Hi, Am I in the Right Class?

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Part Time Professors Get Replaced Last Minute

Michael Nguyen, Staff Writer

Students will soon be registering for courses for the fall semester at Anoka-Ramsey. With websites like ratemyprofessor.com students have more control than ever in choosing which professors they believe give them the best chance for success. Many students look forward to taking new classes with their favorite professors. If that professor happens to be part-time, the student may be in for a surprise.

To help fill the course load for full-time faculty, deans from Anoka-Ramsey may reassign courses that were slated for part-time faculty. Part-time faculty may prepare for a class for months only to have the class taken away, sometimes only weeks, before the semester begins. This impacts them financially because their compensation is dependent on the course beginning. Losing credits can also cause a part-time faculty member to lose health benefits or pay more for the benefits they currently have.

According to contract arrangements with the Minnesota State College and Universities system, only full-time faculty are guaranteed a yearly salary regardless of how many credits they teach a semester.

The decision to switch out a part-time professor for a full-time professor comes down to money. Full-time faculty salaries are guaranteed; if a course gets canceled they still make the same salary. Courses get canceled when enrollment for a class is too low. The college wants to be sure that full-time faculty are used efficiently and teaching the maximum amounts of credits, which leads the college to assign part-time instructor’s classes to full-time faculty. When this happens, part-time faculty are often negatively affected.

Jim Biederman, Anoka-Ramsey’s faculty grievance representative stated, “It’s really about spending the money coming from the state and students in the most cost-efficient way.”

Part-time professors have said they are displeased from past experiences with losing a class. They talked about how much time they felt was spent on preparing for the course that went uncompensated. Many stated they wish to remain anonymous for fear of losing future employment opportunities.

“I can see why a faculty member would be frustrated and upset and not wanting to speak out. They understand that it’s probably not going to change anything,” said Biederman.

The relationships formed between students and professors have proven to be an important factor in the college experience. It is no surprise many students form relationships with professors and look to take courses from them in in the future.

“I believe the professor is a huge part in my success as a student,” said Anoka-Ramsey student Jared Ross.

Ross was in a situation where a professor was switched out right before the semester began. He had to adjust to the differences of having a new professor after expecting to have the same professor from the previous semester.

“The expectations of how things are done on problems change. Another would be not knowing the professor as well and having to gain a new relationship,” said Ross

“I literally found out the day of the class,” said Daniel Wallerius, an Anoka-Ramsey student, when speaking about finding out that his professor had been changed.

According to Biederman, about 30 percent of credits taught at this college are taught by part-time faculty. The main factor in making sure classes don’t get canceled is enrollment growth. Biederman states that the recent decline in enrollment is why we have seen classes being canceled and taken away from part-time faculty happen more frequently.

“It is painful; it’s disruptive to all the faculty; it’s disruptive to the students who sign up for a class from a specific faculty member and it gets switched to somebody else at the last minute,” said Biederman.