Special Meeting of the Faculty Senate
November 11, 2014
The meeting was called to order at 12:25 p.m.
- Faculty Senate President Andy Lees opened the meeting with remarks about the development of the block scheduling plan and how it had not been discussed and faculty had not had an opportunity to respond to it. It was for that reason that today’s meeting was called. Vice Chancellor Larry Gaines and Associate Chancellor Julie Amon, who had spent a lot of time over the past year developing the plan, were invited to give some background and answer questions. Larry and Julie were to stay until 12:55 when they had to leave attend another meeting. Andy asked that all other Administrators leave at that time as well, so that faculty might feel freer to express their thoughts. Andy also said that motion would be presented by Senator Wayne Glasker later in the meeting. The floor was then given to Larry Gaines.
- Larry explained that Chancellor Pritchett had called a committee together to revamp the scheduling process. Under the current process, most classes meet between 10:00 and 3:00, Monday through Thursday. The objective of the project was to spread out undergraduate classes over more of the day and week, so that students would be able to take more of the classes they needed each semester, and would be more likely to graduate on time. A second objective was to better utilize scarce classroom resources. The committee, he said, included eight faculty members. Throughout the process the committee met, was presented drafts of the proposal, was asked for comments, reviewed the tweaked plan, met again, etc. Associate Deans and Deans were also involved. He admitted that since he was here today, he suspected that communication with the full faculty could have been more efficient. He then took questions and comments from the floor.
- Lynn Vallone, Childhood studies – Where is the evidence or data that was collected that undergraduate students needed a different type of schedule? How would the graduate programs be affected? Exactly what features of the old system were causing problems, and could those problems have been addressed without radically revamping the schedule?
- L Gaines – I’m not sure if there is empirical data, but we do have anecdotal data. We do know most of our classes are between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. There is a lot of classroom space available before and after that time. A majority of our students work 30 hours per week. All of our students have unmet financial needs and most of them meet those needs by working. Our goal was to assist them in providing more opportunities to build a full schedule.
- J Amon – We do have qualitative data from Fall 2011 to Spring of 2012. We had campus wide interviews with faculty, staff and students, and class scheduling problems were mentioned by all three of those groups. These problems also came up with in meetings with the Deans, Associate Deans and the Registrar’s office.
- L Vallone – As a department chair, I believe I am currently scheduling classes at times when faculty want to teach them and students want to take them. Students with families will have a hard time taking 8 am classes and meeting their family responsibilities. The data that is claimed to exist just does not seem persuasive.
- John Wall, Philosophy and Religion – Why the elimination of the free period? Traditionally it is a time when students could meet and attend extracurricular events.
- L Gaines – The free period has been moved to 2:10 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 11:00 a.m. to noon on Tuesday and Thursday. It was moved to provide a different opportunity to students and to alleviate the free period crush at the dining facilities. As we increase enrollment, it is difficulty to increase the size of dining facilities.
- Lauren Silver – How does the shift in times of classes alleviate this?
- L Gaines – The less conventional hour (of free period) will alleviate the crowds. Not everyone has a class before or after the free period so crowds will be lighter.
- Bill Whitlow, Psychology – Was there input from students on this schedule and what kind of input was received?
- L Gaines – we talked to students before we did the process and to Student Services throughout the process.
- J Amon — we talked to students throughout the process. (A. Lees – This question is addressed in the “FAQ” handout.) The president of the SGA was on the committee and we met with him and other members of the committee before they had a proposal and after the development of the first proposal. In addition, it was taken to the student leaders, via Patrick Wallace, who talked about it and brought information back to Marybeth Daisey.
- Bill Whitlow – SGA is not representative of all students. Are the majority of students truly aware of the complexity of this new schedule?
- Kris Lindenmeyer, Dean CCAS and faculty member – I have had experience with this type of scheduling on other campuses. The reason this came up initially was that we do not have enough classrooms and have had tremendous growth. This type of program and trend has worked across the country because it better meets the student’s needs and the facilities on campus.
