Penn State Plans to Offer Fewer M/W Classes

University spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz confirmed this morning that Penn State is shifting away from Monday/Wednesday classes.

The official explanation? Returning to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday standard will produce a more even distribution of class hours over the week. Mountz said the change originated in Penn State’s Priorities for Excellence strategic plan, and that the University hopes to to reduce costs and increase efficiency by optimizing its facilities utilization.

Too many courses were being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm and courses that should be three 1-hour meetings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were instead being scheduled as two 1.5-hour meetings on Monday and Wednesday, according to Provost Rod Erickson.

“We’re working on better utilization of our instruction and research facilities,” said Erickson told a group of faculty back in May according to written remarks supplied by the University. Erickson told them that improving the university’s scheduling system would take cooperation “in terms of times of the day that people teach.”

Erickson said faculty who hold classes only Monday/Wednesday, ” have really disrupted the whole utilization of the facilities, plus (they have) taken students out of the opportunity to have that extra half-period that they’d be able to take some other class. So we need to work very hard on increasing our utilization rate.”

The idea to hold more Friday classes has been brought up in the past, just not for this reason (even though it definitely makes sense). According to Mountz, Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims has challenged faculty to have balanced academic weeks for their students as part of an effort to address excessive student alcohol consumption. Holding Friday classes is a easy way to discourage binge drinking on Thursday nights at least. However, Mountz said that the facilities issue, not alcohol, was the motivating factor in the policy change.

I think it’ll be hard to argue this is a bad idea… any takers?

Update 11:46 am: Vice President Damon Sims told the Collegian that he is happy for any action that “limits the weekend to a two-day affair.”

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