Tuesday, January 03, 2006

From the Administrative Office: Semesters Collide

Classes begin next week; the University re-opens today from winter recess. I am covering the details of both semesters.

We've ordered a slimmer, trimmer, cheaper version of one of our standard texts. Now I need to make pdf versions of some of the now-omitted extras and distribute them to instructors. I may have to point them to The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives.

The complaints from students are picking up. Yesterday I was given the back story on one; the course instructor said that the student was so angry that people from nearby offices, worried about her, came and sat in on the meeting. Before scheduling my own meeting with the student, I may have to arrange witnesses. My department has a Russian guy who is about 7 feet tall; maybe he can sit in the corner and look menacing.

Meetings next week on Monday. So far no one has found an error in the schedule I emailed yesterday. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember the alias for one of the distribution lists, so I'll have to ask a staff member to help publicize my meeting. I'm hoping that the room for the meeting has been scheduled properly. I've sent two emails to the room scheduler, and I've stopped by her office once. I would be happier if room scheduling came with confirmation numbers.

Another parent has contacted me. This time the student is not in my section but rather in one that I supervise. No matter how often we refer to FERPA, parents tend to persist. Secret message to parents who want to complain about their child's grade in college: Find a copy of the Student Handbook, Undergraduate Catalog, or other publication with the administrative and academic rules and procedures. These are almost always available on the school's web page. Then look up the section about grade appeals, and direct your child to follow the procedure. Wait until the student has started the process before contacting anyone. If your kid is ready for college, then he can at least begin an appeal on his own.

I've been avoiding contacting one of the adjuncts. I'll need to arrange a special one-on-one meeting to reiterate the goals for one of the courses that he is teaching. Specifically, it is not a weed-out course, so an alarmingly high failure rate is not necessary. This adjunct also happily teaches a course that no one full-time enjoys teaching. I'd rather have an awkward meeting with the adjunct than teach the difficult class. I'd rather field complaints from his failing students than teach the difficult class. We need more people who are willing to teach the difficult class.

A student from the fall thought that he dropped his math class, but his grade report shows an F. An email arrived: is there anything that I can do about this. Lucky for me, this one is easy because it is not my problem. This is the registrar's problem.