- Ira Roseman – Were other options than block scheduling considered? Since there are concerns raised about the objectivity of the data, would this not be the time to do a survey of faculty and students to find out what the reaction is to this type of scheduling?
- L Gaines – I too am very concerned. My only job on this campus is to support the students. But I am limited technologically in what I can and cannot do. The new schedule has already been implemented for Fall 2015. Yes, we need to look and see how the faculty and students feel about it. I am not averse to doing a survey, but it is too late to change the process.
- Janet Golden, History – Could this data have been presented to the departments, and could they have been asked to make efforts within the existing scheduling system before going to such a drastic change, without surveying faculty and students? Why are graduate courses and programs being forced into this type of scheduling? What advantage could this possibly have? For the record, there are three A&S faculty members on the committee; the others serve in Administrative roles.
- L Gaines- we are at capacity in the evening. We do have empirical data on that. We included Graduate and Undergraduate students in classes held in an inventory classroom. If you are not using an “inventory classroom”, then you need not follow the block schedule. Also, in special cases, I am not opposed to an exception to the rules.
- Margery Amdur, Fine Arts – This block scheduling does not work for studio practice. We cannot meet for 2 hours twice a week for a studio course. Most studio classes meet for 6 hours per week. We would need two 3 hour sessions.
- L Gaines – Some of the blocks are three hours long. You can potentially have five 3 hour blocks a week.
- Ana Laguna, Spanish – I teach in the evenings and see many empty classrooms in Armitage on the first and second floors. Is the Registrar’s information updated and correct? Is evening classroom space really maxed out?
- L Gaines – Will check with the Registrar again. She can’t explain why there is no one in those rooms. If she is told there is a class scheduled in a room, and it is reported that there is no one there at that time, we need to find out why. (Did the class let out early? Did the class meet at all that night? Is the class cancelled for the semester and the system needs to be updated?)
- Terri Cristofaro (Registrar) – If courses have moved to another classroom, the Registrar’s office needs to be notified so that the system can be updated.
- Haydee Herrera, Math – what are the conflicts that students have reported with the existing scheduling system?
- Julie Amon – too many classes across blocks, so the students could not take classes before or after. This came up at all student meetings.
- Jo Johansen, Math – Students complain that they have to come in on Friday only to take my class. Almost no one else schedules classes on MWF morning with the current schedule. Having most classes meet two days per week should assist students, as many of them have to work and could potentially have a day off campus to do that.
- Andy ? – Tech constraints were mentioned. At this point, what exactly could you change, if anything?
- Tim DiVito, OIT – Scheduling system opened early to allow for more time in learning this new system. It is active now. We can’t go back.
- Julie Amon – Since the system is already changed and has been opened and some departments have begun to enter in their data, Fall 2015 will move forward with the new scheduling system.
- Andy ? – So the answer is there can be no change?
- L Gaines – if the group in total vote for change, then the suggestions would be considered.
- Patrice Mareschal, Public Policy – The Public Policy Graduate program is at night. 10% of these classes are required to be on a Friday night?
- Julie Amon – The rules, as presented, are only for undergraduate programs.
Andrew Lees, Senate President, closed the open discussion with Administrators, thanked them for coming and asked them to leave so that the faculty could openly discuss their concerns.
Senator Wayne Glasker presented a motion to accept the resolution (as handed out) to be considered for approval. Seconded by Bill Whitlow. The floor was opened for discussion and debate.
Lauren Silver asked if there was faculty representation, what did it entail? Bill Whitlow, a member of the Block Scheduling Committee, recalled that sometime in spring 2014 the plan as presented now was presented to the Committee as “this is what is going to be done”.
Drew Humphries said she knew that there was a plan in the works several months ago. She asked for a copy, but never received one, and took that to mean that it was NOT to be circulated.
Shauna Shames, Political Science, suggested revising the proposed resolution or amending it to say we need three periods of campus wide consideration to include a data gathering process, public presentation of the data, and public commentary and debate, so that the various constituencies have a voice.
