With University officials making plans to operate under a lower budget, it seems that students will not be the only ones cutting classes in the coming years.
University Provost Paul Courant said Monday there are plans to offer some classes less often in order to save money. But such a plan would result in more students in those classes.
A decrease in scheduled classes, Courant said, would be done in a way so that the consequences to students and faculty are at a minimum. He added that no classes would be simply stricken from the curriculum.
“We have the interest that there be minimal disruption,” he said. “There is no intention of pulling classes out of the calendar.”
As the plan currently stands, University deans are examining their respective departments for classes with continually open seats, Courant said, adding that these classes could possibly be offered once in the academic year, rather than every semester.
“It’s a very strong possibility that certain classes will be offered less frequently,” Courant said. “But there will be ample warning and we will make sure students’ programs aren’t disrupted.” English lecturer Dan Stein said having more seats filled would mean more pages to read for the instructors in his department.
“All of the writing-based classes will have more work because of grading essays,” he said.
Another consequence Courant’s plan would involve less personalized instruction for students n class, Stein said.
“If it gets too big, it gets too anonymous,” he said. “It’s going to be harder for students to get to know each other.”
But dealing with budget constraints could create positive changes for the University by forcing the administration to closely scrutinize its current operations, English Prof. Ralph Williams said.
“Periods of restraint don’t need to be periods of decline,” he said. “As with any change of this sort, there could come both inventive and interesting teaching situations.”
Williams said there are alternative methods of cutting class time that would still maintain a productive learning environment. Some lecture courses could meet twice a week instead of three times, while organizing out-of-class group meetings for discussion, he said.
“We may come up with better and more interesting ways of teaching because we must try to maintain or even raise our standards,” he said.
Possibilities may exist for the University to find a positive outcome in the diminishing budget, but some students feel reducing class times will most likely make it harder on them.
“It’s harder to get help when you’re in a larger class,” Engineering sophomore Phil Lapczynski said. “And it’s already hard to get all your classes into your schedule. Offering less class won’t help that problem.”
Lapczynski said he sees plenty of other viable options for cost-cutting the University should consider before students bear the consequences. “They should spend less money on expanding and building, instead of cutting costs in current academics,” he said.