Amidst a budget deficit and a drop in student enrollment, the Academic Senate heard from 11 departments requesting to fill faculty positions.
“We are honest about our need. It is real and it is urgent,” said Barbara Bell, department chair of English composition and literature.
The circumstances facing the departments are unique and each of the 13 positions requested are crucial, but the college can only afford what is indispensable. With these financial constraints most of these positions will be left unfilled and exhaust their resources.
The differences between the departments are overshadowed by their common goal, to provide a quality education for all. However, this union in cause means that ultimately any decision will affect the student body.
The Academic Senate is charged with ranking the requests and ultimately voting which ones—if any— are approved.
In the meantime, the obstacles facing the faculty and students aren’t budging. James Campbell represented the math department and addressed the problem during his presentation.
“The math department has never been able to match student demand,” he said.
The problem is precipitous: less faculty teaching more students results in larger classes, with fewer students getting in. The result is dire for students and antithetical to goal of the faculty.
Mathematics isn’t alone. Communications, chemistry, and English all face similar problems.
Communications doesn’t have a faculty member to teach its course on argumentation and debate.
Chemistry Professor Raeanne Napoleon warned of the jeopardy her department is in saying, “Organic Chemistry won’t be taught if the position is open after spring.”
It’s not just mainstream academia that is risk.The nursing program, early childhood education and construction technology will not be able to continue as currently constituted.
The nursing program went from 11 faculty members in 2016 to 8 in to 2017.
“We wouldn’t meet our accreditation if we go under eight. We are putting the program at risk” said Nursing Professor Shari Shields.
The problem goes beyond the classroom. The Luria Library and Disability Services and Programs for Students office have requested positions be filled. The office for disabled students said that it will not have a full time counselor in Fall 2018 if nothing is done.
This makes for a complex state of affairs. The senate will have to decide which of these departments gets help and in what order. Regardless of its choice, many of these positions will be left unfilled putting those departments and services down an uncertain path.
The senate will be voting on Oct. 25, leaving the senators two weeks to deliberate and rank the positions.