Scheduling issues prompt space changes

The University was forced to add classroom space this fall, after space restrictions left the registrar in a scheduling pinch, University officials said.

Two additional classroom spaces – Rome B104 and Phillips 306 – were added to help ease the scheduling strain for the fall semester, but with 155 general purpose classrooms and 4,500 classes, the University is still struggling to accommodate faculty schedules, Caitlin Huntley, the director of academic scheduling, said.

While every class will be allotted space, the class may not be scheduled at an ideal time for the professor, she said.

“Every time we assemble the schedule there are classes that do not get their first choice of meeting time because not everyone can meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:45 to 2 p.m., by far the most popular time band,” Huntley said in an e-mail.

In an effort to maximize space, general purpose classrooms can only be used during predetermined time bands, a tactic incorporated into the University by Craig Linebaugh, the associate vice president for academic planning. Because of scheduling constraints, additional time bands have been added since they were originally introduced.

“[The bands] begin at 8 a.m. and run until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are 50 minute, 75 minute, 1 hour and 50 minute, and 2 hour and 30 minute bands throughout the day,” Huntley said.

The University offers weekend classes, but most of them are at the graduate level. A lack of enthusiasm from students and faculty has largely hindered any moves from the traditional Monday through Friday class schedule for undergraduates, Huntley said.

“Whether or not we offer more weekend classes is largely up to the faculty and the schools. If there was an understanding or consensus that students would be willing and able to meet on weekends, we could definitely increase the weekend course offerings,” she said.

Online courses are also an alternative. Some departments have begun using hybrid models where a course meets both in the classroom and online.

Huntley acknowledged there are certain times of the day when there is not enough space to meet the high demand for classrooms, but she said she is optimistic about scheduling each class.

“What we need to do is think creatively about how our classes meet, where they meet, and when they meet, and there needs to be flexibility from students and faculty,” she says.

Dean of the Graduate School of Political Management Christopher Arterton said his school is a “demanding unit” for the registrar because the school has little classroom space of their own, but the University “accommodates them the best as they can.”

“Space is one of the University’s most critical problems,” Arterton said.

Full and part-time professors can feel a scheduling pinch due to the limited spaces available, but Shirley Merchant, an adjunct economics professor said class scheduling does not affect her to the same degree.

“As an adjunct, I don’t have any say about the scheduling,” she said. “The department offers me a class at a specific time and place and I agree if it fits my schedule.”

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