Provost Joseph Wood recently initiated plans for a “revolutionary” culture change for academics at USM.
In a message to department heads, Wood outlined plans to cut $75,000 from the University’s overload and part-time faculty budgets, asking faculty to re-evaluate the ways in which resources are being used.
The plan will result in fewer part-time professors and a reduction of the number of classes offered next fall. Wood said the plan comes in an effort to meet permanent shortfalls in the University’s budget.
“It’s true, I am starting to start a revolution,” said Wood. “But these are the preliminary shots.”
Wood’s plan includes asking full-time faculty to teach more CORE courses in-load (as opposed to overload, where they would get paid a stipend per course taught) and to place more of an emphasis on “cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, integrated studies, and team-taught courses at USM.”
“I want to move us in the direction towards utilizing full-time faculty more effectively. . But we’re not looking to do away with all part-timers.”
Dennis Gilbert, a part-time English professor at the University, is concerned with the welfare of part-time professors once these changes take place.
He said he worries that part-time faculty who depend on teaching certain courses for income will find these classes taken away from them and given to full-time faculty on short notice.
“Changes like this will make the uncertainty involved in being a part-time professor that much more aggravating,” Gilbert said.
The shift in emphasis signals a significant change for the University, where CORE courses have often been taught by part-time and overload professors, leaving full time faculty time to teach upper-level courses.
Wood said the University’s commitment to offering a quality education has not changed, and he feels the upcoming changes will ultimately affect students in a positive way.
Still, he does concede there may be fewer course sections offered in the fall.
“We will be looking into ways to make sure that students will not be disadvantaged in their education,” said Wood.
Lucinda Cole, chair of the English department, said these changes will likely have the largest effect on the department’s ability to offer upper-level courses and to keep class size down.
“We have scheduled the same number of lower division courses we usually do for a fall semester, though we do seem to be offering fewer upper division courses,” Cole said. “We’ve never been pressured to cut courses students really need. We have, however, sometimes been pressured to increase class enrollment.”
The Provost said that he greatly values input from students and faculty on these changes and would welcome the opportunity to meet with student groups to discuss the issue further.
Contributing Writer Maria D’Andrea can be contacted at: [email protected]