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Union suggests campus changes

April 27, 2012

The UW-River Falls Faculty Union wants to improve the campus climate in regards to budget cuts, lowered morale, hired staff and faculty along with an increase in class size.

The union has issued a proposal to the administration that focuses on improving the results of budget cuts and morale.

According to a press release, Kurt Leichtle, president of the union, said that the proposal covers issues like lowering of faculty salaries and positions unfilled as a result of professors retiring or leaving the University.

If there are no faculty hired for lost positions or willing to teach at the University because of the issues surrounding budget cuts, a direct affect on students will be seen.

“Our department has been forced to go every other year with some classes because of no resources available,” Kerry Keen, professor of environmental science and geology said. “This leads to not a very good educational experience because of limited resources.”

There could be classes cut or classes will have an increase of students, which will limit the amount of classes available and ultimately not allow students to graduate on time.

“When you do that in programs, it is more difficult for students to finish in four years,” Keen said. This has been the new trend that programs and departments throughout campus have been adopting to work around budget cuts and retired faculty.

At the beginning of this spring semester, Joseph Harbouk, the then vice chancellor of administration and finance, said that the University has vacancies in departments that the University does not want to fill which will affect the services students receive.

In a department like English, this is not favorable. Soon to be retired English Department Chair Laura Zlogar said that teachers are stretched enough as it is, with no extra room.

The Modern Language Association and the ADE states that teachers should only be are teachers teaching four composition courses per term that have 25 or more students.

“We try to work around that and hire new people,” Keen said. “We are down three people so there is a hodge-podge of hiring and covering classes.”

In the College of Business and Economics, Professor and Director of the Center for Economic Education Brian Schultz, has been at UWRF for 33 years and has seen a fluctuation of class size, which trends now and again.

The average class size of an economics class is around 50 students, Schultz said. There are some sections of economics that are taught by adjunct teachers who are part-time.

“Teaching methods and technology changes,” Schultz said. “It is harder to read the overall sense of how well students respond in lectures in larger classes.”

One-on-one time with students and extra help is difficult for a professor to achieve in with a large class, Schultz said.

There is the idea of office hours where students can come visit and talk about problems with an assignment or points brought up in class.

“There are office times so I can go talk to them if I need to,” Melissa Van Grinsven, an English major said.

Other than class size, there are issues pertaining to salary and benefits for faculty and staff in the proposal presented to the administration. The union will meet with the administration and talk to them about the proposal and await their approval on it.

Chancellor Dean Van Galen said that the union is scheduling a meeting with the office of administration for next week.

“Above all, I will continue to respect our shared governance groups and process,” said Van Galen in an email. teaching three composition courses per term with 15 or less students. In the English department this year, there