Mustang Daily Staff Report
New California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White said he is in favor of converting all CSU campuses to the semester system at a student press conference on Wednesday, though no set plan has been made to do so as of yet.
“I will be working with the Academic Senate and with the faculty (at the six CSU schools on the quarter system) to move those campuses from the quarter to the semester,” he said at the conference.
White, who began his term in office at the beginning of this year, said he has had experience with both quarters and semesters, and has come to prefer the latter because it is “a better learning environment for students.”
“When I was at Berkeley as a student, and then as a faculty member, we were semesters and went to quarters,” he said. “And then we went back to semesters because it was a better learning environment. … For me, it is about being student-centered and making sure we are offering our curriculum in a way that is optimal for students.”
CSU spokesperson Erik Fallis said though White prefers semesters, and believes they would be right for the system, there is no official plan in place to bring all 23 campuses to semesters. White will discuss the issue with campus presidents during the coming months and work with faculty and students to make a decision, Fallis said.
The reasons White listed for converting all quarters campuses to semesters ranged from better alignment with community colleges to an improved workflow based on one standard schedule. White also said the system’s goal of implementing more technological improvements could be helped by converting these campuses.
“(Conversion) will make all of the Cal State on the same calendar, which will allow, especially with technology, that ability to use courses from San Luis picked up by somebody in San Diego,” he said. “It just makes sense to me.”
Six CSU campuses currently remain on the quarter systems (Cal Poly, Bakersfield, East Bay, Los Angeles, Pomona and San Bernardino). Of these, Cal Poly, Bakersfield and Los Angeles have all seriously looked into converting to semesters. No definite time span for the proposed conversion has been suggested, but White said he thinks the conversion will be relatively simple.
“It would be a bigger task if it was only one semester school and we had 22 to convert,” White said.
It is unclear how this information will affect the Cal Poly student advisory vote on semesters held yesterday and today by Associated Students, Inc. (ASI).
University President Jeffrey Armstrong said he agrees with the chancellor’s listed benefits of semesters over quarters.
“I agree with Chancellor White about semesters, although I should note that I have not yet had a substantive conversation with him about any Cal Poly issues,” Armstrong wrote in an email statement to Mustang Daily. “But as I’ve said many times since we began our review process, I personally believe semesters are better for students.
“But let’s not get ahead of our own process. I promised our campus that we would investigate this issue thoroughly. We’re in the midst of that process now, and it’s proving to be a very good process.”
ASI President Katie Morrow said she didn’t think the chancellor’s comments would change the importance of the student advisory vote at Cal Poly.
Morrow said ASI would continue its plan to bring students’ views to university administrators even if they are pro-quarter.
“I hope that (the decision) is being made in consideration for the uniqueness of the campuses,” Morrow said. “That would be my biggest concern.”
The ASI student advisory vote on semesters results were not available as of press time, but Morrow said yesterday’s student semester vote turnout is within “a couple percentage points” of breaking the previous student government record of 36.5 percent. Students set that record during the 2011 ASI officer elections.
Sean McMinn and Kaytlyn Leslie contributed to this staff report.