UA trying to ease class shortage

By Djamila Noelle Grossman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

In order to register for fall classes, many students went through annoying procedures or were denied classes because of availability, but a new board has formed to tackle the class shortage issue that mostly stems from a lack of money.

Budget cuts and a growing demand for certain majors have left colleges unable to provide enough classes, said Jerrold Hogle, vice provost for instruction, but he said the university is working to get a handle on the problem.

"We are trying mightily to fund some extra money in the colleges," Hogle said. "I care immensely about the students getting courses. They have every right to expect that we offer the sections we say we do."

To fight the problem, Hogle said he created and will be chairman of a task force on upper-division guidelines, which will begin meeting this month.

The board will determine criteria for temporarily suspending minors and apply those criteria in the future, Hogle said, and will also research where high-volume areas are and how to deal with them.

The need for the board came up because some colleges canceled their minors, even though they needed permission to do so, Hogle said.

"I have declared in a message to campus, that 'You can't do that,'" Hogle said. "And we're going to broadcast to the students which minors are restricted."

From 2001 to 2002, the UA lost $46 million in budget cuts from the state Legislature, Hogle said, which affects the university in places where money is not nailed down by contracts, such as teaching assistants or adjuncts.

Hogle said it is unclear how the colleges and the university will fill those holes because there is no "pool of money sitting around."

"It's not like we have this infinitely expanding pie and we just cut more pieces," Hogle said. "If we move money for instruction to one place we often take it from another that also has to instruct."

James Shockey, associate dean for instruction in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said the real problem behind class availability is the state's inability to fund the university.

"The state doesn't have the money or the power to accomplish what we need," Shockey said.

When Hogle became vice provost for instruction in January 2004, he said he put $8.6 million from tuition money into general education, which has resulted in enough courses for every student.

The upper-division courses have always been the responsibility of the colleges, Hogle said, but the number of students in communication, journalism, sociology, psychology, political science and media arts has been increasing by approximately 300 students each year since 2000, and in 2003 there were 5,658 enrolled in a major within the college.

Therefore Hogle said he would work together with the colleges to solve the problem and make enough classes available for student demands.

"We're taking this very seriously," Hogle said. "Which doesn't mean we will have it dissolved by the fall, but I'm hoping that by the end of next year we will have a good handle on this."

Shockey said his college suffers from legislative budget cuts, despite how the college has been significantly gaining students.

Because the college cannot meet student demands, Shockey said they have restricted the access to communication and journalism minors as a temporary solution. If demand increases, there is the possibility of limiting incoming majors as well.

Karli Cadel, a theatre arts freshman, said she has had problems with getting into classes because seniors and juniors have a priority and freshmen are on a waiting list.

Because she is unsure which classes she will be getting, Cadel said she cannot sign up for general education classes until the beginning of May.

"The waiting list is as long as the class size," Cadel said. "But they say they are working on it."

Shelby Clark, a psychology senior, said she thinks the lack of funding for teachers has eliminated a lot of the courses.

Even though she didn't have any problems signing up for the fall, Clark said she has had problems in previous years.

"It's frustrating if all the classes you want to take are unavailable," Clark said.

The psychology department made their classes available on WebReg for the first time this semester, Clark said, which makes it a little more convenient to sign up for classes.