Forums on scheduling, Senate vote announced
Forums on scheduling, Senate vote announcedSeptember 09, 2003Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s daily life may see sweeping changes as the result of a new scheduling proposal. The University Senate Committee on Instruction and the Office of Undergraduate Studies are asking the University Senate to consider a new course scheduling paradigm. The new paradigm is specifically designed to respond to issues raised by students, faculty and staff.
Before the Oct. 15 vote on a “sense of the Senate” resolution, the Committee on Instruction and Undergraduate Studies are inviting all interested students, faculty and staff to attend open forums to discuss the proposal. They will be held in Maxwell Auditorium on Sept. 11, Sept. 17; and Sept. 18 from 5-7 p.m. Further information about this proposal is available by clicking the “Class Scheduling Proposal” button on SU’s home page or visiting http://cstl.syr.edu/scheduling/survey.asp.
Chancellor and President Kenneth A. Shaw will decide in late October whether to proceed with the new paradigm. If approved, it will go into effect for the Fall 2004 Semester.
“Ideally, schedules mirror and facilitate the educational, research and developmental mission of a university. Student access to appropriate courses, the concerns of faculty about pedagogy, and appropriate time for faculty research and Student Affairs programming should be top priorities,” says Vice President for Undergraduate Studies Ron Cavanagh. “SU’s current scheduling pattern no longer effectively prioritizes these and therefore requires change.” Cavanagh and Ernest Hemphill, Committee on Instruction chair, have outlined their proposal in Sept. 5 letters to all SU students, faculty and staff.
According to Hemphill, the University has studied the scheduling issue since Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund’s April 2002 call for more robust consideration of how SU schedules its classes. “Over the past 30 years, there has been a serious erosion of designated class times and the distribution of classes has become skewed,” says Hemphill. “Students face overlapping and irregular class times, limiting their choices of courses, particularly courses across departments, schools and colleges.” As an example, Hemphill points out that “a Monday/Wednesday class that runs from 8:30-9:50 a.m. prevents students from also enrolling in classes that meet Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 9:35-10:30 a.m., and prevents using the room for another class commencing at 9:35 a.m.”
Additionally, the movement of classes to irregular times on Monday/Wednesday and the almost complete utilization of 80-minute time slots on Tuesday/Thursday means that only half as many classes are offered on Friday as are offered on other days of the week. According to Hemphill, “this is thought to have contributed significantly to the perception that the University undervalues its mission of scholarship and education.”
If approved, the new scheduling paradigm will introduce several changes, including:
- Time blocks for classes will be built around two two-day sequences of 80 minute classes: Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday. The 80-minute blocks are the most popular on the current schedule among instructors and students.
- Classes of 55 minutes’ duration, currently meeting Monday/Wednesday/Friday, will be shifted to Monday/Wednesday/Thursday.
- Wednesday afternoons from 2-5 p.m. will be set aside as a time for activities such as school, college, departmental and all-University programming; student internships; advising; service learning; clubs; and volunteering.
- Classroom use will be distributed more efficiently through earlier starting times, allowing space to be better utilized.
- All undergraduate classes will be required to meet at standard times; nonstandard-length classes, such as studios or laboratory sessions, will be expected to start at standard times and use multiples of 55 or 80 minutes.
Based on the results of the Senate vote and data collected during the nearly two years in which this matter has been studied, Shaw will choose between two alternatives: To proceed with the new proposal, or to keep the present paradigm but require adherence to stated class time periods.
In addition to the open forums, Web site and discussion at the University Senate meeting, Cavanagh and Hemphill are available to discuss the paradigm with groups of students, faculty and staff. To request such a presentation, call 443-1368 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“No scheduling paradigm can cure all problems or actualize all opportunities, but we believe that given the issues presently on the table, this proposal embodies the deliberate tradeoffs needed to prioritize teaching, learning, research and service,” says Cavanagh. “This makes the most effective use of University time and resources to support the success of students and faculty.”