--Larry Gross, Annenberg School

--Walter Licht, History

--Richard Shell, Wharton School

--Rogers Smith, Political Science

--Jeremy Brochin, Hillel

--Beverly Dale, Christian Association

--David Grossman, Civic House

--Sue Harte, Newman Center

--Heather Kilmer, Civic House


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 11, November 5, 2002