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March 7, 2002


To the editor:

It is bizarre for a national holiday, Presidents' Day, celebrated [this year] by the rest of the country on Feb. 18, to be deferred at Pitt until three weeks later, March 8. This cockamamie decision by the University's calendar tinkerers makes us the laughing stock of the region, creating, as well, consternation in the graves of Washington and Lincoln by our calendar meddlers who will not let George and Honest Abe rest in peace.

I understand that the reason for this convoluted ukase is to avoid the loss of two Mondays (Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21, and Presidents' Day, Feb. 18) for classes that meet on Mondays. Give me a break. I'm sure that instructors who were smart enough to earn their Ph.D. degrees are capable of figuring out how to make up for the loss of these two Monday classes. Even if not, surely there is enough slack in syllabi to accommodate the absence of two measly class sessions. Rest assured that "the Rockies won't crumble and Gibraltar won't tumble" (from "Love Is Here to Stay," by the Gershwins) if two Monday classes are "sacrificed." The "problem" is easily soluble by brainy instructors, even those instructors not credentialed in rocket science.

A little research uncovered many reasons for celebrating March 8 — and Presidents' Day was not among them. March 8 is "Employee Appreciation Day," "International (Working) Women's Day," "Middle Name Pride Day," "Uppity Women Day" and "U.S. Income Tax Anniversary (March 8, 1913); and the birthdays of Hannah Hoes VanBuren (March 8, 1783), wife of Martin VanBuren, the eighth U.S. President; Cyd Charisse (born Tula Finklea on March 8, 1923), and Lynn Redgrave, born on March 8, 1943. Rest assured, March 8 is not Presidents' Day — never has been, never will be.

Let's hope that the University's calendar wizards will get it right next year: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20, 2003, and Presidents' Day, Monday, Feb. 17, 2003. No more fiddling around, please.

Robert Perloff

Emeritus Professor

Katz Graduate School of Business

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