Tiana Reber | Mustang News

Cal Poly extended its deadline to switch to semesters amid a change to Cal State’s General Education (GE) system, Academic Affairs announced Wednesday.

Cal poly’s semester system will now start fall 2026 after originally being scheduled to start fall 2025.

Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, the university’s provost and the Academic Affairs executive vice president, said that a CSU executive order implementing a new single GE pattern is expected to come Summer 2024. The CSU’s GE pattern provides a series of courses that community college students can use to fulfill requirements at any CSU campus upon transferring.

“Because that timeline would not give us time to develop our local GE template and convert our GE curriculum for a fall 2025 semester, we were granted an extension,” Jackson-Elmoore said in the email.

The email referenced AB-928, or The Student Transfer Reform Act of 2021. This bill outlines the transfer process for California community college students to four-year universities. A main reason for Cal Poly’s change to semesters was to lift the barriers of transfers going from semester schools to Cal Poly’s quarter system.

California State University | Courtesy

“The campus has already made tremendous strides on this,” Jackson-Elmoore said in a February Academic Senate meeting. “There is energy and potential to be realized, and it is important that we not lose the momentum that has already been gained, as we have done all along since the announcement this past fall.”

The email comes a few weeks after Chancellor Joseph Castro, an advocate for the semester system, resigned. Currently, Cal Poly is the only remaining CSU campus on the quarter system.

The new timeline for semester conversion will be created by Provost Jackson-Elmoore and philosophy professor Rachel Fernflores, a former Academic Senate chair. Academic Affairs will share more specifics of when the conversion will occur in the coming weeks, according to their email.

Cal Poly forced to plan for semester conversion

Mustang News first reported Cal Poly’s eventual transition to the semester system in October 2021, prior to the university’s official announcement to the campus community.

At an Oct. 5 Academic Senate meeting, faculty raised concerns over the conversion. They cited Cal Poly’s commitment to rigor and the consequence of faculty having to rework their curricula. 

California Faculty Association (CFA) San Luis Obispo President Lewis Call said the semester debate has persisted throughout his entire 25 years at Cal Poly.

“I’m sorry to hear that it might now actually be happening,” Call said at the meeting. “I have talked to a number of faculty at other CSU campuses who have gone through this transition, and one thing that’s very concerning is that usually the university does not provide the necessary resources to make that shift.”

In 2013, the Pomona, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, San Bernardino and East Bay CSU campuses switched to semesters after a systemwide push from former CSU Chancellor Timothy White. Though Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong fought against that change, in 2021, Chancellor Castro made it clear he expected the campus to finally abandon the quarter system.

A semester schedule consists of two, 15-week terms in the fall and the spring. Students would take an average of 15 units each term, and classes typically start in late August and end in May.

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