Dozens of Connecticut State University professors descended on the Capitol today to talk to legislators about increasing the number of full-time faculty at the state’s four campuses. Julian Madison, a history professor at Southern Connecticut State University, said he didn’t drive to Hartford today to complain about his job. He said he came to advocate for the students, who are the losers in the current situation.
“Everyone says they support higher education,” he said. “It’s easy to pay lip service, but let’s see what actually happens to this bill that’s good for the students and good for the state.“The real life situation created by the full-time faculty shortage means it’s difficult for students to get into the classes they need to graduate, Madison said. And financial pressure often forces them to drop out. Full-time university professors say the number of full-time faculty has not kept pace with enrollment and increased demand for part-time professors. “Since Fall 2000, CSU’s full-time enrollment has increased by over 3,100 students. To kind of put that into a visual, that’s the size of a Wesleyan University,” Pam Kedderis, CSU’s chief financial officer told the legislature’s Higher Education Committee earlier this month. According to the American Association of University Professors, the student-to-faculty ratio is currently 24 to 1 – compared to 20 to 1 in 2000. Madison said he teaches four classes a semester, each with 40 students. In comparison, Peter Nicholls, provost and academic vice president at the University of Connecticut, told the legislature’s higher education committee earlier this month that UConn’s faculty-to-student ratio had grown from 14.2 to 1 to a little under 18 to 1.CSU’s plan would provide for the addition of 345 full-time faculty, phased in over five years, with 63 full-time faculty being added in the first year. This would enable the four universities to make progress in retention, graduation, and workforce development. Aram Ayalon, a professor in the school of education at Central Connecticut State University, said today that in order to fill the void of full-time professors the university has hired part-time professors to accommodate student enrollment increases. This becomes an obstacle for students, since part-time professors generally have fewer office hours because they must supplement their incomes elsewhere, he said. At CCSU, there are 463 part-time faculty and 456 full-time faculty. At SCSU, there are 603 part-time professors and 439 full-time professors.Of the students, Ayalon said more than 90 percent of CSU graduates remain in Connecticut after they graduate. He said about 60 percent of the teaching staff at New Britain High School graduated from one of the four CSU schools. Senate bill 354 would increase the number of full-time faculty to 63 in the first year and cost the state $5 million in fiscal year 2007-08.