The efficient use of classroom space is becoming an increasingly important issue, drawing the attention of the Board of Visitors and others. In mid-1995,
then-Vice President and Provost Peter W. Low and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Leonard W. Sandridge, Jr., wrote:
"Classroom usage is one of the most volatile issues affecting the University's relationship
with the state at this moment. More efficient use of existing space is a major political issue even with our friends in the community
at large and at various levels of state government. We serve our interests in many respects if we can responsibly come to grips with more appropriate
use of classroom space than has characterized our behavior in the past.
"We need to increase the utilization of classroom facilities and do a better
job of spreading classes across the teaching day. We need to improve the quality of our classroom space, not only to enhance the use of modern
technology in instruction but also to provide appropriate lighting, seating, configuration, temperature control, etc. We need to improve our response
time for ordinary repairs and provide prompt support and service for technological enhancements.
"Removing classrooms from our inventory, which we plan to do in a modest and orderly
fashion, will increase utilization and force more spreading to occur, but there are independent reasons why use of more of the teaching day
is desirable. Spreading classes can serve our students by reducing the number of desired classes that occur in the same time slots. This is,
of course, a complex issue. One can spread unpopulated classes across the day and accomplish little or nothing from the students' point of view.
And, spreading classes in order to unblock one set of conflicts inevitably will create other (and perhaps less desirable) conflicts in a university
with as many offerings as ours. But spreading classes through the day, if intelligently done, will produce a better schedule for the students
than will congestion into a more compressed portion of the day.
"In addition, increased utilization of our classrooms will allow us to capture
much-needed space for other uses. It is certain in the near term (and perhaps beyond) that funding for new buildings will not be as available
as in the past. Funding for renovation, we hope and expect, will be more available, and in any event can be a less expensive alternative than new
construction. Under-used classrooms provide a great source of space for additional offices, student work areas, research labs, and the like, and
we avoid the added operating costs of new buildings. It is to everyone's advantage to think seriously about how best to convert excess classroom
resources into other uses."
As a result of study of these issues, a number of proposals have been adopted by the senior administration of the University, and others are
under further discussion. As the office responsible for assigning and managing classroom space, the Office of the University Registrar is charged
with implementing and enforcing these standards.
The Associate Provost for Academic Support and Classroom Management has ultimate responsibility
for these areas. This office will be responsible for coordinating, monitoring, refining, and implementing our classroom policy. Advice about
technology standards will be provided by standing committees that work through ITC. It will be up to each dean to determine the extent to which
faculty involvement within each school is necessary or desirable.
The process of centralized scheduling began in the spring of 1996. The task has been approached incrementally and school-by-school
rather than by the wholesale adoption of a comprehensive schedule.
Conversion of Classroom Space to Other Uses
The Classroom Utilization Report prepared by outside consultants concluded that the University has too many classrooms and that much of our classroom
stock is the wrong size (e.g., too many 26-50 person classrooms and too few 1-25 person classrooms). The consultants recommended a reduction in
available classroom space of 22,000 square feet. As currently planned new dormitory space is completed, classrooms on central grounds will be
withdrawn from service that matches in size the classrooms being built into the new dormitories. Whenever renovations or additions create new classrooms,
others will be withdrawn so that planned downsizing of classroom stock will not be adversely effected.
Accurate Recording of Usage
Classroom space is often used for events other than organized credit-bearing classes. Each school has been trained on the Events Scheduling System
to accurately track and assign all usage of classroom space. We need to ensure that bookings done at the school or departmental level do not conflict
with the central scheduling done in the Office of the University Registrar.
- All classes will be scheduled centrally as far as possible into "right-sized" rooms; that is, rooms that are not too large for the projected enrollment.
Changes will be made based on enrollment history, preliminary enrollments, and actual enrollments so as to match class and room size.
- Schools and departments are requested to indicated technology needs for the classes.
- Deans are charged with the responsibility to assure that requested times for daytime courses are spread from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. Monday - Thursday and 8:00 A.M.
to 6:00 P.M Friday. Deans are also charged with the responsibility to address the issue of conflicts between classes in different subject areas with a view to maximizing the available student choices. Communications from the Office of the
University Registrar will not prejudge these issues by suggesting the use of the previous year's schedule.
- The spread of classes throughout the day will be closely monitored.
- Every effort will be made to assign classes in local areas to the extent possible and to minimize faculty travel from one school to another.
But to a much greater extent than the past, the Office of the University Registrar has been instructed that all space in all schools within
reasonable walking distance is available for the scheduling of any class. Special accommodations will of course be made if required.
The Associate Provost for Academic Support and Classroom Management recommends the adoption of other policies
as we gain more experience in centralized classroom management. Please contact the Associate Provost in Booker House (924-3728, firstname.lastname@example.org)
if you have questions or comments about any of these matters.
Electronic Classroom Policies
The policies on use of electronic classrooms, maintained by ITS, is posted at: www.itc.virginia.edu/labs/classroomPolicy.php.