Class sizes to increase for fall semester

Enrollment is on the rise and faculty is on the decline, which means students may notice a slight bump in class sizes when they return in the fall.

Class sizes are set to increase by approximately 10 percent this fall, said Sue Houston, vice provost for undergraduate education.

The decision came after the administration announced plans in January to cut 100 faculty members while also increasing total student enrollment from 19,000 to 25,000.

“There’s no intention to do a huge, dramatic increase,” Houston said. “It has a huge impact in how efficient we are.”

The University currently has a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio, according to the University website.

But with the proposed changes, those figures could rise to 27:1, the BGSU Faculty Association estimates.

“I see an inconsistency in touting to potential students that we have smaller class sizes while planning to raise them,” said David Jackson, president of the Faculty Association and associate professor in the Political Science Department.

For Jackson, the classroom experience is the most important aspect of college for students.

“There are dozens and dozens of ways in which smaller class sizes creates a better learning environment for students,” he said.

Because of the University’s historically small class sizes, Jackson was able to better connect with his students. Some have even co-authored academic journals with him.

“You make it all bigger classes, you lose that contact,” he said.

Houston, however, said students will not notice a significant shift in their classes.

“That interaction between the faculty and students is an important cornerstone,” Houston said. “There’s no desire to shift the ratio in a large way.”

The decision of which classes to increase will be up to the different colleges and departments at the University, Houston said. The college deans and department chairs are in the best position to determine which classes have a need or possibility to increase, she said.

Rodney Rogers, senior vice president of academic affairs and University provost, presented the changes to the Undergraduate Student Government during a general meeting in March.

After examining benchmark institutions like Miami University, Kent State University and Ohio University, findings showed that the University had the lowest student-to-faculty ratio, Rogers told USG.

“It concerns me when we start talking about increases in class sizes,” said USG President Alex Solis. “Knowing that increases are coming, I want to keep them very minimal.”

Houston would not say for certain if class sizes will continue to rise in fall 2014, but that “there’s always adjustments.”

Jackson expressed concern about the future plans, especially while the University aims to renovate lecture halls.

“Anderson Arena could become a classroom,” he said, laughing. “We don’t have that many massive lecture halls and that’s a great thing about BGSU.”