Many of us took huge lecture classes in college. But after the big lecture, the week usually included a smaller section led by a graduate student or other teaching assistant. Those helpers would also assist the professor in grading papers.No doubt, somewhere there is a deanlet or deanling submitting a report to the legislator bragging on how much more efficient and productive and streamlined the university has become. (Perhaps there's even a Sarah Palin quote about professors getting wee-weed up over their situation.)
UAA has few graduate students to work as teaching assistants. Traditionally, nontenured professors, called term faculty and adjuncts, have led sections, but state budget cuts reduced their ranks.
To make the numbers work, departments cut the number of sections and add more students to each.
Tenured professors I talked to this week said the workload can become unmanageable. The only solution is to give each student less attention, reduce the number of assignments, so there will be fewer to grade, and put more classes online.
In the English Department, composition classes are larger and each of the remaining term faculty members instruct more sections. World Literature was taught at three times and now is taught at only one.
The cap on students for that class went from 30 to 60, said department director Dan Kline.
Meanwhile, the professors in upper division courses are probably griping about having to time-slip the English department.
The students? They're on to the scam.
Students know what is going on. The cuts have caused a loss of enrollment. Fewer students produce less tuition revenue.I'm not sure about that "booming national education market." I do know that a pay raise policy of "show us an offer and maybe we'll match it" encourages people to polish their curricula vitae and seek those offers.
The situation also harms the university's ability to recover when Alaska's leaders come to their senses and realize they have cut enough.
High-quality faculty are in demand in the booming national education market. Many could get better pay and resources at other universities, said Diane Hirshberg, director of UAA's Center for Alaska Education Policy Research and a professor of education policy.
"What I'm hearing is people who are doing what they can while keeping their eyes open for other opportunities, and feeling really bad about doing that," Hirshberg said.