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December 2011

Quarters to Semesters Update 

December 2011

Countdown to Semesters!!
6 months and counting
Semesters start on June 18, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

As this autumn quarter winds down, we are reminded—and want to remind you—that, come January, we will enter the final academic period that Ohio State will define as a winter term. In fact, this time next year, we will be looking ahead to spring semester, which starts on January 7, 2013. As we move toward the semester calendar, we will encounter a number of other “lasts,” including our last winter Commencement and our last quarter-based classes, tuition payments, and break schedules.

By now, everyone at Ohio State is fully aware of the magnitude of the calendar shift that is bringing us all these last-time moments—but also a number of “firsts”: the start of fall semester classes in August, the opportunity to teach and learn over a 14-week timeframe, the first May session in 2013, and more. Because technology supports virtually every aspect of our conversion, we have asked CIO Kathleen Starkoff to provide us with an overview of how the Office of the Chief Information Officer is helping prepare Ohio State for semesters.

Getting Ready for Semesters: The Office of the CIO.
By Kathleen K. Starkoff, Chief Information Officer

Today, almost every faculty, staff, and student interaction with Ohio State involves technology. The dedicated staff of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is responsible for much of that technology in areas as diverse as student financial aid, the wireless network, and classroom technology.

We take that responsibility with supreme seriousness and are especially aware of our role in the university’s smooth transition to the semester calendar. In fact, we have been working for more than two years to prepare for the shift. This means tracking 14 system implementation milestones, four of which are now complete. Semester-based tools already in use include the Transitional Academic Plan, a course conversion guide, and the website for the submission and approval of programs and courses. In addition, by April, 2012, students’ quarter-based data will be translatable into semester-based data.

These are examples of how the OCIO supports the semester efforts of offices campus wide, such as Human Resources, the University Registrar, Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Life, and Business and Finance. In making the necessary updates, however, we are not merely adapting university systems for semesters. Instead, we have taken advantage of this one-time opportunity to enhance our systems to provide lasting value. Their increased functionality will be an ongoing benefit of the semester transition.

The calendar conversion touches every business and educational process at the university, from enrollment windows to tuition and fee deadlines to pay schedules and fee authorizations and more. A seamless move to semesters will depend on the work of countless faculty, staff, students, and administrators — and on the technology that supports their efforts.


Semesters and faculty appointments. The move to semesters has prompted questions by faculty and support staff about how pay schedules, leave policies, and other aspects of faculty appointments will operate under semesters. A thoughtful and thorough list of questions and answers about these issues has been posted on the semester conversion website.

Summer 2012. Although much attention has been given to autumn 2012 in regard to semester conversion, the semester calendar actually begins in June 2012. The Office of Academic Affairs has contacted all the colleges and regional campuses to learn of their plans for course offerings during summer 2012. All have indicated that their pattern of offerings — the kinds of courses — will be similar to previous summers. They soon will be working with the Office of the University Registrar to provide details.

Update on the May session. We know that students and faculty alike are increasingly interested in the May session, so we wanted to provide some reminders about this coming feature of the semester calendar.


May Session begins

May 6 (M)

Memorial Day - no classes, offices closed

May 27 (M)

May Session ends

May 31 (F)

As the table above illustrates, Ohio State’s inaugural four-week May session will start on May 6, 2013, and will conclude on May 31, 2013. Here are some other important details about the May session.

  • The May session is considered the first part of the summer term, not the concluding part of the spring semester.
  • Students enrolled full time in spring semester may take up to three credits during the May session with no tuition costs. Fees, however, will continue to be charged. Tuition for enrollment beyond three credits will also be charged.
  • Credit hours earned in the May session will be added to credit hours earned in the summer session to determine the amount of a student’s federal financial aid.

We are excited about the special opportunities offered by this concentrated session. For example, it provides an opportunity for departments to tailor coursework to new components of the semester-based General Education curriculum, especially service learning, cross-disciplinary seminars, and education abroad. The Office of International Affairs is ready to assist academic units in developing study abroad programs for the May session, including discipline-specific and early access programs, research abroad, international service learning, internships, and field work. Interested faculty are encouraged to visit

Watch future issues of QSU for additional information about the May session.

Semester summit and looking ahead. The third Semester Summit, held November 9 at the University of Cincinnati, drew more than 200 participants from 17 of Ohio’s public colleges and universities. In addition to sharing information and best practices about transitioning to semesters, attendees also heard from representatives of Otterbein and Ohio Northern Universities, which have already moved to semesters. The representatives noted that their greatest challenges were classroom space and student planning for the transition. Ohio State has done extensive work in anticipation of these challenges. The Office of the University Registrar has met with most departments to plan for autumn, 2012, space needs; and advisors have been working with students to complete their Transitional Academic Plan (TAP). The Course Conversion Guide is also available to help support advising during the transition.

With the third and final Semester Summit now history, we can report that of the nearly 13,000 courses offered at Ohio State, only about 1,000 are not yet fully approved in semester format. We are completing the approvals for our semester-based programs, the semester course change form has just gone live, and the summer and fall semester course catalogues are being prepared.

You should know that we are also studying how to deal most effectively and rapidly with the inevitable surprises inherent in any sweeping change like our semester shift. As each issue of QSU demonstrates, colleagues across the university are doing their utmost to ensure that the shift will be as seamless as possible.


 W. Randy Smith
Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

 Steven S. Fink
Associate Executive Dean,
Curriculum and Instruction,
College of Arts and Sciences, and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

Questions or comments about the transition to the semester calendar?
Contact Assistant Provost Jay Johnson,