Faculty group pro-class schedule changes
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 04:10
The Faculty Senate's scheduling and calendar review ad hoc committee proposed Monday night, to add three 75-minute class periods on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and eliminate the majority of Friday afternoon classes.
The committee presented the schedule alteration, which will be voted on in November, during an open discussion in Smith Hall. The proposed schedule, called Option A, will require most class periods to end on Friday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.
Spanish professor Hans-Joerg Busch, committee chair and coordinator of a campuswide survey regarding the potential schedule changes, said many professors want to schedule classes during time slots between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which creates a shortage of available classrooms, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"The system allows for enough flexibility for the departments to decide when they want to teach," Busch said.
The committee, created last spring, also offered a second proposal, called Option B, in which class periods begin at 8:30 a.m instead of 8 a.m. Although the second option received approval from more than 40 percent of votes of surveyed students and faculty, the committee recommended Option A because it provides an additional time slot and reduces the number of potential scheduling conflicts.
The committee determined that starting classes at 8:30 a.m. would not be particularly effective in increasing attendance for earlier classes. An additional 30 minutes could also be detrimental to schedules of student-athletes the music students, who often participate in organized activities in the afternoon.
Classes, discussions and laboratories managed by specific departments, such as biology and chemistry, can still occur on Friday afternoons but instructors may have to consider potential scheduling conflicts, Busch said.
Communication professor Ralph Begleiter said the additional 75-minute periods would be welcome because class periods on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are too short.
"I think that every time I've taught a 50-minute class, I've found teaching problems in getting the material presented and discussed," Begleiter said.
If accepted, the committee will implement Option A on a three-year provisional basis and conduct an evaluation during the 2015 fall semester to determine if further revision is necessary. Committee members did not establish a concrete date for the schedule changes to go into effect, but the 2013 fall semester is a potential starting point.
The committee's proposal for the adoption of Option A received a mixed response from some faculty members, such as Michael Gilbert, vice president of Student Life, who said many students would use the free time on Friday afternoons for non-academic purposes.
"I'm very concerned with a change to the academic schedule that will extend the weekend," Gilbert said.
Eric Tranby, sociology and criminal justice department professor, said he was concerned the proposed alterations would send the wrong message to the student body.
"Their culture will change if they have fewer demands on Fridays," Tranby said. "The people who research the drug and alcohol usage on campus are concerned with the already high levels of abuse that exist with the current schedule."
Other faculty, such as physics professor and committee member John Morgan, felt the proposed schedule changes would not have a significant effect on Friday class attendance.
"A vast majority of our students are not going to class anyway on late Friday afternoon," Morgan said.
Suzanne Stanley, the university's associate registrar, said some professors have indicated they like to avoid holding class Friday afternoons because of other academic commitments, such as teaching at other universities or attending seminars.
"There are some faculty on this campus who do not want to be here on a Friday afternoon," Stanley said. "If somebody wants to teach on a Friday afternoon, I will be happy to find you a room."
There were no students in attendance at the committee meeting Monday, which came as a surprise to Tavry.
"Your class schedule affects pretty much everything you do as a student," Tavry said. "Shouldn't [students] be all over this?"