August 2023 Heritage Celebrations

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of August:

Cultural and Federal Holidays:

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (August 9th): The United Nations sets aside every August 9th to commemorate the world’s Indigenous Peoples and to raise awareness about the need to recognize their identities, ways of life, territories, and natural resources, all of which have been violated throughout history. This year’s theme is “Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination.” Indigenous youth are actively exercising their right to self-determination by being change agents in key areas like climate action and the green transition, mobilizing for justice, and intergenerational connections. To learn about the advocacy of Native and Indigenous young people at UConn, visit the Native American Cultural Programs website.

National Senior Citizens Day (August 21st):  Created by Presidential Proclamation in 1988, National Senior Citizens Day honors and shows appreciation to the elders in our communities.  It also raises awareness of the need to continue supporting our elders as they face new struggles from ageing; senior citizens often face increased health issues and may be economically vulnerable.  The best ways to celebrate this day are to visit the elders in your family and community or to volunteer at senior care centers, meal delivery services, and other senior-based programs.  The University of Connecticut supports senior citizens through free educational initiatives, including Senior Citizen Audits for learners over 62, UConn Extension’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR) for retirees and other adults from all walks of life, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLII) where learners over 50 can expand their minds and connect with other learners.

Purple Heart Day (August 7th): This day honors American soldiers who were wounded or killed while serving their country on or after April 5, 1917.  The veteran community is important to UConn. The Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs (VAMP) provides student support services specifically for veterans, active service members, and their families attending UConn. Their services include certifying VA educational benefits, assisting students in their transition to life at UConn, and providing supplemental programs and activities to student veterans. VAMP works closely with the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), which has a wealth of resources for veterans regardless of ability status. VAMP also works closely with state-based Veterans Centers that provide fully confidential mental and behavioral health assistance.

Women’s Equality Day (August 26th): Women’s Equality Day commemorates the certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, guaranteeing that every American can vote, regardless of gender.  Made into a national holiday in 1971, this day celebrates activists’ achievements in promoting equity and equality for women.  It also serves as a reminder of the need to continually advocate for gender-based equity and equality, as well as the need to dedicate resources to promoting and empowering women, including by combatting sexual- and gender-based violence.  At UConn, these imperatives are carried out by the Women’s Center, the Rainbow Center, the Title IX office, the UConn Foundation, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, the Center for Career Development, and the UConn Health Women’s Center resources for expecting, pregnant, and parenting students, among other unit- and department-level resources.

Religious Holidays:

Muharram (July 19th – August 17th): Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, second only to Ramadan in importance and holiness.  Many Muslims celebrate the first day of Muharram as the Islamic New Year (July 19th) marking the start of the lunar year. Muslims celebrate the new year by visiting the mosque, praying for well-being, and spending time with loved ones. They also traditionally cook something sweet to share when breaking their fast. Muharram also includes Ashura (July 27th – 28th), which mourns the martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad. Traditions and celebrations vary across locations and between Shia and Sunni peoples – Sunnis consider this a day of respect but do not take part in mourning traditions.

Feast of the Assumption / Dormition of the Mother of God (August 15th): August 15th is widely celebrated among Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox Christians as the day Jesus’s mother, Mary, ascended to heaven in both body and soul. This is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Celebrations might include festivals, processions, and planting a Mary Garden.

We welcome the celebration of each of these holidays on our campuses and encourage support for those requiring accommodations. You can find information and guidance about academic accommodations for religious observations on the Provost Office’s webpage.

To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the semester, please visit our events page at  ODI writes these letters in collaboration with our partners across the UConn system. If we inadvertently omitted a cultural or religious holiday, please let us know by emailing us at



Frank, Anne, and Jeff

Frank Tuitt
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer

Anne D’Alleva
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Jeffrey F. Hines, MD
Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, UConn Health