APRIL 2, 2001

CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2138, pwright@csub.edu


CSUB studying conversion to semester system


California State University, Bakersfield is studying the feasibility of converting from the quarter system to the semester system.

CSUB President Tomas Arciniega said the purpose of the study is to examine all the issues concerning a conversion before making a decision.

The CSU Chancellor's Office has been exploring the possibility of converting the six quarter-system campuses to semesters as part of Chancellor Charles B. Reed's commitment to making all CSU campuses more accessible.

Three primary reasons have been cited for conversion:

Cost savings - Two 15-week semesters instead of three 10-week quarters would cost less from an administrative standpoint since campuses would have two registration periods instead of three.

Improved access - Converting to a semester system would align all CSU campuses with community colleges and high schools, thus providing better access. Since all community colleges and high schools in the state are on the semester system, converting all CSU campuses to a semester system would mean a smoother transition for students to a CSU.

Improved efficiency - Having all 23 campuses of the nation's largest university system on a common calendar would achieve greater systemwide efficiency.

The six CSU campuses on the quarter system are Bakersfield, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona, Los Angeles, Hayward and San Bernardino.

Arciniega said that Reed, "with the full support of the Board of Trustees, has been exploring how best to move forward with conversion." He said that the presidents of the affected campuses had raised several issues, principally about costs associated with such a move. "A major concern has been securing the additional funding necessary to support the conversion," Arciniega said.

Arciniega has asked Provost Robert Catlin to chair the study, and "undertake a systematic consideration of the issue." He also has asked the deans of CSUB's four schools to discuss it among their faculty "to secure their advice" before consulting with the Academic Senate about its recommendation. The president said he wants to complete the study by mid-May.

He cited factors that he believes makes conversion a viable option for CSUB.

"From a systemwide perspective, efficiency of operation and student access are the overriding considerations," he said. "From our perspective, since conversion appears inevitable, and the system has secured funds to assist with the process, CSUB should move this year to begin conversion. If we wait, funding to support conversion will probably be less generous.

"Also, a semester has a number of advantages for faculty. These range from more generous funding of sabbaticals to one-third fewer administrative operations connected to a term's start and close.

"On workload, the most controversial issue, many if not most faculty would find themselves better off and certainly no worse off than under the quarter system.

"I believe conversion by all quarter campuses is inevitable and want us to take advantage of the special inducements now available," Arciniega said.

James George, vice president for undergraduate studies, is involved with the study. "The president has invited CSUB faculty to consider it (conversion)," George said. "He believes it's inevitable, and that we won't get the financial support for conversion later that we'll get this year. Being on a semester system increases accessibility.

"What the president has asked for is a university-based scrutiny of the issues, followed by consultation with the Academic Senate. Faculty input is crucial," George said.

Ken Swisher, a spokesman for the CSU Chancellor's Office, said converting to semesters makes sense. "The CSU is in the midst of a 10-year period in which enrollment will grow by about 130,000," he said. "In the past six years CSU enrollment has grown by about 50,000 to 370,000 systemwide. We want to do everything we can to increase efficiency and ensure access to all qualified students. Having all our campuses on a semester system is an important step in accomplishing that."



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