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March 2011

Quarters to Semesters Update 

March 2011

Dear Colleagues,

Like any new initiative, the semester conversion has its own unique vocabulary. Many of you have asked us to clarify the nomenclature that is being used to describe the periods of the year under semesters. We would like to start this issue of QSU with explanations of the most frequently used terminology.

Defining the semester calendar. The regular academic year will run from mid-August until the beginning of May and will consist of Autumn Semester and Spring Semester.

Each semester can be divided into two seven-week sessions, in which courses can be offered over a shorter span.

Summer Term will consist of a four-week May Session, followed by a one-week break and a seven-week Summer Session. Courses in the Summer Term can be offered for the May Session only, the Summer Session only, or the entire Summer Term (including instruction during the week between May Session and Summer Session).

Details of reading and exam days and intra-semester breaks are now being finalized.

Checklist for semesters. With the shift to semesters now just over a year away, you may want to consider starting a checklist of the changes you will need to make as we transition to the semester calendar. Developing a timetable for those changes will help ensure that your transition is as seamless as possible.

As faculty members develop their semester-based syllabi, they will want to be sure that these and all other class documents use the semester terminology noted above.

Administrators and staff members may need to inspect forms, websites, and publications, both print and electronic, for references to quarters and be prepared to make changes, as necessary, in timely fashion.

Everyone needs to be aware that summer, 2012—our first semester term—will be shorter than the summers we are accustomed to on the quarter system. As you will see from the table below, summer commencement, 2012, will take place on August 12. By contrast, summer commencement, 2011, is set for August 28. Although summer 2011 and 2012 classes start on roughly the same date, 2012 classes will conclude some two weeks earlier than on the quarter calendar.

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)

It will be important to review deadlines throughout the 2012-13 academic year—and especially so during this first summer semester with its reduced number of class days.

UCAT course design. As part of your checklist for semesters, you may be thinking about redesigning your courses for the semester calendar. To help you with this process, the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT) is offering a Course Design Institute during spring break. This five-part institute will meet from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. every day from Monday, March 21, through Friday, March 25. It will provide you with the tools and the collegial support to design or redesign your courses for the coming semester calendar.

UCAT will also hold an institute during spring quarter on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. from April 6 through May 4.

Space is limited, so visit to register for either section of the Course Design Institute.

Research and the semester conversion. Another entry on your semesters check list may be contacting Ohio State’s Office of Responsible Research Practices. Does your research involve evaluating curriculum, implementing new curriculum, surveys, testing, or accessing identifiable data on students? Are you planning to disseminate results in academic journals or at professional conferences? If so, federal regulations may require Institutional Review Board (IRB) or exempt review and approval before any research activities begin. For more information, please refer to the policy on Research Involving Human Subjects or consult Cheri Pettey in the Office of Responsible Research Practices for additional guidance.

Helping students plan for semesters. Because semester conversion affects the entire student experience, a Student Life team, headed by Assistant Vice Presidents Louise Douce and Fred Fotis, has been working for more than a year to identify, plan for, and resolve a wide range of non-academic issues, including contracts, programming and social events, facilities, information technology, and communication with students. To date, contracts for housing and dining have been revised for the new calendar; major campus event programming has been adjusted to move activities traditionally held in late spring to other dates and to fill the newly open dates in September; air conditioning is being added to the South Campus high rise residence halls in stages, and other facilities issues are being addressed; website updates are under way, and other information technology adaptations are in progress. Meetings have been held with local rental property owners to update them on the new calendar and to assist in revising leases to match the semester calendar. In addition, Student Life staff members are collecting data, both formally via surveys and focus groups and anecdotally, on students’ understanding of semester conversion and the concerns that still need to be addressed.

Our aim with the QSU newsletter is to keep the members of the university community as aware as possible of what the university is doing and what they need to do to prepare for the shift to semesters. If you have questions about broad semester-based issues, please let us hear from you. We will try to tackle such issues in upcoming numbers of QSU.


 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,