Regents tell UA to curb TA use

By ThÇoden K. Janes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Board of Regents told Provost Paul Sypherd that the University of Arizona needs to place more emphasis on putting ranked faculty back into its classrooms.

At a meeting on the UA campus Friday, Sypherd reported that the percentage of lower-division credit hours taught by ranked faculty dropped from 60 percent to 53 percent from fall 1993 to fall 1994.

Graduation rates, however, have continued to improve, the provost said, adding that this is a reflection of the university's efforts to improve a student's timely progress toward a degree.

"Excellent graduates are really our number one goal," Sypherd told the regents.

Both measures are part of an overall "report card" that provosts from Arizona's three state universities presented to the board as part of an attempt to improve undergraduate education.

The regents told Sypherd that the goal the UA has set of attaining 67 percent of students being taught by ranked faculty Ÿ assistant, associate and full professors Ÿ is "not good enough."

"We need to have an emphasis on our students being taught by faculty and not by TAs," Regent Hank Amos said. "(If I'm a student), I don't want to be taught by TAs."

Sypherd told the board that the reason for the decline in the number of professors teaching courses was due in part to the loss of faculty members who were replaced by graduate students or adjuncts during 1993 and 1994.

Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University also failed to meet their goals for percentage of lower-division credit hours taught by ranked faculty.

ASU Provost Milton Glick said the decline was a result of an increase in the number of credit hours being taught, while NAU's report stated that teaching assistants are used only in freshman English and introductory math and science classes.

This was the only one of the "Hurwitz Measures" (so-named for Regent Andy Hurwitz, who originally requested the data) that all three universities failed to meet.

"This is a report card," Hurwitz said. "We can measure what's going on, but if it doesn't happen then we have to take another look at the mechanisms" designed across the board in improving undergraduate education.

During his report, Sypherd also presented ways the UA is looking at to achieve that goal.

His plans include renovating existing classrooms to "a modern, comfortable arena of learning"; an Integrated Instructional Facility, which is slated to be built beneath the UA Mall; faculty awards designed to reward teaching; revision of tenure and promotion guidelines, and annual performance reviews.

"This is a dramatic transformation for the UA," Sypherd said. "These transformations will (have a positive) effect on the quality of the educational experience."

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