By Megan Schuller
Editor in Chief
Starting this spring semester of 2017, Roosevelt’s course load for tenure professors will increase from three to four.
Tenure, tenure track, and full time professors will teach an additional course or commit to service within the university. The university previously had a 3-3 course load, meaning three sections taught in the fall and spring. This change is an attempt to help reduce budget issues and increase student retention, according to Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Lois Becker.
“There were 1,400 less students over the course of the last two years,” Becker said. “Because we’ve had less students than we’ve expected this fall for a variety of reasons, in order to improve upon the budget shortfall we are asking all the professors, the tenure, tenure track, and full time professors to teach an additional section.”
As a result enrollment and other budget issues, what was originally thought to be a $2.3 million budget deficit for the 2016-17 school year is now estimated to be upwards of $12 million, according to President Ali Malekzadeh at University Town Hall meetings held during the week of Sept. 26.
“Even before we knew the consequences of MAP [grants] and everything, the President had talked about a slightly different strategy of enrollment. We think that we can have a balanced budget in three years if we shift students and get more graduate and transfer students,” Becker said.
There will not be enough classes for every tenure professor to do four classes so faculty can choose to teach a fourth class or service. Service would be classified as conducting research, running a tutor program, or something that the university considers could increase student retention, completion and graduation according to Becker.
This change in the course ratio could also affect adjuncts, leaving them fewer available classes to teach this spring.
Joseph Fedorko, President of RAFO the Adjunct Union, said that that RAFO is working towards assisting adjuncts during this transition. RAFO has set up regular meetings with President Ali Malekzadeh and the Provost to discuss the impacts and plans. The Union has representation on committees tasked with assisting in building enrollments for freshmen, transfer and graduate students.
“RAFO itself is creating plans to keep adjuncts engaged with us and RU through the Spring semester. The plans the administration have shown us so far indicate that, if the plans pan out, there will be both opportunity and need for adjuncts in the coming school years,” Fedorko said.
Becker confirmed that there will be fewer sections for adjuncts with this change for the spring semester.
“That would only be the case for this spring, because we’ve also put out retirement plans, and as people decide to retire people, we’ll have to fill in with adjuncts. I would see for the spring semester there may be less courses per adjunct but I think it will catch up by next year, “ Becker said.
Tim Curtis, an adjunct in the business and communication departments during the fall semester, does not have a class in the spring semester.
“My hope is that it’s temporary,” Curtis said. “And that is also the nature of being an adjunct, that sometimes you’ll have classes and sometimes you won’t. You have to adjust accordingly.”
Several departments are going to be consolidated, and there are mixed ideas on whether this change will affect adjuncts.
“Since we’re not eliminating any majors it’s not going to affect them,” Becker said. “For the upcoming semester the thing that will impact the adjuncts most is the professors teaching an additional course.”
While Becker believes that other factors will affect the adjuncts more, Fedorko said that the consolidation could impact them.
“The closing of the College of Professional Studies, [can] potentially can have a major impact on adjuncts as programs from CPS are absorbed into other colleges,” Fedorko said.
Becker reassures that the decrease in availability of classes for adjuncts is temporary for this upcoming spring semester.
“We hope to keep the best people because come fall, there will be positions,” Becker said.
In the future Becker said Roosevelt hopes to do a year- round schedule so professors can sign up for courses and faculty can plan better.
“I’ll miss next semester, but my hope is that I’ll see [students] at least next year, and maybe over the summer,” Curtis said.
Editor’s Note: Tim Curtis has since gotten a class for this semester.