According to a new report from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, faculty members continue to express concern that when the two new residential colleges open in fall 2017, there will not be enough professors to teach the increased number of undergraduates.
The report, which was discussed at a senate meeting Thursday, includes survey responses from more than 300 faculty members and addresses long-standing concerns that the size of the FAS ladder faculty will not grow to meet the 15 percent increase of Yale College students that will come by 2020. Many professors also expressed concern about the insufficiency of other teaching necessities, such as lecture space and qualified teaching fellows, and questioned the University’s current plans not to significantly expand these resources.
Set to be voted on at the senate’s next meeting on March 10, the report calls for greater communication between faculty and administrators.
“Perhaps the greatest overriding concern is the current tendency to view the college expansion primarily as a budgetary and logistical issue rather than as an opportunity to explore best pedagogical practices and to think seriously about what a Yale undergraduate education ought to be,” states the report, which was written by six senators. “We believe that a broader conversation is both productive and necessary.”
The report, whose authors met with the administrators preparing for the expansion, found that the University is planning to accommodate 800 new undergraduates without substantially changing the academic structures and resources currently in place. According to the report, current plans do not include hiring additional ladder faculty, and most existing classes will be expected to absorb additional students. Any faculty growth to address the expansion would come through targeted hiring of non-ladder faculty, especially in language and writing courses. For the fall 2017 semester, the FAS Dean’s Office plans to hire approximately 20 new non-ladder faculty. But the University does not plan to increase the number of classrooms or the size of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in response to the expansion of the undergraduate student body.
This limited expansion would likely result in a one- to two-student increase in a 10-person seminar and a 15-person increase in a 100-person lecture, figures that left faculty members surveyed worried about insufficient resources.
The May 2014 report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Yale College Expansion proposed several policies, such as offering courses twice in the same semester to manage classroom shortages, expanding instruction by non-ladder faculty and undergraduate learning assistants in FAS courses. However, according to the senate’s survey, all of these suggestions were met with generally negative responses. Almost 50 percent of respondents “strongly disagreed” that increasing non-ladder faculty instruction would enhance the environment of their department or program.
The size of the FAS ladder faculty was particularly at issue in the report. The FAS ladder faculty was set to grow to 700 members in preparation for the increase in the Yale College student body, and according to the 2014 report, it did. But at the start of last semester, Yale employed just 660 FAS ladder faculty, FAS Dean Tamar Gendler confirmed. This discrepancy is set to be corrected in the next few years.
“On top of the searches that we will be doing to replace faculty who retire or depart, we will be adding roughly 40 additional ladder faculty over the next five years,” Gendler told the News.
Still, some faculty expressed concern in the survey about the 700-ladder-faculty number itself. “The faculty needs to be expanded. The official line that the faculty at 700 has already been expanded to meet the needs of the new colleges is simply not borne out by the data [the Office of Institutional Research] provides,” one respondent wrote in the survey.
Besides these logistical concerns, the report also points to a deeper issue about the quality of the undergraduate experience.
“The expansion of Yale College should prompt and further a discussion of the ‘bigger picture’ here at our university. How do we as a faculty body achieve our core ideals while expanding our student population?” the report said.
History professor and senate chair Beverly Gage suggested that many of the faculty members’ issues with the administration’s current state of planning stem from the lack of communication. 77 percent of respondents feel they do not have enough information about the Yale College expansion. The Yale College Dean’s Office’s steering committee on the new colleges includes four faculty out of 16 members.
“Communication has not been particularly good, and the report is trying to foster a conversation and collaboration,” Gage said.
The survey to faculty, distributed in October 2015, had a response rate of 40 percent.