Crunch for class space causes campus shuffle

Professors who teach on the Foggy Bottom Campus are being asked to schedule their classes during less popular time slots next semester because fewer classrooms will be available.

Due to construction and maintenance of academic buildings on Foggy Bottom, professors will make use of 13 fewer classrooms in the fall than they have this semester, which means some schedule juggling, University Registrar Elizabeth Amundson said.

“The Registrar’s Office works with the dean’s offices in all of the schools to find the optimal distribution of the class sections to be offered across the available instructional time bands,” Amundson said in an e-mail. “Classes of all different sizes need to be offered in each time band, so that the best use of the classroom space is realized.”

Amundson said the schedule of classes for the fall, which was released last week, is already set in preparation for April registration. Some schedule adjustments will be made through August as new faculty are hired, new courses are approved and other departmental changes are made.

Eight classrooms across Corcoran Hall, Monroe Hall, Smith Hall and 1957 E Street are being converted into faculty research labs for the fall, Amundson said. Two classrooms in Gelman Library will be combined to create an area consisting of academic space and a new reading room for donated collections that professors will use.

Craig Linebaugh, senior associate vice provost for academic operations, said the converted research space would continue to be used for academics. In the basement of Monroe Hall, for example, he said three classrooms will be combined into a single room for the physics department to facilitate new teaching approaches.

Roy Guenther, executive associate dean for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said in an e-mail to the school’s faculty Friday that the hiring of new faculty and the limited number of technology-equipped classrooms will also affect professors’ schedules.

The fall schedule lists 152 classes for the 8 a.m. time slot, only one more than this semester. Professors typically request more time bands, or intervals when the University holds classes, at 11:10 a.m. or 12:45 p.m. for their courses than the Academic Scheduling office can accommodate, Linebaugh said.

“I must respectfully ask for your patience and cooperation as we work with you to manage the remaining problems and schedule changes for next fall,” Guenther said in an e-mail that was provided to The Hatchet.

The University has looked to the Mount Vernon Campus, along with its Virginia Science and Technology Campus and other off-campus graduate student locations, to mitigate a squeeze on academic space as it nears a city-imposed enrollment cap.  The first-year University Writing Program’s move to the Vern this semester has relieved some classroom scheduling issues, Amundson said.

Young-Key Kim-Renaud, chair of the Department of East Languages and Literatures, said the shortage of classrooms, especially high-tech classrooms, will create problems. She added that she did not want more professors from her department to end up teaching in poorly equipped classrooms like in 2020 K Street.

“It was like that even before this squeeze. The University does not have enough technology classrooms,” Kim-Renaud, who uses PowerPoint, said. “[Technology]’s not just a cake decoration. It’s really the cake.”

She added that she has shied away from moving more classes to 8 a.m., because early morning courses achieve a lower percentage of their learning goals, according to the surveys compiled by the department.

Edward Berkowitz, a history and public policy professor, said ongoing campus construction projects will help the University grow but exacerbate the classroom shortage.

“I accept the short term inconvenience in the expectation of long term improvement and just hope that my seniority means that I will not have to teach a class on K Street or at 1776 G Street,” Berkowitz said. “Some chalk would also be nice, but I try to keep my expectations modest.”

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