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March 2012

Quarters to Semesters Update 

March 2012

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

Dear Colleagues,

The transition to semesters affects every student, every employee, and every office of the university on every campus. In this issue of QSU, Bill MacDonald, executive dean of the regional campuses and dean and director of Ohio State Newark, provides us with an update on how our smaller campuses at Lima, Mansfield, Marion, and Newark are preparing for the shift.

Getting Ready for Semesters: The Regional Campus Cluster.
By William L. MacDonald, Executive Dean, Regional Campuses, and Dean and Director, The Ohio State University at Newark

The four smaller campuses that make up Ohio State’s Regional Campus Cluster have been steadily preparing for the semester calendar. Each campus’s associate dean (Michael Cunningham, Lima; David Tovey, Mansfield; Bishun Pandey, Marion; and Paul Sanders, Newark) has been the point person for this work, assembling the 2012-13 course schedule, troubleshooting, and serving on the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee. Over the past year, the associate deans and, in some cases, campus committees have dealt with issues related to space availability, time conflicts, need for instructors, enrollment fluctuation, time-management adjustments for students and instructors, and alignment with the calendars of the technical colleges that share the university’s smaller campuses.

Last fall, the regional campuses began drafting schedules and testing them against a variety of assumptions. At least one campus had to shift from having a daily common hour (an hour during which no classes meet) to having a common hour on only one day of the week. In another case, a campus that had previously not had a common hour was able to establish one. Each campus is now assembling its final 2012-13 schedule, including summer term, 2012.

In the January QSU, Dolan Evanovich, vice president of strategic enrollment planning, highlighted the work of the University Registrar to ready Ohio State for semesters. This month we have asked him to tell us about the semester transition efforts of other units within his office.

Getting Ready for Semesters: The Office of Strategic Enrollment Planning.
By M. Dolan Evanovich, Vice President, Office of Strategic Enrollment Planning

  • First Year Experience has scheduled this summer’s two-day orientation programs for new first-year students. Sessions will run from June 13 through August 3 (and will begin earlier in June 2013). Looking ahead, issues to be resolved include (1) reconciling the late release of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate scores with an earlier orientation schedule, and (2) managing spaces for course registration and foreign language placement testing.
  • In Graduate and Professional Admissions, our chief concern is keeping applicants and program staff aware of changes to deadlines and the timing of when holds are placed for applicants admitted provisionally.
  • Similarly, Student Financial Aid is concerned primarily with effective communication and helping students to adjust to managing budgets in a two-semester (rather than three-quarter) environment.
  • The Office of The University Bursar is not part of Enrollment Services, but we share a building and work closely together. The Bursar is collaborating with the University Registrar and the Office of the CIO to develop a plan that fulfills accounting needs, while providing the best possible information and service to students who are eligible to receive May Session credit.
  • The Student Service Center is focusing on understanding the impact of the conversion on financial aid matters, registration, tuition and fee payments, and the online Student Center to be able to provide the best customer service to students, families, and the university community.

Semesters Handbook for Academic Advisors now on line. The conversion to semesters will result in changes to practices, procedures, and policies, from course numbers and meeting patterns to the disbursement of financial aid to students. The Semesters Handbook for Academic Advisors includes information about many of these changes.

Tuition payment options. When Ohio State converts to semesters, students will continue to have the option of paying their tuition in installments under the Tuition Option Payment Plan (TOPP). To help with the transition, the university has increased the number of TOPP installment payments to four per semester for the 2012-2013 academic year and is waiving the enrollment fee for both autumn and spring semesters.

Students can also use a credit card to pay their tuition.

To learn how to enroll in TOPP, or to obtain details about other payment options, including paying by credit card, go to:

Both the TOPP and credit card tuition payment options may help in managing the larger, earlier billings of the semester system. These options may be especially helpful during the 2012-13 academic year, when the shorter summer of 2012 will limit students’ opportunities to earn money for the coming year.

Graduate Teaching Associate orientation. Each year, the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT) hosts 400 to 500 Graduate Teaching Associates at an event designed specifically for Ohio State’s brand-new GTAs. With the move to semesters, the annual Teaching Orientation @ Ohio State will be held approximately a month earlier than in the past. This year, the orientation will take place on August 14, 15, and 16.

Departments are urged to take note of these dates when planning their GTA training activities and to keep in mind that requests for orientation invitee rosters will come earlier than usual this year.

In making summer plans, graduate students should also mark these dates in anticipation of any training in which they might participate.

In closing, we would like to remind everyone that the look and feel of an academic year under semesters will differ from the familiar annual cycle of quarters. The semester system that starts in June will initiate a new pattern of important events, dates, and deadlines. A calendar featuring many such dates during Ohio State’s first year of semesters may be found here.


 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,