Committees presented on subjects ranging from faculty affairs to proposals to change class lengths and times — the most contentious agenda items of the day — during last week’s Academic Senate meeting at UC Santa Cruz.
Chancellor George Blumenthal began the meeting by restating that the UC will admit 5,000 more students systemwide next fall, as the UC Office of the President (UCOP) first announced last November. UCSC is expecting about 300 more undergraduate students than 2014-15’s enrollment numbers — 200 freshmen and 100 transfer students.
Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway presented budget updates and solutions to the expected overcrowding at UCSC. Galloway said UCSC has an undergraduate over-enrollment supplemental funding system of $2.2 million next year to provide 75-80 additional courses and sections for fall 2016, $1 million to hire 86 more teaching assistants and $3 million to hire additional faculty.
In effort to ease the impact of admitting additional students and increasing classroom availability by 20 percent over the next few years, the Division of Undergraduate Education proposed changes to class durations, time slots and finals week schedules. Currently, three options exist for implementing these changes.
Student Union Assembly Vice President of Academic Affairs and Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) representative Seamus Howard said holding earlier and later classes will impact all UCSC students. Howard expressed concerns surrounding mental health if a student has a very late class one day and a very early class the following day.
“All student life revolves around our schedules,” Howard said during the meeting. “Everything will have to be changed — and that is a mess.”
UCSC class lengths are currently based on 42 minutes of class time per unit per week, whereas the UC standard for class length is 37.5 minutes per unit. For example, a five unit class would require 210 minutes, or three and a half hours per week. Potentially cutting down on class minutes per quarter may free up time for an extra class length during the school day.
Attendees’ comments also raised the issue of limited public transportation during early and late hours. Unanimously, the senate suggested there was no fix-all solution for revamping class schedules and that adding extra class slots will only occur if absolutely necessary.
Other issues addressed at the meeting included employee child care and campus spousal/partner hire resources. The Committee on Faculty Welfare said UCSC is the only UC campus without an on-campus child care facility and discussed resources for partners of UCSC faculty who are interested in finding employment in Santa Cruz.
CEP also discussed UCSC’s general education requirements for writing, proposed solutions for students to expedite fulfilling these requirements and suggested creating a committee on courses of instruction that would establish approval of new courses, course modifications, prerequisites and credit valuation.
The Academic Senate will meet again in spring quarter to follow up on these issues.