Faced with faculty loss, departments on campus devised numerous solutions to accommodate the increased number of students this semester.
According to Jim Barrett, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment Management, 1,791 new students have enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point this semester, creating a 158-student increase from first semester last year.
This increase, coupled with an abnormally high loss in faculty since the announcement of state budget cuts earlier this year, has forced departments to create new ways of helping students get the classes needed to stay on track for graduation, he said.
Timothy Halkowski, interim division head of the Division of Communication, said he has been working hard to ensure students’ needs are met. Former Professor Andrew Stoner left the position at the end of last year, leaving his regular classes in need of an instructor.
“For this semester, we have hired temporary professors and faculty to cover some of the courses that Dr. Stoner would have been teaching,” Halkowski said.
The division is offering additional sections of various classes, including Communication 101, which the university requires of all students, he said.
But this year’s changes have not come without cost.
Sara Gruenke, senior communication and art management major, noted her frustrations with getting into the classes she wanted.
“I know for a lot of the comm classes, they were filling up really quickly, and they weren’t going to be allowing certain students to get into those classes,” Gruenke said.
The College of Natural Resources is confronting similar problems after cutting five faculty positions as well as the Youth Programming and Camp Management Major and Minor and the Bio-fuels minor, said Dean Christine Thomas.
To address cuts, the college hired adjunct professors and allowed professors to expand class sizes, she said.
“When you help the person who’s in trouble, who needs to get into your class, you are basically on some level diminishing the amount of attention that each of the people who are already there are going to get,” Thomas said.
Students should not worry too much about the changes, said SGA Budget Director Adam Swanson. Although there are more courses that could slow a student’s path to graduation, the majority of students will remain unaffected, he said.
In fact, the changes may lead to an increased graduation rate overall. Barrett said the anticipated graduation rate for summer 2016 has become 5 percent higher than the previous year.
“We always have tried to keep the students at the center of what we do,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”