Course hide-and-seek

There is a feeling of accomplishment for a student who is able to lock in the perfect class schedule, a harmonious balance struck in a vast sea of knowledge. In some cases, though, UAA students aren’t actually seeing all of the course sections that may become available.

Keeping certain course sections hidden, primarily those taught by adjunct faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, until enrollment numbers reach a certain threshold, is what is known as rolling enrollment.

Though rolling enrollment has been in use at least as far back as the three previous deans in the CAS, it has recently received greater attention from some faculty.

Most of the rolling enrollment has been happening in the Art Department, where as of last Friday, 13 course sections listed in the fall 2014 class schedule were not visible to students registering for classes.

Professor of Photography Deborah Tharp recently discovered that two of the three sections of Beginning Photography she thought were available to students were actually being hidden.

“They didn’t tell me about this when I was making the schedule. This is the first time I’ve seen it,” Tharp said.

Tharp said Beginning Photography has seen consistently healthy enrollment throughout the last 20 years she has taught at UAA and doesn’t understand why she was not consulted about the changes.

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Her proposed solution to the problem includes setting target numbers for enrollment for all courses, defining cancellation dates in cases where enrollment falls short and making it clear to students that if a course section does not meet the target enrollment it will be cancelled.

CAS Dean John Stalvey suggests that a combination of rolling enrollment and wait lists is an effective way to deal with the budgetary challenges facing UAA.

“The addition of wait list information to the use of our prior enrollment management practices is helping us to meet students’ course needs without wasting valuable resources,” Stalvey said in an email.

Tharp and other faculty have expressed concerns about the scheduling difficulties that could come with offering fewer sections, especially for incoming freshmen.

In an April Faculty Senate meeting, psychology professor Mari Ippolito stated, “In our department — I can’t speak for anyone else — if a class doesn’t fill and it’s empty, we cancel it ourselves and we combine sections ourselves once we know what students want. But right now we’re preventing them from telling us what they want.”

The Philosophy Department had several courses hidden prior to the current semester, but the effects were inconsequential according to department chair John Mouracade.

“For us it had no impact either way. The main concern is that it was discovered this was being done after it was done,” Mouracade said.

Whether rolling enrollments make sense for the College of Arts and Sciences as a whole remains to be seen.

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