By Casey Elliot
The Quarters to Semesters Transition Team has completed its work and created a report recommending the structure of a semester calendar, identifying guidelines for advising students affected by the transition and establishing an approach for accomplishing the transition that will involve coordinators from departments and schools.
University standing committees such as the University Curriculum Council and the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee have worked on transition issues as well and will continue to play key roles in the move to semesters.
The report will be submitted to college deans this week for input on the length of winter break and approval. The report then will be forwarded to Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl and President Roderick J. McDavis for final approval.
The team, comprised of members representing all university groups, has met weekly since September to map out a blueprint for the transition.
"This has been an effective group that has dealt responsibly with complex issues of the semester conversion," said team Co-Chair Tom Carpenter, Classics and World Religions chair.
State officials have urged all public universities to adopt the same academic system. The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved the move to semesters in October, with the change to take place in 2012. In addition to Ohio University, three other universities in the state are converting to semesters – Ohio State University, Wright State University and the University of Cincinnati. Representatives from all four universities are staying in contact to discuss each institution’'s conversion, and they are working with two-year institutions that plan to convert in 2012.
Team members tried to be as inclusive as possible in their discussions and to take into account both the perspectives of the many campus groups that will be affected by the conversion and the experiences of other institutions that have adopted semester systems.
"I think the Q2S team was a great showing of shared governance and what can be accomplished when great minds come together to build a better Ohio University," said Michael Adeyanju, Student Senate president. "We may not have always agreed but we still continued to move forward on making this transition work and that is what is reflected in the report."
David Thomas, vice chair for Faculty Senate, chair of the University Curriculum Council and team member agreed: "The Q2S group did its best to utilize best practices from other institutions as well as clarify our own unique culture and circumstances at OU."
David Descutner, team Co-Chair, observed: "Students and faculty surely will be affected by the move to semesters, but so will our classified colleagues, our administrative colleagues, and the citizens of Athens and the surrounding area, which is why it was wise to have such broad-based membership on the team."
The seven-page report focuses on ensuring students can complete their degrees in four years, that the conversion is cost neutral, transparent and consultative, and that departments and schools will have sufficient time to convert their curricula.
The team proposed two 15-week semesters with a week for finals and recommended two six-week summer sessions. The team could not reach consensus on the length of the winter break, and the members’' final report asked the deans to decide that matter based on what is best for the university.
The report acknowledges that individual colleges do academic advising differently and requires each college to develop a plan describing how it will conduct advising and communicate with its students. Colleges' advising plans will ensure that all students have the opportunity for an individual meeting with an advisor and will receive a document outlining the courses necessary to take to complete their degrees under the semester system.
A proposed budget for conversion estimates the cost at $2.3 million, with the largest portion of the funds allocated for advising. The budget also includes some funding for encoding the new Student Information System, for operations of the Conversion Office, and for the University Curriculum Council.