The University of Rochester will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by canceling classes on Martin Luther King Day beginning in 2008 while continuing its tradition of sponsoring special programs to remember the civil rights leader.

"We have a tradition of celebrating the work and sacrifice of Dr. King," said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "Canceling classes in all six of the University's schools on the designated holiday focuses our attention on his legacy of tolerance, peace, and equality," said Seligman.

In the past, each school planned its programs and some had canceled classes for part of the day. The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address has ranked as one of the University's major events tied to the King holiday. This year, the address will be delivered by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., one of King's close associates at the time of his assassination in 1968. Jackson will speak at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, in Strong Auditorium on the River Campus. The program is free and open to the public.

Federal legislation that created the holiday to mark the birth of King emphasized the value of making it a national day of service. "We wish to give all of our students an opportunity to take part in celebrations, community service, and other projects that reflect on Dr. King's life and teachings," said Seligman.