June 2012

Quarters to Semesters Update

June 2012

Countdown to Semesters!!
Semesters start on June 18, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

As you certainly know by now, Ohio State is just days from transitioning from quarters to semesters. On June 18, as we note above, the university will inaugurate its semester calendar, thus opening a new chapter in its history as it officially marks the end of 90 years on the quarter system. To take proper account of such a milestone, we asked President Gee and Provost Alutto to highlight this June issue of QSU by sharing their thoughts about the semester conversion.

When I returned to Ohio State in 2007, I expressed the belief that a momentous calendar change from quarters to semesters was on the near horizon. Soon after, I received a letter from an emeritus faculty member. He remembered that one of the committees he had served on — in the 1940s — was formed to discuss a possible change from quarters to semesters. He was amused that nearly 70 years later, we were still talking about a possible change.

As I noted to my correspondent, we do not just rush into things at the university! Time and change are — sometimes — slow.

But today, the great transition is at hand. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of faculty and staff, led by Vice Provost Randy Smith and Associate Executive Dean of Arts and Sciences Steve Fink, the conversion to semesters occurs in 2012 with so many positive outcomes. Throughout the transition process, there has been a common, shoulders-to-the-Herculean-task attitude that has served us very well. I am enormously grateful for those efforts, from which our students will benefit.

The Ohio State University joins with 16 other public institutions in the University System of Ohio in making the calendar conversion. We are grateful for the invaluable leadership of the Ohio Board of Regents. Change comes not without Sturm und Drang, but the metamorphosis was also an opportunity for faculty to rethink as they revised courses. The resulting calendar conformity is surely an achievement that all Ohioans can embrace.

E. Gordon Gee

Getting ready for the transition to semesters has required three years of intensive preparation. During that time, every aspect of university life has been touched by the move to semesters, but none so profoundly as our academic programming. The transition has fostered unprecedented innovation in our curricula, programs, and degrees. In anticipation of the switch, more than 12,000 courses and some 700 programs have been approved for the semester calendar. Fully half of these, I want to note, are brand-new or re-envisioned. What this means is that, rather than merely adapting quarter offerings for semester delivery, our faculty have embraced the semester shift — as President Gee notes in his message — as an opportunity to reinvent, revise, and create anew. In short, you have pushed the boundaries of Ohio State’s curriculum, redefining what we offer to ensure that programmatically, too, we are moving from excellence to eminence.

That is true elsewhere as well. Streamlined practices in such offices as Human Resources, the University Registrar, Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Life, and Business and Finance are the fruit of the move to semesters, as are substantial enhancements to our technology systems. These changes will be an ongoing benefit of the semester transition.

The extent of the university community’s participation in preparing for the semester shift has been simply stunning. Indeed, in my 21 years at Ohio State, I have never witnessed such great good will focused on a common cause. I join President Gee in applauding the work of Randy Smith and Steve Fink who have guided the planning and implementation of this massive shift. Thanks to their collegial, inclusive approach to imagining our future on semesters and their tireless efforts to be sure we got it right, Ohio State is poised to move seamlessly into a brand-new era.

Joseph A. Alutto
Executive Vice President and Provost

We appreciate President Gee’s and Provost Alutto’s kind words, of course, but any thanks are more due to the countless faculty, staff, and students who contributed untold hours to ensure that the semester switch will be successful. Like the president and provost, we are confident that the transition will go smoothly. Given the timing of the shift on June 18, we will not publish a July issue of QSU, but we expect to be back in August with a recap of Ohio State’s first six weeks on semesters.


 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, johnson.1043@osu.edu