CAS in change

After recognized shortages, CAS is in the process of making a comeback

By on April 23, 2019

Come next semester, some professors in the College in the Arts and Sciences (CAS) will find their offices in a new location.

Executive Vice President Mark Thompson announced to the faculty senate this week that the university will be constructing temporary office space for faculty members in CAS.

The temporary offices will most likely be stationed in the Pine Grove, according to faculty senate member Margarita Diaz, who was present during Thompson’s announcement.

Sarah Bugbee
Associate Dean of CAS Wesley Renfro, who was also at the meeting, seemed less certain about the location. He said the spaces could be located in the Pine Grove or behind CAS 3.

“I actually don’t know quite where they are going to go, but we will be housing folks in temporary offices probably for next year and the year after, maybe longer,” Renfro said. “The details are not really forthcoming, at least on my level.”

Renfro said at the meeting Thompson discussed various proposals regarding what these temporary structures will look like, but the details haven’t been ironed out yet.

“We have been told that they are going to be high quality and that they are going to be attractive,” Renfro said. “I don’t think folks want things that don’t look aesthetically pleasing. The details on the location and how folks decide to go there– I don’t have any idea.”

Rebecca Bamford, associate professor of philosophy, said the addition of these offices could cut down on the number of CAS faculty sharing offices.

“Faculty have single offices at other Quinnipiac schools,” Bamford said in an email. “Only CAS seems to have to put our faculty in double and triple offices.”

Bamford said that the new offices will be helpful for advising meetings with students, but a faculty uses his or her office space for much more than that.

“The temporary faculty office space is not only for advising,” Bamford stated. “In addition to student advising, CAS faculty conduct a great deal of other work in their offices, including preparing classes, grading, meeting with students about their class work, holding some meetings with individual colleagues, some aspects of faculty service, and some aspects of faculty scholarship.”

The announcement comes after the hiring of 15 full-time faculty members in CAS, most of which are entirely new positions, to meet the demands of the growing student body.

“CAS did get permission to hire a number of full-time faculty that will start in 2019, but again we are waiting to hear the final version of the strategic plan,” Renfro said. “They are distributed. Some are in biology, we have some in art, we have some in psychology, we have some history. We have some folks who will work in first-year writing.”

Renfro said the addition of the temporary offices will help to alleviate crowding when the new faculty start.

“CAS is really short on office space and any way that we can add capacity is really good,” Renfro said. “It takes a while to grow permanent capacity so if the university is going to do high-quality, temporary offices, that’s great.”

Renfro said that hiring new faculty opens doors beyond those leading to their new offices. It creates more opportunities for students.

“It will give us the ability to expand course offerings,” Renfro said. “We will be able to offer new types of courses, we will be able to enroll more students in courses that already exist that are very popular that in the past students have had a hard time getting in to. From our perspective, this is great.”

This large pool of new hires is the maximum number CAS can handle at a time according to Renfro.

“It’s a lot for a single year,” Renfro said. “Adding that number of faculty at one time, that’s probably about as many as we can actually handle in one year so it’s really encouraging that the institution is giving us these positions. I think everybody is happy. The administrators like me are happy, I know that the faculty are happy and that the students are happy. There is no downside to any of this.”

Another change coming to CAS next fall is the addition of a CAS advising commons which will be located in CAS 1 near the office of Dean Robert Smart.

The space, which is currently a classroom, will be renovated over the summer to create a one-stop-shop for CAS career advising.

“That’s going to be a space students can use for advising and also for career things,” Renfro said. “That would include speaking with professional staff about what jobs might suit their interests and their skills. It might be a place where folks can do some preliminary interviewing, connect with folks who have opportunities in terms of jobs down the line.”

Information about the new advising center, including a computer-rendering of the facility, can be found at cas360.qu.edu.

Jeremy Gustafson, newly elected Student Government Association liberal arts senator said these announcements are encouraging signs that the problems facing CAS are being addressed.

“The recent announcements of additional full-time faculty, temporary faculty office space, and an advising center is very exciting and promising for the future of the College of Arts and Sciences,” Gustafson said. “Hopefully, this is just step one in improving the overall experience for students in CAS.”

Renfro agrees that CAS has room to grow, but affirms that these changes signal a positive future for the school.

“There’s still room for further improvement,” Renfro said. “But this is a really a great step in the right direction and it affirms the university’s commitment to a healthy CAS.”

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