Wayne Glasker said that although the block schedule has been input into the system and cannot be changed, the rules can still be changed.
Mary Bravo, Psychology learned at the training session that the final exam schedule has not yet been worked for the new block scheduling. Also, departments may have difficulty in scheduling those courses taught by part time lecturers, as many of them hold additional jobs and will not fit into this new scheduling system.
Alexander Samokhvalov, Chemistry, said that for his department to be accredited, the labs must be three hours long, but the block schedule only has two and a half hour blocks. He also expressed concern about public transportation: evening classes will end later than the last train from campus. And he pointed out potential issues with employee unions: if classes start at 8:00 a.m., then offices should be opened too. Will this violate any union rule?
??, Sociology – if there is no room in the evening, how is it that the campus seems so deserted and empty?
Perhaps the reason is hybrid classes;
Joe Barbarese – is this only happening on our campus? Were others models reviewed?
Tom Ryan was charged with gathering models from other colleges/universities.
A senator agreed that the resolution needs to be revised, based on what we now know.
Stuart Charmé – It seems that if it is going forward for fall, it is more than likely in line for spring too. Perhaps we need to designate this as a “pilot” program for the year.
Rick? – How is it that this program, a computer program, cannot be stopped?
Ira Roseman – If info goes in to the computer, it can be deleted out. He suggested that the program be delayed.
Tim Knievel, Political Science – The resolution should address the common problems that everyone is going to have with the implementation of this system.
Lauren Silver – Why can’t the campus just go back to the existing scheduling system, take input from all groups, collect data and make the changes based on the data collected and roll this out later. It’s only been in effect for a few weeks.
Carol Singley – Why can’t the tech team, or outside resources, revert back to the existing system? It appears that the Administration doesn’t want to spend the money to make the change to go back.
Eric Klein, Biology – Any system of reforming the schedule needs to go hand in hand with a review of the Registrar’s office updating their data. For example, I had a class of 15 students, but the scheduling system said I needed a classroom for 80 students.
??, Social Work – Internships, done in senior year, must be done with a faculty member, as per accreditation rules. This new system, with the rules as imposed, will make that difficult at best.
Ana Laguna, Spanish – It seems that the driving force behind the new scheduling system is service departments (Dining, Registrar’s Office, Technology) and not the students or faculty. Who should decide how the campus works?
Andrew Lees, mindful of the time, recognized Senator Wayne Glasker who called the question: Should the Senate vote immediately on the resolution as it stood? Lees said that any senator, who felt that more discussion was called for, should vote no, and if the noes won, the Senate would continue the discussion at the next meeting. A vote of hands was taken. Yes votes = 15; No votes = 7.
On the resolution, a vote of hands was taken. Yes votes = 12; Opposed = 4; Abstain = 5. The resolution was carried.
Andrew Lees said that he would communicate the results to the Administrators and convey the concerns raised. He also said that he would solicit comments via Sakai from the full faculty to be included in the report to Administration.
Meeting adjourned at 1:20 p.m.
Present (Senators): Eric Klein, Jongmin Nam, Alexander Samokhvalov, Robin Stevens, Rajiv Gandhi, Osama Hamed, Bill FitzGerald, Carol Singley, Aaron Hostetter, Margery Amdur, Garcia Prospero, Ana Laguna, Nick Kapur, Susan Mokhberi, Julie Still, Joseph Gerver, Grace Brannigan, Shauna Shames, Tim Knievel, Wayne Chan, Bill Whitlow, Brandi Blessett, Kenneth Elliott, Ken Hohing, Cyril Reade
Present (Invited administrators): Larry Gaines, Julie Amon, Kriste Lindenmeyer, and Marybeth Daisey
Absent: Laurie Bernstein, Keith Green, Paul Bernstein, Debashis Kushary, Will Y. Lee, James Gennone, Joseph Cutuli, Stephen Danley, Katrina Hazzard-Donald; Louis Tuthill; Jean-Louis Hippolyte