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Quarter-to-Semester Updates - November 2010

Quarters to Semesters Update 

November 2010

Dear Colleagues,

Ohio State is not alone in moving to semesters. By autumn of 2012, all of Ohio’s public institutions of higher education—universities, two- and 4-year colleges, and technical schools—will be on a semester calendar. To give representatives from these institutions an opportunity to explore calendar conversion issues, solutions, and best practices, Ohio State hosted a statewide semester summit on October 25. 

Statewide semester summit. The more than 300 summit participants were greeted by Ohio Board of Regents’ Chancellor Eric Fingerhut, who hailed Ohio’s uncommon number of higher education opportunities as our state’s most important asset for an economically secure future. With so many choices, however, some students find it challenging to identify the pathway to the programs that they need. The Chancellor said that having all Ohio institutions on the semester system will make it easier for students to move among those institutions, find the right academic fit, and prepare themselves to become part of an educated workforce.

Two veterans of calendar conversion, Peter Zetterberg and Andrew Jorgensen, then shared their insights with the audience. Dr. Zetterberg directed the semester conversion at the University of Minnesota; Dr. Jorgensen did so at the University of Toledo.

While acknowledging that a semester calendar is less flexible than its quarter-based counterpart, Dr. Zetterberg said that the University of Minnesota is prospering on the semester system. Enrollment is at an all-time high, the four-year graduation rate has doubled, and faculty and staff productivity is at the same high level as before the calendar conversion. Citing Minnesota’s lessons learned, he stressed the importance of clearly defining the roles of those engaged in the conversion process, the likelihood of vagaries in classroom utilization once on the semester system, and the need to stay in touch with the surrounding community, since the new calendar will affect such local experiences as traffic flow, merchant sales, and apartment rentals.

Dr. Jorgensen expanded these practical tips, emphasizing the importance of regular communications about the semester shift. Dissipating student anxiety should be a primary and continuing effort throughout the conversion, he said. Dr. Jorgensen also noted that the conversion offers faculty an unparalleled opportunity to reshape the curriculum. Administratively, Toledo’s move to semesters benefitted, he said, from having a central office in charge of the process, and he urged other schools to consider that model. He explained that as a result of the calendar conversion, Toledo has experienced an improvement in transfer and articulation, and scheduling has been rationalized. He added that students were generally satisfied with the school’s handling of the shift to semesters and cited as evidence that an appeals process was established—with every appeal resolvable at the local level.

Multiple break-out sessions during the balance of the day-long meeting took up a number of specific calendar conversion issues, such as curriculum development, course redesign, faculty load, student services, and communications strategies. Materials from the summit are available at

Participants were pleased by the ample opportunities the summit provided for discussing common challenges, along with the solutions that are emerging as all our institutions transition from the quarter to the semester system. In this issue of QSU, we will focus on some of those challenges as we are experiencing them at Ohio State.

Student Records and the Conversion of Cumulative Data. As we move to the semester calendar, the university will need to convert students’ cumulative academic data (i.e., cumulative grade points, cumulative hours, and earned hours) from “quarter” numbers to “semester” numbers. The goal is for no student’s grade point average to be changed by these conversions. Testing for this proposal is currently under way.

Here is how the conversions will work. A student's "cumulative hours" (the graded hours on which the quarter-based grade point average is based) will be recalculated in semester hours by multiplying the student's quarter-based cumulative hours by 2/3 (.66667 is the current planning number). The newly calculated cumulative hours will be multiplied by that student's cumulative grade point average (as already established under quarters) to yield his or her "cumulative points." Once a student begins taking semester-based course work, grade points and hours will be added as semester data to the converted cumulative points and cumulative hours, and the grade point average will be recalculated accordingly.

Advising Communications. As semester-based curricula are finalized, advisers will have access to the information they need to provide guidance about course selection, majors, and other academic issues. The following is a list of the deadlines for submitting semester program and course revisions for CAA’s review.

College or Division Expected Submission to the Office of Academic Affairs
Engineering Spring 2010
Dentistry Summer 2010
Arts and Sciences-I Autumn 2010
Education and Human Ecology
Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences
Public Health
Veterinary Medicine
Arts and Sciences-II Winter 2011
Social Work
Law Not applicable

This timetable means that, by autumn 2011, all advisers should have transition plans ready to discuss with students. Additional funds have been allocated to adviser training to ensure that they are fully prepared to do so.

The cardinal rule for students—and we stress this in every possible forum—is that they be proactive in contacting their advisers.

Other communications. We had the opportunity to discuss the conversion process in a one-hour session on October 16 during Parent and Family Weekend. There was a very good dialogue on issues ranging from advising, to curricular change, to financial impacts.

We will further hone our outreach to students later this year with separate, targeted messages dealing with the calendar conversion. Students and representatives from the Offices of Student Life, University Communications, Undergraduate Studies, and Academic Affairs are now considering the most effective ways to disseminate information about coursework requirements, advising reminders, deadlines, and other semester-related topics of special interest to students. We will also continue to send students the QSU newsletter.

UCAT Institutes and other support. The University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT) is a front line resource in preparing for the move to a semester calendar. The center regularly sponsors programs to assist faculty with the transition to semesters.

For information about course design institutes, please visit UCAT also offers one-on-one support for the calendar conversion. Please email or call 292-3644 for information about tailored departmental workshops and other assistance with the calendar conversion.

The 2012-13 semester calendar. As this issue of QSU and all its predecessor issues will attest, Ohio State is taking the careful steps that will assure a seamless transition to semesters. Here is the calendar for 2012-13. Please remember that semesters begin in summer, 2012.

SUMMER 2012: Semesters Begin


Classes begin

June 18 (M)

Independence Day - no classes, offices closed

July 4 (W)

Last day of regularly scheduled classes

Aug 3 (F)

Final examinations

Aug 6-8 (M-W)

Summer commencement

Aug 12 (Sun)





Classes begin

Aug 22 (W)

Labor Day - no classes, offices closed

Sept 3 (M)

Veterans' Day observed - no classes, offices closed

Nov 12 (M)

Thanksgiving - no classes, offices closed

Nov 21-23 (W-F)

Last day of regularly scheduled classes

Dec 4 (T)

Final examinations

Dec 6-12 (R-W)

Autumn commencement

Dec 16 (Sun)





Classes begin

Jan 7 (M)

Martin Luther King Day - no classes, offices closed

Jan 21 (M)

Spring Break

Mar 11-15 (M-F)

Last day of regularly scheduled classes

Apr 22 (M)

Final examinations

Apr 24-30 (W-T)

Spring commencement

May 5 (Sun)





May Session begins

May 6 (M)

Memorial Day - no classes, offices closed

May 27 (M)

May Session ends

May 31 (F)



Summer Session begins

June 10 (M)

Independence Day - no classes, offices closed

July 4 (R)

Last day of regularly scheduled classes

July 26 (F)

Final examinations

July 29-31 (M-W)

Summer commencement

Aug 4 (Sun)

As you will see from this calendar, the inaugural May Session is set to start on May 6, 2013, and will conclude on May 31. We know that many of you have questions about best uses for this short session. The December issue of QSU will focus on just that topic.


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

 Steven S. Fink
Associate Professor of English and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

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

The Ohio State University