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OBU to Begin Classes Aug. 10, End Semester Before Thanksgiving

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
OBU has revised the fall calendar for academic year 2020-21. Classes now begin Aug. 10 and the semester concludes Nov. 19, with Winter Commencement to be held Nov. 21. Pictured: The Oval on the OBU campus in Shawnee.

OBU has revised the fall calendar for academic year 2020-21. The Board of Trustees voted to move up the start of the fall semester, remove Labor Day and Fall Free Days, and conclude the fall semester before Thanksgiving. The move is part of the University’s COVID-19 response plan for the safe return to campus for students this fall.

The first day of class for the fall semester will be Monday, Aug. 10. Residence halls and apartments will open Aug. 5-6, with new student orientation Welcome Week activities running Aug. 7-9. Finals week will take place Nov. 16-19 and Winter Commencement will be held Saturday, Nov. 21.

The rationale behind the change is an attempt to reduce the threat of COVID-19 spread and infection from outside sources during the course of the semester. With Labor Day and Fall Free Days being removed, students and employees will be less likely to take trips, potentially contract the virus, and return to campus. Thanksgiving break is typically a nine-day span, where the campus completely closes down. That amount of time would allow for the greatest potential exposure to carriers. Thus, the goal was to not have students return once they dismiss for Thanksgiving until the start of the January term or spring semester.

To view the full academic year calendar, and to follow updates on the safe return to campus, visit

With its campus located in Shawnee, OBU offers 10 bachelor’s degrees with 88 fields of study and five master’s degree programs. The Christian liberal arts university has an overall enrollment of 1,868, with students from 35 states and 34 other countries. OBU has been rated as one of the top 10 regional colleges in the West by U.S. News and World Report for 28 consecutive years and Oklahoma’s highest rated regional college in the U.S. News rankings for 25 consecutive years. OBU is one of three universities in Oklahoma and the only private Oklahoma university listed on Great Value College’s rankings of 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Midwest. The Wall Street Journal ranks OBU second in the nation for student engagement among all U.S. colleges and universities. consistently ranks OBU as a top university in Oklahoma and the Princeton Review has named OBU one of the best colleges and universities in the western United States for 15 consecutive years.