Strategic Planning

Ad Hoc Committee on Course Scheduling

September 2014

Members: Alex Hrycak, Carla Mann*, Nora McLaughlin, Nigel Nicholson, Jeff Parker, Karen Perkins, Mike Tamada

Charge: to recommend to the faculty one or more new ways to organize the course schedule. The problems or questions to be addressed include: increased demand for 2 x 80 min classes; the regular conflicts between introductory language and introductory science; the possibility of a regular meeting time during the day for both faculty and the larger Reed community; the possibility of more evening classes or classes in the 4-6 pm slot; the possibility of fewer major faculty committees meeting after 5pm.

The committee should consult the final report of the Strategic Planning Groups F and H.

Noting that “anecdotal evidence has it that it is hard to find a time to meet,” and that it has been claimed that “once there was a time when there was an hour-and-a-half window each day when no one had anything on their schedule, with the possible exception of governance work,” F recommended (p.19), “An hour-and-a-half a week is perhaps a reasonable strategic goal: this would be a window in which no classes and no regular meetings of large groups like the Faculty would be scheduled.”

Proposing that “quality of life enter our conversations, and our decision-making, as a valid and weighty factor of consideration,” H noted that, “last spring, the Administration Committee addressed the class schedule issue by requesting feedback from academic departments. The following topics were raised by many respondents:

  • More two-day per week meeting times are needed
  • Maintain a template that accommodates four- and five-day per week classes, with better coordination with other departments
  • Provide three-hour meeting times earlier in the day
  • Reserve time in the week when classes are not scheduled for ad-hoc instruction and meetings to support the governance of the college.

After discussing the many issues raised, as well as further concerns (such as impact on classroom space pressures, overlapping effects on other scheduled events such as PE classes, rehearsals, performances, etc.), the Administration Committee passed the issue on to CAPP, suggesting that an ad hoc committee be formed to examine it more fully, perhaps with outside expertise (operations research). Resolution of this issue has the potential to deliver substantial quality of life improvements to faculty who currently experience any of a number of disadvantages of the current system. One often noted problem is the difficulty for many of attending late afternoon meetings. Yet due to our current schedule, participation in faculty meetings as well as many of the major governing committees requires one to be on campus, regularly, after 5 p.m. Solving this problem alone would have enormous (positive) ramifications for a multitude of faculty members. Aside from support for the common meeting/seminar times at midday, faculty also have expressed to us the desirability of a more flexible array of teaching times, specifically noting the desire to have more two-day (80 minutes) per week times beyond the very limited number of slots currently available. This is one area where we have received deep and uniform support for change among faculty respondents.”