Faculty get flexibility in office hour schedules
Political science chair makes a case for faculty being in offices to meet student needs.
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 15:09
Full-time faculty may schedule some of their 10 office hours a week online or at nontraditional times, according to a vote by College Council Sept. 11.
Faculty must have a minimum of 10 documented office hours per week on campus in compliance with district policy unless “special circumstances” are approved by department chairs and deans, according to a revision in a college procedure.
Those special circumstances must be “warranted, documented and recommended in writing,” the procedure reads, and all office hours cannot be off-campus.
Faculty members must post their approved office hours outside their office by the first week of class and submit a copy to departmental offices.
The office hour clarification is part of Procedure I.1: Teaching in Different Modalities, which was approved by the council May 8 with the exception of references to office hours.
The issue came up because the Teaching with Technology Committee proposed a revision to that would allow faculty to maintain half of their office hours online.
At the meeting Sept. 11, President Robert Zeigler said the office hours needed to be flexible for those who teach online, but under specific circumstances a professor can hold off-campus office hours.
Fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt said office hours needed to accommodate not only departmental student success initiatives but college student success initiatives as well.
Psychology Chair Thomas Billimek said he agrees with the idea of faculty needing some on-campus office hours because the 10 hour-rule disfavors online instructors who get email 24/7 from students.
“What are the special circumstances other than we’re serving our students, whether they’re classroom or online?” Billimek said.
Dr. Paul Wilson, social sciences and humanities chair, said he does not believe those 10 hours are for assigned students only.
“I need people there for those students that show up throughout the day,” he said.
Wilson said he does not think online instructors should be available 24/7; rather, the instructor should inform their students when they will be available.
Mathematics Chair Said Fariabi said there is confusion in the policy between how many hours are required for advising and how many hours are needed to dedicate to their assigned students.
Full-time faculty are required to have 15 hours a week in a class, 15 hours for service and 10 hours in their office.
Dr. Conrad Krueger, dean of arts and sciences, said professors can advise students other than those in their classes during the 10 hours because there is not a constant flow of assigned students needing help.
Susan Espinoza, director of college and grants developments, suggested there should be an advising office hour policy to avoid confusion.
Dr. Robert Vela, vice president of student affairs and interim vice president of academic affairs, said it should be a general policy for departments to tailor to their specific needs.
Student life Director Jorge Posadas said although he does not like to comment on academic or faculty concerns, he also believes the policy should be general.
“The student life staff works 24 hours a day and so they’re available to students 24 hours a day,” Posadas said. He has been unwilling to provide a cell number to Ranger reporters.
He said faculty members who advise student organizations can reach him 24 hours a day because they have his cell number.
“I understand the need to identify and define, but I also think it’s a little bit silly because I don’t know a faculty member that’s not really dedicated to always being available to their students,” Posadas said.
Posadas was the lone abstention when the council voted to approve the measure.
Jerry Townsend, Adjunct Faculty Council chair and member of the Teaching with Technology Committee, said the new proposal is much more flexible than the first one.
He said chairs, faculty and students need flexibility, and this policy serves everybody.
English Professor Dawn Elmore-McCrary, chair of the Teaching with Technology Committee, said she likes the revision more than the proposed item.
She said she hopes to see the office hours go further in terms of mandating online office hours.
She said a lot of universities mandate faculty office hours to online students.
College Council will meet at 2 p.m. Oct. 9 in Room 120 of the visual arts center.