Ten-student classrooms may soon be a thing of the past as Miami University plans to cut 200 classes with an enrollment of less than 20 students.
Miami’s board of trustees met Friday and discussed the possibility of cutting or consolidating underenrolled classes to cope with the university’s budget crisis.
Christopher Makaroff is a chemistry professor at Miami and former co-chair of the Strategic Priorities Task Force (SPT), the group charged with making recommendations for Miami’s budget cuts.
Makaroff said the university is looking to cut 200 of 5,500 classes with enrollment less than 20 students. He said the cuts will not be made at random, but after careful consideration.
“One of the things you want to keep in mind is that we are not just looking to eliminate all classes under 20,” he said. “The goal is to reduce the number of low-enrollment courses that have a history of not having many students and not a whole lot of student demand.”
Makaroff said the university also wants to modify or consolidate underenrolled courses so they become more popular. Rather than eliminating courses, Makaroff said he hopes to eliminate and reorganize certain sections.
“There are a lot of good reasons to have classes that are under 20, like labs and honors courses, but maybe we could just offer them on a less frequent basis,” he said.
Makaroff said the university will also look to cut majors that have a large amount of underenrolled classes. According to Makaroff, majors could be cut because enrollment in respective classes is low.
“I think the thought there is to look at majors that have a lot of required courses where there is not a lot of demand for those courses,” Makaroff said. “So, if a major has 10 required courses and those courses only have five students, is there a demand to offer those courses? Or better yet, is there a way to restructure the major?”
John Skillings, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, is on Miami’s board of trustees, which voted to approve the SPT’s cuts in December 2010.
Skillings said while no cuts will be made this academic year, the process will take place over the next few years.
“We don’t have any particular classes in mind at this stage,” Skillings said. “The priority will be to look at classes that are underenrolled … (or) classes that are smaller than they are planned to be.”
Skillings said the university will consider offering fewer sections of a course in a given term or year, offering a class every other year on a regular announced schedule and co-listing courses to enable more students to take a class.
Skillings said Miami is not looking to drastically increase class sizes. He said small student-to-teacher ratios are important to the university.
Skillings said the cuts will still allow students to graduate on time.
“Having students graduate on time is a priority for the institution,” he said. “Whatever changes are made will be accomplished in such a way that students will continue to have available to them the classes that they need to graduate.”