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January 2011

Quarters to Semesters Update 

January 2011

Dear Colleagues,

Hard to believe, but this month marks the halfway point in our journey toward the semester calendar. Just 17 months ago the University Senate approved the semester calendar. In another 17 months we will inaugurate the first term under that new calendar.

Highlights of the last 17 months: Putting support systems in place

  • To coordinate the conversion process, we created a three-tiered structure consisting of:
    • A coordinating committee;
    • Subcommittees focused on advising, space, technology, communications, core business processes, curriculum, and graduate education; and
    • Designated representatives in each academic unit.
  • A website was developed to keep the university community informed about the conversion.
  • The daily calendar was developed, as was a course numbering system for semester-based courses.
  • Electronic templates were developed for the submission of the semester-based courses and programs for all units. A number of workshops were held to help users understand how to use the templates.
  • The Graduate Handbook was revised to accommodate the changes necessitated by the calendar conversion.
  • A pledge to students was created to assure students that their progress to degree would not be hampered if they follow the guidelines set forth in the pledge.
  • The first semester-based programs have now reached the Council on Academic Affairs, with the Colleges of Engineering, FAES, and Education and Human Ecology leading the way.
  • In October, a Semester Summit was hosted by Ohio State, providing opportunities for 300 participants statewide to discuss common challenges and solutions as our institutions transition from the quarter to the semester.

What to expect in the next 17 months: Implementing changes

  • Semester-based proposals for all Ohio State programs and courses will be submitted by the end of this month.
  • A series of student-oriented communications will be inaugurated this winter.
  • Approvals of all programs and courses will be finalized by spring, 2011.
  • By autumn 2011, advisers should have a Transitional Academic Plan for discussions with students.
  • The role of May session will continue to be elaborated.

Transitional Academic Plan. As noted above, advisers can expect a transitional plan later this year to help their advisees move readily into semesters. The Transitional Academic Plan, currently in development, will provide advisors and students with a planning tool to help map the courses needed to fulfill each student’s remaining curricular requirements. Many students will require complex plans spanning multiple units and involving multiple advisors. Providing a university-wide means for advisors to record a term-by-term advising plan for each student will help support advising during--and beyond--the transition to semesters.

Classroom use. As units submit their conversion plans, those units should closely consider the semester scheduling patterns to ensure that classroom space is available. The weekly schedule outlines the time blocks and scheduling patterns for courses. The schedule is designed to provide maximum flexibility and, at the same time, use centrally managed classroom spaces as efficiently as possible. Studies of our course volume and existing classroom space have shown that, while we have more than adequate space for semesters, space must be used efficiently if scheduling under semesters is to be successful. The Registrar’s Office is working with academic departments to project their Autumn Semester 2012 schedule and determine space needs. If you have questions about the weekly schedule or need assistance with course planning, please contact Associate Registrar Jack Miner.

Student communications. A working group consisting of staff from Academic Affairs and Student Life, along with several student leaders, has been meeting periodically to create a plan for communicating to students about the semester conversion process. Beginning this quarter, a series of messages will be rolled out in various forms, including email, posters, social networking sites, and student news media.

A unifying concept of “Countdown to Semesters” with the logo below will be used to identify the messages. The first messages will concentrate on building awareness of the new calendar and the semester conversion website and will stress the need for students to consult with their academic advisers.

As you can see, much has been and is being accomplished, and plans are in place for taking the steps that will lead us successfully to the semester system in 17 months’ time. At this halfway point toward semesters, let us extend our sincerest thanks to all those who are contributing so diligently and effectively to the conversion process.


 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,