The Colgate Scene
March 2001
Table of contents
Planning Committee Report

Planning Committee Report Contents:
  1. Innovation
  2. Smaller classes
  3. Aid
  4. Environment
  5. Financing the goals of planning
II. Smaller classes

Almost a year ago, the interim planning report identified the addition of new faculty positions as a means to several highly desirable ends. The report pointed out that with new positions, Colgate could reduce average class sizes, allowing for closer attention to the "special skills students need as practical tools, such as writing, oral communication and analytical techniques." New positions were also seen as allowing for "changes in pedagogical strategy." In sum, spreading the task of teaching some 2,700 students over more faculty was seen as making additional time available for labor-intensive attention to individual students and for the design and implementation of new ways of teaching. It should be stressed that the committee is not proposing the addition of faculty in order to change the way individual faculty members divide their time between teaching and research. Indeed, the committee recognizes the benefits of being the kind of educational institution where teaching is genuinely invigorated by the interests of a professionally ambitious faculty, one that brings its reputation for excellent scholarly work back to the college. Colgate's recent distinction as an exceptionally well-wired campus owes much to its faculty's interest in applying new technological developments in their own fields of research to teaching in classrooms and laboratories. In addition, the prestige that comes with scholarly achievement by our faculty enhances Colgate's reputation as a center of academic excellence.

Accordingly, to make possible a reallocation of the time that faculty devote to teaching, in favor of teaching that is more attentive to individual students and innovative, the committee recommends that Colgate increase the size of the faculty from the 2000-01 staffing level by at least 19 new positions over the next five years, which is approximately eight percent, and that these increases be made with a view to providing faculty with smaller classes in support of the above goals. The addition of these new faculty would move the student-faculty ratio from 11:1 to 10:1.

The committee recommends that this increase in the size of the faculty be achieved without compromising Colgate's existing commitments to keep average faculty compensation in the various ranks at or above corresponding averages at comparable institutions, and to attract a faculty that is broadly representative of society. Colgate also should press towards a sabbatical leave policy more nearly aligned with those at comparable institutions. An environment conducive to research and scholarship must be maintained, not least for the sake of attracting the best minds to teach at Colgate and because of the positive impact of a professionally active faculty on the quality of the educational experience.

In allocating the new positions, the administration should be mindful of the objectives to be achieved. The task of helping students connect their learning is surely one that must be shared among faculty, rather than delegated to a few; and all faculty should be encouraged and enabled to take advantage of the technological resources that can further this goal. Likewise the task of teaching students to communicate effectively has long been regarded at Colgate as a faculty-wide task. These considerations argue that one main principle for assigning new positions should be achieving a lower student-faculty ratio across the range of courses and programs.

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