UREG: Registrar's Office at the University of Virginia
   

Classroom Policies

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."

Classroom Policies

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.

Classroom Management

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.

Centralized Scheduling

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.

New Policies

  • 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, wynne@virginia.edu) 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.