Victory
Petitioning Faculty Position Advisory Committee (FPAC) Pomona College

Can't get CS Classes? Help CS petition for multiple Faculty Hires!

The students at the Claremont Colleges are petitioning for FPAC to approve the search for multiple faculty hires for the 2017-2018 school year.

https://www.pomona.edu/academics/departments/computer-science/faculty-staff

In spring 2012 we graduated 6 majors. In spring 2018, we will graduate 60. In 2011-2012 we had 4 tenure-track CS faculty, this year we have 6.5 tenure-track faculty (though 1.5 are on leave) as well as 2.25 visitors. 

https://www.pomona.edu/administration/office-registrar/reports-and-statistics/majors-and-minors

For Spring 2018, a total of 148 seats in all our upper division courses are in the pool for pre-placement. 149 students filled out the pre-pre-enrollment survey hoping to be placed: among then, some are seniors who need 1-3 courses to graduate; some are juniors who need 1-3 courses to fulfill the pre-req to enroll in senior seminar (190) in fall 2018.

https://www.pomona.edu/administration/registrar/reports-statistics/course-enrollments

The average class size at Pomona is 15, yet we have been teaching introductory level courses with enrollments typically in the upper 30s, 40s, and even low 50s.

We started the pre-pre-enrollment process about two years ago, when the significant enrollment pressure put many majors in danger of not graduating because students with earlier registration slots had grabbed all of the available slots.  (Those students are not to be blamed as it is natural to register for all the courses you want during pre-registration.) It is worth mentioning that Harvey Mudd started this system earlier than we did, so we are not alone in doing this.

 Why are we in this situation?  Computer Science enrollments nationwide have skyrocketed over the last few years.  A new National Academy Report on this issue: “Assessing and Responding to the Growth of Computer Science Undergraduate Enrollments” is available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24926/assessing-and-responding-to-the-growth-of-computer-science-undergraduate-enrollments

The situation at Pomona is even more dire in that our enrollments have increased faster than most.  In spring 2012 we graduated 6 majors.  In spring 2018, we will graduate 60.  In 2011-2012 we had 4 tenure-track CS faculty, this year we have 6.5 tenure-track faculty (though 1.5 are on leave) as well as 2.25 visitors.  We are trying our best to offer courses to fulfill the course requirements of our majors. Spring 18 is the first time we will offer all four core courses (81, 105, 131, 140) in a single semester.

For Spring 2018, a total of 148 seats in all our upper division courses are in the pool for pre-placement.  149 students filled out the pre-pre-enrollment survey hoping to be placed: among then, some are seniors who need 1-3 courses to graduate; some are juniors who need 1-3 courses to fulfill the pre-req to enroll in senior seminar (190) in fall 2018. The result is that to secure the graduation of our majors, not all students are placed into courses, including many seniors who have satisfies their major requirements and some sophomores.

 We are all blessed with having all of your interest in CS and wanting to take CS classes. However, the increase in enrollments has not been matched by the increase in faculty or resources, such as space or funding, of the department.  

 To accommodate our increased enrollment, we have been increasing class sizes.  The average class size at Pomona is 15, yet we have been teaching introductory level courses with enrollments typically in the upper 30s, 40s, and even low 50s.  Meanwhile our upper division courses have enrollments well above the college average.  These large classes put a lot of strain on the faculty, student mentors and students.  We can’t increase class sizes any further without significantly jeopardizing quality. 

The department has been trying our best to maximize the number of seats in courses, while maintaining the quality of student experience. Our faculty and student mentors and student liaisons have been working very hard to help students in classes and forming a community. We have been requesting more faculty slots ever since 2007.  We have been very lucky to hire some wonderful new faculty members in the last few years. Unfortunately, the growth, especially in the face of a couple of pending retirement, does not match the pace of the growth of students’ interests in CS. We are again searching to hire new faculty this year and we have again submitted a request to the College to ask for a new position.

 Thanks for reading this long email. We are thrilled that so many of you are interested in CS, but disappointed that we do not have the resources to give you the high quality experience you want and need. We deeply appreciate your patience with us.   We hope that with this information you will have some understanding of the situation we are facing and have some understanding as to why you are not getting all the classes you want. 

 

This petition was delivered to:
  • Faculty Position Advisory Committee (FPAC)
    Pomona College


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