Scheduling Solutions
Sarah McQueen

As any student on campus can testify, one of the major issues with working out a class schedule is being able to get into all the necessary class­es. The students, however, are not the only ones aware of this problem.

“We are putting together an ad-hoc committee to look at scheduling in the widest possible way,” said the Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Jim Barrett. We recently had a report done, a firm that was brought in by the University of Wisconsin system, and they did an analysis of scheduling and classroom capacity and the efficacy related to them. In looking at it, many of the issues there were things that we felt if we set out our minds to them, we could work on them and start solving these problems.”

Problems scheduling classes can be a hassle not only for students, but for professors as well.

“It does often happen that we have to schedule a class other than when we thought we would sched­ule it,” said Mary Bowman, an English professor at the University of Wisconsin-Steven Point. “I think it is much more of an issue for stu­dents who get closed out of courses that they need or that they want. I’ve certainly heard of students having to stick around another semester.”

The ad-hoc committee will be working to improve class scheduling and will begin meeting this month. It is made up of various faculty mem­bers, department assistants and staff from Registration and Records. Dan Kellogg, the registrar, will be chairing the committee.

There are many facets that may complicate the improvement of the scheduling process. Some of the issues that the University is fighting against include: lack of classroom space, confliction of scheduled class times, and even maintaining enough faculty to run the classes.

“We have had a lot of retire­ments,” Barrett said. “It’s a national phenomenon that the baby boomers are retiring. A number of faculty here have retired. We are in a competi­tive hiring environment and in some majors that has been an issue.”

The goal is to meet the needs of the students by offering enough sec­tions of every class so that students are able to fulfill their requirements in a timely manner. To solve the capacity issues, Barrett said the committee is looking at times of day they have not considered before. 60-minute class periods are also being considered. On a larger scale, a new science build­ing will be built soon, offering more classroom space as well as room for new laboratories.

Part of the issue also lies in ensur­ing that students are able to pass their classes and will not have to retake them. In order to help, Barrett said the committee took a close look at the classes that had a high fail or withdraw rate. As a result, additional funding was given to the Tutoring and Learning Center to help tutor students in the problem areas, espe­cially in the sciences where many seem to be struggling.

Advising is another part of the plan to fix scheduling issues. An advi­sor has been hired specifically for the biology department, which seems to have the most overloaded classes.

To help advisors, students, and faculty know what classes will be in demand, a new Degree Progress Report program will soon be imple­mented. The new DPR program will make it easier for students to see what classes they need and will allow faculty to gather data on how many students will need certain classes.

“It is a complex problem when you look at the demand issues that are there,” Barrett said. “It didn’t hap­pen overnight, and it’s going to take us a little bit of time to fix it, but we are working on it pretty diligently.”

Barrett also mentioned that the degree audit improvement is likely to happen a year from now.