Classroom Assignment Update

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

On behalf of the Classroom Committee, I am writing to update all of you on our ongoing work to address the University’s processes related to assigning classrooms for your teaching. As we all know, Fairfield has been in an enviable position among universities across the country, as our enrollments have been growing and the size of our faculty has been increasing, even during the pandemic. But this has also put a very real strain on our established approach to assigning classrooms, and so the Committee, in consultation with the Registrar’s Office, Facilities Management, Conference and Events Management, ITS, and the Provost, has been working on ways to simplify the attribute-selection process and to make more efficient use of our classrooms. 

Our work is currently proceeding along two avenues. The first, and somewhat simpler one, has to do with the process by which faculty indicate their curricular needs for classrooms. Ever since the current calendaring system, EMS, was installed on campus, we have simply added more and more room attributes to the faculty selection screens – attributes that have never changed and that sometimes even conflicted with one another. This often led to instructors inadvertently restricting the classroom choices available to them, or choosing attributes that might no longer be applicable. We have therefore spent time re-thinking the selection process, pruning the list of room attributes, and focusing the choices on curricular options that could make a difference for how an individual instructor chooses to teach, rather than on personal preferences. Perhaps the biggest change is that only faculty who need a variation from the basic classroom features will have to make selections; that is, if your teaching can be done with single-source projection (projector or TV), from a personal laptop or iPad, and with high-quality speakers and a whiteboard in the room, there will be no need for you to engage in the selection process.  If you do need something different than that, however, you will log in as you always have and make selections from a short list that includes exceptions or special features, such as a chalkboard, movable chairs/tables, an instructor’s computer, etc. We believe that this will result in more rooms meeting faculty members’ teaching criteria and provide the Registrar with more flexibility in assigning – and subsequently moving – classes. (Please note that although it will not be specified in the selection options, the Registrar will continue to prioritize our established department/building assignments, e.g., natural sciences and mathematics classes go first to Bannow, humanities and social science classes go first to Canisius or Donnarumma, etc.)

Our second avenue involves taking a step back and assessing the larger picture of how our classrooms are utilized and what we might change in order to be more efficient in their use — getting a holistic view of current classroom utilization and possible improvements for efficiency and teaching.  To assist us in this examination, David Frassinelli, Vice President of Facilities Management, has asked one of his space-planning consultants to do an analysis of our classroom usage – the number of rooms, the square footage of each one, our individual class enrollments, our class schedules, our time code distributions, and more – all with the goal of presenting options that would optimize the assignment of classes. This consultant has worked with the University for years, and is therefore familiar with our campus as well as our teaching culture, and has also done classroom-assignment planning for 100+ institutions across the country. This report will be completed and delivered prior to spring break, at which point the Committee will review the recommendations and determine which ones might be easy enough to simply implement and which ones would need to be turned over to the appropriate Handbook committees for consideration. The Classroom Committee and I will certainly be in touch soon with more information regarding this process.

In the meantime, we are close to the time when faculty will be asked to select Curricular Attributes for fall classrooms, and with this round we will begin the new process described in the second paragraph above. Next week, Associate Registrar Kim Droniak will be sending out a new set of instructions for collecting the Curricular Attributes every instructor needs for their classes – if they need to choose any at all – along with information regarding when that information is required. Please follow Kim’s instructions for contacting her and the Registrar’s Office with questions about recording your selections, but you can also contact me, as Chair of the Classroom Committee, with any comments regarding our work in coordinating these efforts and I’ll be sure and share them with all the members.

Thank you very much for your consideration and adaptability as we work to improve the assignment process. 

Jay Rozgonyi
Chair, Classroom Committee
Associate Vice Provost for Pedagogical Innovation & Effectiveness

For more information, contact Jay Rozgonyi / 2416 /