Disappointment. It happens every semester when students and professors find out that a class they had prepared for has been cancelled. Disappointment was particularly felt in the Media Arts department this semester, since a newly offered class didn’t make it to the official schedule.
“This was the first time the college offered a class that specialized in something that I really want to learn,” said Andre Hardin, 27, a mass communications major. He had enrolled in the Music Video Production class, MA 117, offered on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
The idea for a music video production class started in 2005. “Students were asked if they would be interested and every time I got an overwhelming positive response,” Michael Pitts, the professor offering the class said. But he was informed two weeks before the semester was to start that his class had been cancelled.
“I was very disappointed because I went through all the trouble to get the class through the curriculum committee… It’s not easy to get anything through the curriculum committee,” Pitts said.
According to Ron Harlan, Dean of Instructional Services, there are costs associated with teaching classes that are paid by the state for the number of students in each class; in order to remain solvent the college has determined that classes that do not reach 15 students must be cancelled. Hardin was the only student enrolled when the decision to cancel MA 117 was made.
“I was very surprised because I knew that the class would’ve passed if I had been given the chance…more than 30 students would’ve taken the class” Pitts said. “So when the class got cancelled I asked I could give a list of students that would commit to take the class…I was told I couldn’t do that. The class had been officially canceled.”
To him, the reason the class didn’t make it was a mistake in scheduling; in the printed catalog, the class was listed as another MA 101 class. A correction was made on the online catalog but it wasn’t enough to improve enrollment.
To Robert Kibler, chairperson overseeing scheduling in the visual and performing arts division, “The problem was really timing.”
“We try to cancel classes prior to the beginning of the semester to give students a chance to find other classes. We cancel some classes as much as two weeks prior to the start of the semester,” Harlan explained.
Scheduling is not a simple matter. According to Harlan, the division chair and the dean work together to arrive at a final decision. Adjustments have to be made for classes that didn’t make 15 in the past and often, he pointed out, new classes are added in the first week to meet student demands. “Recently we have set up a system of ‘enrollment management’ that has improved our ability to schedule effectively,” he said.
“One thing students interested in a class can do is to sign up for the class early,” said Michael Moreau, a journalism professor who has suffered class cancellations in the past.
There is good news for Andre Hardin and any other students interested in the Music Video Production class. It will be offered again in the fall semester on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 until 9 p.m.
For the more adventurous types, there is a student committee working on a study abroad summer class project, that would take MA 117 overseas.
For more information contact Michael Pitts at [email protected] or visit the Media Arts department in SG335.