Teaching at the Ohio State University for 29 years has allowed Associate Professor of English Dr. Steven Fink to witness many changes. “I’ve grown with the process here.” he says. A process that is sure to change again with the upcoming quarter to semester conversion. This English professor and 19th-century American literature scholar is co-chair of the Semester Conversion Executive Coordinating Committee.
Dr. Fink came to OSU after completing graduate school at the University of Washington with a specialization in 19th Century American literature. Dr. Fink describes the job market that year as similar to the current job market. “Then, as now, it was a tough job market for candidates, with few jobs in a bad economy, so I was very fortunate to get such a good job offer from OSU.” Ohio State was an easy transition from University of Washington. “Both schools were large, well-regarded state universities, drawing chiefly from in-state students, and both were on the quarter system.”
In the past 29 years Dr. Fink has witnessed OSU’s transition from an “open admission, land grant university” to a “selective admission, research I university.” This dramatically changed the culture of the student body. According to Dr. Fink, the level of college preparedness has risen as a direct result. This does not necessarily mean that students have more intellectual experience. “They’re ready to move on intellectually.” says Dr. Fink. “It’s very refreshing. You get to introduce them to a world of experience. OSU has a very likeable student body. It’s a challenge to figure out a starting point, to figure out how intellectually experienced each class is.”
The quarter to semester conversion is one more way to encourage Ohio State’s high ability students to even greater intellectual accomplishments. The pace of a semester is more conducive to research and will increase opportunities for communications and research between Ohio State and other universities on the semester system. Since the majority of universities are on the semester system, the quarter to semester conversion will allow Ohio State to become a more competitive institution.
Dr. Fink welcomes the semester change, saying that although it is “hard to move a big ship” the challenges are short term. “I don’t foresee any long-term challenges. The quarter to semester conversion creates opportunities.” The quarter to semester conversion also has several positive side effects. Before the conversion takes place academic departments must adapt every course and major to the semester system. This creates an opportunity for the departments to examine and redesign their curriculum. As a result, Dr. Fink says “Departments are going to be better than ever. Your students are going to be educated by programs that have just undergone a self-assessment.”
Dr. Fink’s acceptance and experience with change at Ohio State more than prepares him for the challenges and benefits of the quarter to semester conversion. His leadership both within the English Department and on the Semester Conversion Executive Coordinating Committee is a vital component to the future success of the university. Ohio State is lucky to have such great faculty leadership!