Will NC Promise Crowd Our Classrooms?
An increase in 4,000 students? An increase in online traffic by 3,000 percent? Doubling of applications?
A number of rumors surrounding how many potential students UNCP is expected to receive this upcoming fall semester are flying around.
“We have no idea, we really don’t. I mean we can plan - right now [for the face-to-face part of it] we’re planning for 300 new freshman and 200 transfers. But really we don’t know and really won’t know until this summer,” said Associate Provost Scott Billingsley.
Last semester, a task force was created to prepare for the change and expected increase in students. The Pine Needle met with Provost, Dr. David Ward, who was named the head of the task force to discover what departments require with rigorous preparation and how they’re preparing for it.
This task force was comprised of deans, directors and chairs from each department. The purpose of the task force was to get the many departments on campus, academic or otherwise, to collaborate and list the top priorities of their departments.
According to Billingsley, the force met every couple of weeks.
“With any large institution it’s easy to get siloed in your own thing. You know I may say what I’m working on to prepare for NC promise, but I may not be thinking about parking and I’m not really thinking about the demands on the bookstore or the dining center,” said Billingsley. “From a collaboration standpoint I think it was a good idea to bring all those different people into a room and talk.”
The question of where the new influx of students will impact the most has a highly anticipated answer. Some departments that have to change the most are classes with a high rate of freshman students, such as English 1050 or Biology 1000.
Will More Students Hurt The Classroom Quality?
An expected increase in freshman applicants produces larger class sizes in these highly first year oriented classes.
However, due to UNCP’s smaller class sizes that generate around 20 to 25 students per class, some students and professors are worried. Dial room 125, the biggest classroom offered at UNCP, maxes out at 70 students.
The English department has requested four new professors and the political science department is scheduling interviews for a new position this month. Dr. Ward stated that he was viewing the “inherent capacity” of classroom sizes and maximizing them.
That has made some professors anxious about the potential increase in workload Recently the cap, or limit for class sizes, was slightly raised from 20 to 25 in an Intro to Mass Communications class. In addition, the cap for Intro To Biology has been raised from 35 to 40.
“If you’re teaching 20 students or 25 students and they’re all writing papers every week, that’s a lot of grading and so we’re gonna have to have more faculty for that,” said Billingsley.