Semester Review Task Force

Semester Review Task Force

CSU Seeks Semester Calendar

March 11, 2013

Dear Cal Poly Community:

Over the past several weeks, I have had several thoughtful conversations with Chancellor White and the other five CSU presidents whose campuses are now on quarters. In those conversations, I presented the Semester Review Task Force report and recommended that Cal Poly not convert to semesters at this time.

As you would expect, the presidents expressed a wide range of views about the positives and negatives of both quarters and semesters, with all of us recognizing that it has been the CSU’s strong desire for several years to have the entire system on a common calendar. Following discussion, there was a clear understanding by Chancellor White and all presidents that the benefits of a common calendar outweigh individual campus preferences.

The Chancellor is finishing his consultations with the various campuses, as well as with the statewide Academic Senate, and is moving toward a decision that the quarter-based campuses should convert to semesters in phases. In consideration of the different perspectives on this matter – including the Cal Poly Semester Review Task Force report and the supporting votes by the Academic Senate, ASI Board of Directors, and the students’ campuswide referendum – Cal Poly would not convert to semesters until the other campuses have gone forward. If all goes as expected, Cal Poly would begin the process of converting to semesters by the end of the decade.

At the CSU systemwide level, this phased approach will enable the CSU to defray 75 percent of each campus’s expected reasonable costs associated with converting to semesters.

This gradual phasing in will give Cal Poly plenty of lead time to identify and capture what is best about quarters and retain those elements in the new calendar. Also, without the urgency of an immediate conversion to semesters, Cal Poly can proceed full pace on our key strategic imperatives of increasing graduation rates, improving the campus climate for diversity, and successfully launching a comprehensive capital campaign.

I know that feelings about quarters vs. semesters on our campus run strong. However, given the direction we have received, this is a reasonable approach. I understand and support the Chancellor's direction and look forward to joining you in demonstrating that Cal Poly will continue to excel under semesters just as it has under quarters. I will keep you informed as this process develops.

Thank you for all you do in making Cal Poly a great university.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong


Semester Review Task Force Open Forums

January 4, 2013

As part of the process of exploring whether Cal Poly should convert to semesters, the Semester Review Task Force submitted its recommendations to me in December. Next in this process, the Academic Senate and the ASI Board of Directors will review the report at their respective meetings in January. In addition, I will host two open forums for the campus community:

  • Open Forum (Staff focused): 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, the Pavilion of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center [Please note: This is a new date.]
  • General Campus Open Forum (All): 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Pavilion of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center

I will keep the campus informed as the process continues, and plan to submit my recommendations to CSU Chancellor Timothy White by the end of winter quarter.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong


Taskforce Report Message

December 11, 2012

Dear Campus Community:

In September, I appointed a campuswide task force to investigate whether Cal Poly should consider a conversion to a semester calendar from its current quarter system. The Semester Review Task Force has diligently completed its assignment, and you can read the full set of recommendations by clicking on the link at right.

As you will see, the task force recommended against converting to semesters at this time. At the same time, the group expressed enthusiasm for a focus on curricular and administrative improvements to enrich students' educational experience and recommended developing a process for doing so.

I appointed the task force because, among other reasons, I believed that Cal Poly students and our Learn by Doing approach would benefit from a systematic review and updating of our curriculum and thought that the process required to convert to semesters could jump-start that process. In addition, the California State University (CSU) system earlier this year asked the remaining six of its 23 campuses still on quarters to explore moving to semesters.

The task force members investigated this issue in a thorough, open-minded way. I am grateful to them for the depth of their thinking and their expeditious completion of the assignment. They worked very hard, and I cannot thank them enough.

As to the next steps in this process: In the spirit of shared governance, I have asked the Academic Senate and the ASI Board of Directors to review the report at their respective meetings in early January. I plan to attend and participate in their discussions.

Additionally, I have scheduled open forums for the campus as noted below, and I hope that you are able to join me:

  • Open Forum (Staff focused): Thursday, January 24 at 2 p.m., the Pavilion of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center
  • General Campus Open Forum (all): Wednesday, January 30 at 2 p.m., the Pavilion of the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center

The depth of the task force's report and these discussions early next quarter will help me with my ongoing involvement in the CSU's systemwide deliberations on semester conversion. I expect to submit my recommendation to the chancellor by the end of winter quarter, and I will be sure to keep you informed of developments as they occur. The final decision rests with the CSU.

Rest assured that any changes to the calendar or curriculum would be done with one objective: to strengthen Learn by Doing, which has been an indispensable factor in our students' success since our founding more than a century ago.

Please know that I will be sure to keep you informed of further developments on this issue as they occur.

Finally, thank you all for your commitment to Cal Poly.


Jeffrey D. Armstrong

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