Top administrators have released the 2007 summer budgets of the various colleges and schools on campus, after much outcry from students and faculty.
In response to the delayed budget, in a March 20 meeting the Faculty Senate voted unanimously to ask the president and provost to immediately offer the same number of courses as last summer and let student demand dictate class cancellations.
The request was sent from Faculty Senate President Mary Diallo via e-mail to Provost Debra Austin.
Herbert Bailey, director of the University budget office, sent an e-mail to Austin on March 21 informing her that he spoke with Ann Gordon, vice president of academic affairs, the day before and informed her that Academic Affairs would be provided with $2 million for summer school.
In an e-mail sent to Student Body President Phillip Agnew and Diallo on Mar. 22, Austin told them the University would have $2 million available for the summer term.
“These monies will be equitably distributed among the colleges and schools so that they can determine how to meet student needs within the constraints of the budget,” Austin wrote. She estimated that 5,500 students are expected to register for the summer classes.
In comparison to summer 2006, the College of Arts and Sciences was offering a low number of courses for the summer 2007 term.
The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Army ROTC, biology, chemistry, computer information systems, economics, English, history, political science, African-American studies, foreign languages, mathematics, music, physics, psychology, social work, sociology, criminology, visual arts, humanities and theater departments.
With such a large number of students falling under at least one of the 15 departments within the college and a significant amount preparing for summer courses, the delay in receiving the budget has affected many students, especially those within the English department.
Herron Gaston, 19, a junior political science student from Haines City, said he was not able to register for classes because of a lack of upper lever courses.
“I went to the dean’s office on Thursday and they said they would be adding classes on Friday,” Gaston said. “I checked the classes and there are no classes for upper level division.”Gaston continued.
“There’s nothing for the students who have been here and are committed, and now I could be forced to attend another University that doesn’t understand our culture,” Gaston said. “If this is a continuation of problems then I may just need to go to FSU.”
Charles Shorette II, 22, a senior English education student from Santa Barbara, Calif., said Tuesday when classes were posted, he received a text message saying the classes he and his peers needed weren’t there.
On March 20, Ralph Turner, dean of arts and sciences, said the department submitted about 100 courses to the registrar, on the basis of utilizing 12-month employees.
Despite the fact that Turner said they want to maintain a wide number of courses from every discipline available, research conducted by the provost the College of Arts and Sciences shows that general education courses have the greatest demand.
Therefore emphasis is placed on those courses. But many students need classes that are not currently being offered for the summer.
“People were saying that between the dean and the provost the budget wasn’t provided so there was nothing they could do,” Shorette said. “The dean was saying it was up to the provost; Diane Spencer in the provost’s office said the budget is provided by the Board of Trustees, but when we requested numbers for them, she said she didn’t know any.”
Shorette’s situation, like many of his peers, is critical because all education students have to complete a semester of student teaching.
They are not allowed to take classes at the same time. If Shorette, who was planning to graduate in the fall, is unable to take the classes he needs during the summer, then his student teaching clinical will be pushed to the spring.
“If this happens, it’s going to affect the school I applied to student teach at,” Shorette said.
In addition to making him look bad, Shorette said this would extend his time at FAMU and could make FAMU seem unreliable to schools where students request to be student teachers. This could also affect how future student teachers are placed in their field clinicals.
Tameka Reese, 30, a senior English student from Vero Beach, said the lack of class offerings could affect her financial aid.
“You have to be registered for at least six credit hours to receive financial aid, and I’m left with deciding whether or not I should register for two random classes and swap them later just to get financial aid,” Reese said. “It’s awful, and I’m frustrated because I know if I wait any longer there won’t be anymore aid left.”
Similarly, Rondrea Mathis, 24, a junior English education student from Miami, said after she noticed the classes she needed weren’t available she went to the Registrar’s Office. Two people she spoke with suggested she speak with the University provost. Mathis described her experience at the provost’s office.
“I stopped by the secretary’s desk, and she said the provost is not speaking to any students, and she would be in meetings all day long,” Mathis said. “I was stopped dead in my tracks.”Another suggestion Mathis said she received from the Registrar’s Office and from faculty in her department was to co-op with another school.
Mathis found flaws in the suggestion.
“The problem with that is FSU has been registering students since the 12th,” Mathis said. “By now either all the classes are filled up or not offered.”
“They say just wait, give us time, but we need a resolution,” Mathis continued.
The need for the budget not only affects some students, but faculty, too.
“Faculty under 12-month contracts work from August 7, 2006-Aug 6, 2007, so they are committed to working during the summer and are already part of the budget,” Turner said. “However those who have 9-month contracts have not been committed yet.”
Turner said there are about 20 to 25 12-month professors on hand to teach this summer and a pool of nearly 250 adjunct and 9-month professors that can teach classes.
But with more than 100 courses being offered over the summer and most professors teaching a maximum of three courses, the budget was needed to determine how many adjunct and 9-month professors the college can afford to hire for the summer term.
Turner said the College of Arts and Sciences wanted to be cautious in trying to contact administrators in order to receive some reliable indications of the budget.
“We want to make sure the students are served, and are looking forward to receiving the resources needed to meet their needs,” he said. “We want to bring attention to higher administrators to see that all possible means are made to accommodate all students.”