Posted by Alex Brehm
The faculty and administration met on Friday, Sept. 10, to convene the first faculty meeting for the 2010-2011 academic year.
The agenda included a proposed approval of a new Faculty Handbook. The Faculty Handbook is updated regularly to describe college policies regarding the duties of professors and other faculty members.
The new edition proposes to make more accommodations for faculty members seeking tenure. Faculty may now be granted yearlong extensions in cases of illness, injury or maternity leave.
The agenda also included "Pedagogy Sessions," educational improvement seminars that would teach faculty about new practices in education and improve their teaching skills.
Proposed sessions include "Teaching in the Tang Galleries," a demonstration of using the space and resources of the Tang to teach classes, "Providing Rich Classroom Experiences via Videoconferencing," a session featuring guest speakers in classes electronically and "Active Learning in Larger Classes," an introduction to techniques that help engage a particularly large classroom.
President Philip Glotzbach began the meeting with a statement of thanks to the members of the faculty and staff who worked during the orientation events. Citing the enrollment of the largest class ever at Skidmore, he emphasized much gratitude.
Music Professor Gordon Thompson commented on the strain the excessively large freshman class places on professors.
The senior class is the college's second-largest class and these large "bookends" tax the abilities of all college personnel, especially Residential Life, Admissions, Facilities and professors who teach increasingly full classrooms.
"Will we send those students a post card saying, ‘Sorry, you can't come?'" Glotzbach asked. He said that the increased enrollment could not have been predicted and that once students have enrolled college staff members cannot reject them.
Others professors said that despite the difficulty of teaching and planning for a historically large student body, the situation stands as a challenge to be met, and as a chance for achievement.