The University is experiencing an acute classroom shortage, according to a report released to faculty leaders Friday. An exploding undergraduate population, coupled with city regulations limiting non-residential building, are leading administrators to consider scheduling classes during non-traditional times, as well as other changes.
Despite a “building boom,” the number of classrooms available in the next few years will decline by 21 percent because of planned renovations and construction, according to the report, presented to the Faculty Senate.
The proposed academic budget for next year details the number of classrooms available as a growing concern, noting undergraduate enrollment has grown 46 percent in the past five years, with the number of course sections rising by only 24 percent.
While GW facilities have met this need in the past, planned construction next spring will eliminate classrooms in Funger and Monroe halls and the Hall of Government, creating a scheduling crunch.
The classroom shortage and subsequent lack of adequate course sections may force students to alter class schedules or take summer courses to complete University requirements.
Faculty Senate members presented their concerns about the budget to the administration.
“The total number of classrooms is not something that is encouraging,” said William Griffith, chair of the Senate’s Fiscal Planning and Budgeting Committee. “We will have to have more classes at 8 a.m. and (other less popular times). I’m not sure if that is our future, or our future is much worse than that.”
The construction on Funger will be part of the new School of Business and Public Management, while Monroe and the Hall of Government will undergo renovations. However, plans to go ahead with construction of a new business school are on hold because city zoning regulations.
The lack of classroom space incited discussion as Faculty Senate members were addressed by Assistant Vice President for Academic Planning Craig Linebaugh.
“One of the huge problems is the departments trying to schedule classes between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Linebaugh said, adding there is no space available at 6:10 p.m. on the entire campus.
Senate members spoke of difficulties in classroom scheduling this past semester, noting it is not going to get any easier.
“We have a problem with the city,” said Faculty Senate Chair Lilien Robinson, referring to the Board of Zoning and Adjustment ruling that requires GW to house a majority of students to live within campus boundaries or outside Foggy Bottom before building any non-residential project. “We can’t build any more academic buildings until we build more housing.”
With GW planning to enroll a freshman class of 2,400 – 150 more than initially expected – to increase revenue, the problem will only continue to escalate, Robinson said.
Linebaugh said the University does not plan on adding classrooms but is evaluating other options, including scheduling more Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, and other non-traditional times.
However, until the zoning regulations are resolved, officials said there is a limit to what can be done.
“I don’t know what can be recommended, but I’m very sympathetic,” Robinson said. “We are hoping to resolve legal issues so we can proceed to do what we need to do.”