Penn State To Recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth As University Holidays Beginning In 2023

Penn State will acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth as official university holidays starting in 2023, the university announced on May 6.

In recent years, Penn State recognized the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day with canceled academic and university-sponsored activities to encourage participation in service activities, observances, and festivities. However, the day was never officially observed as a holiday on the university’s academic calendar.

“Making these two significant days official university holidays is part of our continuing efforts to align Penn State’s policies with our values in diversity, equity and inclusion,” then-Penn State President Eric Barron said in a release. “Having these recognized as official university holidays will provide students, faculty and staff the opportunity to observe and honor these holidays in their own unique manner.” 

Juneteenth, which was enacted as a federal holiday in 2021, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States from the freeing of 250,000 African American slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. Pennsylvania officially made the annual event a state-mandated holiday on June 19, 2019, with Penn State now set to follow suit.

“These are important holidays for all of us to reflect on Black experiences in American history and celebrate the progress that has been made and those who have made that progress possible,” Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for Educational Equity, said.

The updated policy vows to permanently give Penn State students, faculty, and staff members the day off from classes and other work-related activities on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth. Moreover, the alteration will not impact other previously scheduled university holidays or breaks.



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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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