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Senate approves semester switch

In a historic vote Thursday, the Ohio State University Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution to adopt a semester system to take effect no earlier than Autumn 2012.

With a 91-19 vote margin, the senate, which includes, students, faculty and administrators, resolved that the Council of Enrollment and Student Progress create a precise 2012 academic calendar to be reviewed and approved by the senate.

The calendar will include no fewer than 65 instruction days and, with the exception of professional colleges or academic disciplines whose accreditation standards require a longer term, no more than 70 days of instruction in each semester.

University Senate Secretary Christian Zacher, left, Josh Gillespie, center, and Elizabeth Goedde count the votes from yesterday's semester switch hearing.  The senate voted  91-19 in favor of the switch. Photo by Andy Gottesman.ANDY GOTTESMAN/THE LANTERNUniversity Senate Secretary Christian Zacher, left, Josh Gillespie, center, and Elizabeth Goedde count the votes from yesterday’s semester switch hearing. The senate voted 91-19 in favor of the switch.
“We’re going to miss the quarter system,” said Peter Koltak, president of Undergraduate Student Government. “We have to look at the vote as an opportunity to move in a different direction.”

This is the third time in the last two decades that OSU administrators have considered the switch from quarters to semesters.

“We have had a deliberation process that is very healthy,” said President E. Gordon Gee. “I think that it was overwhelmingly approved.”

Richard Gunther, a professor of political science and faculty council chair, opposed the conversion to a semester calendar when it was proposed in 1991 and 2001.

“This is not the time-wasting monster I fought against in 1991 and 2001,” Gunther said.

“We need to think very hard about turning our backs on the governor and the chancellor.”

The Ohio Strategic Plan for Higher Education, initiated by the Ohio General Assembly, asks Ohio universities on the quarter system to consider a common academic calendar across all universities in the state.

Nine of 13 higher education institutions in Ohio are on the semester system. Three of the four institutions still on the quarter system – Ohio University, Wright State University and the University of Cincinnati – have declared plans to convert to a semester calendar.

If the vote failed Thursday, OSU would have been the only university in Ohio not to approve the switch.

In one final effort to rally for the quarter system, one senate member said that staying on the quarter system would add to OSU’s reputation as the state’s flagship university.

“With the quarter system, OSU has the ability to continue to innovate with its flexibility,” said Richard Hart, professor and chair of biomedical engineering. “The chancellor asked us to seriously consider it but he did not require it.”

Students in attendance at the senate meeting voiced displeasure that the senators voted via secret ballot.

“It removes accountability,” one student said. “I want to know how my USG senator voted.” Gee said the senate acted accordingly with the use of secret ballots.

“I think that it was called for,” Gee said.

The proposal will now move to the Board of Trustees for approval in April.


Amber Phelps can be reached at phelps.84@osu.edu.

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