The faculty survey presents the opportunity for faculty members to voice concern regarding the current direction of the institution and with existing policies. As a result, the survey can be used to evaluate several different aspects of the university’s culture and operation.
One of the major topics within the faculty survey was the effects on professor’s workloads as a result of institutional politics, increased number of undergraduate students, and creation of a more specialized curriculum across the campus.
An increase in the number of undergraduate students while attempting to make curriculum more specialized by creating new course while also keeping the number of faculty members the same, results on additional teaching strain on the university’s professors.
Teaching Professor Jeffery Holley elaborated on his personal experience with the phenomena, “It could be the splitting of existing common courses. Mechanics of Materials used to be a common course that is now split into Solid Mechanics and Mechanics of Materials. That creates the need for another person to come in to teach the course. This in turn increases the demand for professors to teach additional courses.” He continued, “More students and more classes is the perfect storm for professors’ workloads.”
Reducing the number of specialized courses could also positively affect the student body. Scheduling more general courses could result in more options during registration periods while also easing the workload on professors to improve the quality of lectures being delivered. However, the university wants to maintain the uniqueness of individual academic programs by offering unique courses that place additional strain on the faculty.
How can both be achieved? The simple solution is to increase the number of professors and in-turn the cost of tuition. Professor Holley proposes class consolidation for lower level courses and placing additional academic demand on higher level courses to create diversity across the academic disciplines. Holley claims that this would require, “additional coordination but there would also be less lecture time”. However, the increase in collaboration requires all members of campus to first come to agreement and establish a functional system to apply a drastically different approach to the operation of the university.
The results of the faculty survey imply several other topics that need to be addressed. I urge all students to take a look into the faculty senate’s documents to gain perspective on the future and present condition of our university.