There are two types of Senate petitions that we see most often:

  • Retroactive withdrawal for a past semester (or semesters)
  • Retroactive late-drop of a course (or courses) from a current or past semester

How to submit a Faculty Senate Petition?

The first step is to email Martha Traverse ( with the following attachments:

  • Your letter of explanation (petition letter). Please limit to one page.
  • Documentation to support the excuse given such as:
    • Supporting letter(s) on appropriate letterhead or an email (sent to from a counsellor, academic advisor, instructor/other—preferably not family members or friends
    • Supporting letter on business letterhead for a medical excuse
    • Obituary or other documentation to support a death in the family excuse

Martha Traverse will review these materials and will either conduct the proceedings over email or invite you to an in-person interview, if needed.

Important tenets of a successful petition

  • Brevity: get right to the point; grammatical correctness
  • Supporting documentation (letters, emails, medical documents, other)
  •  A viable and reasonable case that is founded on extenuating circumstances outside of your control

Reasons that will sink any chance of approval of your petition

  • The course was too hard 
  • I was not mature enough to appreciate my education
  • I just stopped attending class
  • I don't need this class to graduate
  • An excuse for which you have no tangible written proof
  • A case that is solely about lost scholarship support with no extenuating circumstances present
  • Arbitrary "cherry-picking" for removal of poor work from years past

Acceptable reasons for retroactive requests

  • Death in the family
  • Personal or family crisis/situation
  • Emotional upheaval/breakdown
  • Financial worries/burdens
  • Illness or disability (either mental or physical)

Petition Letters

  • Include your local mailing address in petition letter
  • Include your PSU ID number in petition letter
  • Letter must be single-spaced with double spacing between paragraphs, using standard business letter form - see sample letters below.

NOTE: The sample letters demonstrate the correct length, plus the appropriate salutation and letter format. They are obviously NOT to be followed for content.

How to Submit

Please submit all materials to Martha Traverse:
Ryan Family Student Center
14 Deike Building
University Park, PA 16802

She will provide your academic transcript, plus the needed Penn State forms for withdrawal or add/drop, and will proxy your signature. (The $6.00 late add/drop fee will be deducted from your student account, if a late drop or late add petition is granted.)

DO NOT submit your petition materials directly to the Senate!

Submitting to Faculty Senate will greatly impede the process and might hurt your petition's chances of approval.

Other Petitions

Retroactive Registration (for an entire semester--often the result of failure to pay a semester bill) does NOT require a petition unless it has been more than nine months since the requested semester is over or you did not schedule any classes or you cancelled your registration. See the Registrar's website for details:

Retroactive Late Add (usually granted): The student must provide a formal petition letter and an email from the course instructor citing the grade earned. I will supply both the Grade Change form and Add-Drop form. Your letter will need to explain why you didn't register for course in the given semester.