From staff reports
Now that the Ohio University Board of Trustees has officially endorsed a conversion to semesters, members of a transition team are pressing forward on related issues, from changes to the academic calendar and revamping courses to budgeting for conversion costs.
The Board of Trustees approved the change Friday, with the first courses to be offered in a semester format in 2012-13. State officials have urged all public universities to follow the same academic system, and currently only Ohio University, Wright State University, Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati are on quarters.
Ben Ogles, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said directors and faculty members in his college have told him they are eager to proceed and look forward to updating their curriculum.
"Everyone involved recognizes this will be a lot of work,'' Ogles said. "But in the end, we're hopeful it will result in a great educational system that also fits in better with the rest of the universities in the state."
Members of a newly formed Quarters to Semester Transition Team are meeting weekly to address issues. Their goal is to present a final report for Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl's approval during winter quarter.
Among issues on the team's agenda:
Team members' discussions center on how the semesters should be structured.
Co-chair Tom Carpenter presented information during the team's weekly meeting Wednesday concerning the semester calendars of 15 universities -- nine of which are Ohio University's aspirational peer institutions. The majority have two 15-week semesters. Two have divided their semesters into two eight-week blocks.
Co-chair David Descutner said he prefers a 15-week semester over two eight-week blocks. "It is the simplest approach," he said.
Deciding on a semester structure needs to happen sooner rather than later because faculty need to get started on converting their courses, Carpenter said. "Our departments and colleges need to have an idea of what a 15-week semester looks like," he said.
The transition team has decided to recommend academic departments and their faculty be given more time than originally proposed to review their curriculum and suggest changes. That will push back the deadline for course conversions from fall 2009-10 to spring 2009-10. The extra time is needed, some team members said, because faculty may have existing summer commitments that would make it difficult to meet the initial deadline.
The transition team has discussed the number of hours students will need to graduate, but has not yet tackled specifics.
Students now need 192 hours, which converts to 128 semester hours. However, Associate Provost for Budget and Academic Planning John Day has suggested a minimum of 120 hours to ensure students can graduate in four years based on a traditional load of 15 credit hours per semester.
But regional campus faculty representative and team member Pam Sealover has noted that setting the minimum too low could create a conflict between degree and general education requirements.
Another issue: Three- and five-hour classes are more difficult to convert to semesters. Team members said those questions would need to be handled by individual departments.
Preliminary cost estimate
A preliminary cost estimate for the conversion may be ready for review by the transition team next week.
Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl told the Board of Trustees last week that the current estimate stands at about $2 million. Interim Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives Ann Fidler said the deans have discussed the figure and are awaiting information from Krendl's office on how much each college will have to work with for curriculum conversion and student advising.
Within the overall estimate, a rough breakdown of specific expenses has been developed but is still very preliminary, Fidler said. It calls for half of the sum to go for student advising, with the deans and their chairs and directors determining how best to approach advising within each college.
Of the estimated $1 million remaining, about half would go for the implementation of software that students will use to track their progress toward degree completion; about $276,000 to staff a conversion office to oversee the transition; about $200,000 to compensate college designees whose role in the curriculum conversion goes beyond standing job responsibilities; and about $24,000 to compensate faculty members on the University Curriculum Council who will work next summer to ready the UCC process for course conversion.
Minutes of the Quarters to Semesters Transition Team meetings can be found on the Web at www.ohio.edu/provost/q2s.cfm.