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Task Force on the Academic Calendar and System set to begin research

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 20, 2007) -- The Ohio University task force charged with researching and recommending whether to stay on the quarter system or switch to semesters will hold its second meeting Wednesday, Feb. 21. The group -- which first met with President Roderick McDavis Feb.  8 to go over its charge -- has laid out guiding principles for its goal of researching, gathering input from all constituent groups and making a recommendation by the end of spring quarter.

Task force roster

The Task Force on the Academic Calendar and System comprises the five-member Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the four Faculty Senate committee chairs, two Athens campus deans, one regional campus dean, the chair of the Chairs and Directors group, the presidents of Student Senate and Graduate Student Senate, and the chairs of the Administrative and Classified senates. The members are:

Morgan Allen
Tim Anderson
Dominic Barbato
Phyllis Bernt
Dan Evans
Annette Graham
Sherrie Gradin
Gail Houlette
David Ingram
Chauncey Jackson
Tracy Leinbaugh
Sergio Lopez
Joe McLaughlin
Wendy Merb-Brown
Norma Pecora
Greg Shepherd
David Thomas
Mary Tucker
Chuck McWeeny
Valerie Young
"The driving principle will be a careful look at what's best for the institution," said Phyllis Bernt, chair of the 20-member Task Force on the Academic Calendar and System.

She explained that the committee, in its deliberations, will strive to make recommendations that will support the university's competitive position, not increase students' time to graduate, not increase faculty workload, allow academic departments the flexibility they need to accomplish their goals and help the university recruit and retain quality faculty and students.

The issue is "very complex," Bernt said, because the group is looking at the calendar (when classes begin and end as well as the timing of breaks) as well as the system (semesters versus quarters).

"We have to look at a lot of different aspects of where we are as an institution and where we want to be before we can make any decisions," said Dominic Barbato, chair of Graduate Student Senate.

To gather information, the group will conduct surveys, examine the experiences at other institutions who have considered this issue and delve into the literature on the subject.  However, Bernt explained, she knows of no definitive studies demonstrating that one system is more beneficial than another pedagogically.

"It's not going to be an easy decision where it's possible to look at the data and say 'ah, this one's better for one thing and obviously we should do it,'" she said about the literature review.

The task force also will consider the previous reports compiled by presidentially appointed committees on this same topic in 1992-93 and 1996-97, both of which recommended staying on quarters. An earlier  committee filed a report in 1978; that report recommended going to semesters.

Ohio University, Ohio State University, Wright State University and the University of Cincinnati are the only four-year state-assisted universities still on quarters. Nationally, approximately 80 percent of all institutions are on semesters, Bernt said. Institutions that have been converting to semesters cite providing students with the opportunity for more in-depth learning and reducing administrative costs; institutions also mention better coordination with other institutions that are on semesters.

The university moved to the quarter system in fall 1967 after the state Board of Regents required it to do so. The board wanted a common calendar system among state public higher education institutions. Its primary goals for the uniform system included potentially increasing state financial support and facilitating student movement between institutions.

Campus community members with questions can contact Phyllis Bernt at bernt@ohio.edu. Stay tuned to Outlook for updates on the task force's progress.

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Media Contact: Acting Senior Director of Media Relations Sally Linder, 740-597-1793 or linders@ohio.edu

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