President wants to limit full-time adjuncts to 10-12 a year.
By Faith Duarte
As a result of decreases in state funding and contact hours, the college must accommodate a $2.4 million budget cut for the fall and cut back on full-time adjuncts, President Robert Zeigler said during a College Council meeting Tuesday in Room 120 of visual arts.
Zeigler said that although the head count remained steady from fall to spring, contact hours have decreased this semester.
“There are more opportunities available for students to work, so students are working more and going to school less,” he said.
Zeigler said the growth of the Eagle Ford Shale is a possible factor for losing contact hours because “it gives people an opportunity to work and make a lot of money.”
About 60 full-time adjuncts work at the college, Zeigler said.
“In order for us to make the budget, we have got to significantly reduce full-time adjuncts, period,” he said.
“We ought to get that down to five a semester. I mean, we really shouldn’t go more than 10 or 12 full-time adjuncts a year.”
Zeigler suggested scheduling afternoon, night and weekend classes to accommodate more part-time adjuncts.
He said that although he understands students prefer earlier classes, “I think if we try, we can test it and see if we can make those classes.”
“Every part-timer that you see on this college campus, for next fiscal year, (if) we don’t address this, all those temps, everybody will be impacted, which is something we cannot do,” Dr. Robert Vela, vice president of academics and student engagement, said.
“We cannot survive without temps.”
Vela mentioned the possibility of creating degree and certificate programs geared toward night and weekend classes to encourage students to attend class during those times.
“We’re hoping that we can work with students through advising to say, ‘Well what about an evening or what about this hybrid (class),’” Vela said.
He said afternoon, night and weekend classes would need to replace some morning classes, which would also attract part-time adjuncts to teach at the college.
Vela said department chairs should offer more afternoon, night and weekend classes.
“We don’t know what that magic number is, but we know we can’t continue to say we’ll just load the schedule like we did last year,” Vela said.
“We’re not going to make it that way.”
Zeigler also encouraged council members to contact professors and teachers who may be interested in teaching as an adjunct for the college.
The college advertised a part-time adjunct job fair set for Saturday in Oppenheimer.
As of Tuesday, about 102 applicants signed up to attend the adjunct fair.
Dr. Conrad Krueger, dean of arts and sciences, said though the current average class size is 23 students, three more students would need to be added to each section to fix the deficit, he said.
Vernell Walker, dean of technical and professional education, suggested smaller sections switch classrooms to accommodate for larger sections.
Krueger encouraged chairs to increase the number of Internet sections available in each department.
“Are you still only offering 26 max? Most departments are now up to 32 or 33,” he said.
Lauri Metcalf, American Sign Language and interpreter training chair, said eliminating both full-time adjuncts in her department would result in cutting 12 class sections.
Zeigler said, “There may be some areas where there need to be some exceptions … but exceptions really have to be exceptional exceptions.”
Psychology Chair Thomas Billimek said cutting down on full-time adjuncts means full-time faculty won’t have enough time for other duties, including advising and committee work.
He said his department has three full-time faculty and three full-time adjuncts.
Zeigler said the simple answer is to hire six part-time adjuncts to replace the three full-time adjuncts in his department.
Billimek asked, “How will we handle advising and all of those other little things that are being thrown on us?”
“I can tell you that the more students you have in a class, there are a number of faculty who are reducing their academic standards,” he said.
“Continuing the (current) pattern … is not an option unless we want to see the institution continuously sink, and I don’t think anyone here wants to do that,” Zeigler said.
“We’ve got to find some solutions.”