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Strategic Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Strategic Budget Advisory Committee

State Asks Universities to Schedule More Friday Classes

February 8, 2009

By KELLY DAY - The Star Press.com
kday@muncie.gannett.com

MUNCIE -- Ball State University will offer more Friday classes in the fall semester.

University administrators were told by state officials to make the change because a decrease in Friday classes over the past several years has created less efficient scheduling and could create a false need for new facilities -- something that would cost taxpayers.

"They're basically saying that you're not using the space in a way that taxpayers would like you to," said Marilyn Buck, associate provost and dean of University College at Ball State.

If all Ball State classes add up to 100 percent, Monday through Thursday have at least 20 percent each day. Fridays, however, drop down to less than 15 percent, according to Philip Sachtleben, associate vice president of government relations. That is less than at Indiana State University and Purdue University, but more than at Indiana University-Bloomington.

The university is requesting $19.7 million from the state for the second phase of a renovation to the Teachers College, North Quad and Applied Sciences and Technoclogy building, in addition to more than $14 million for standard repair funds, which Sachtelben said the General Assembly has already said will be cut in half. Ball State received $33 million in 2007 for the first phase of the project.

Ball State was asked by the Commission for Higher Education to update information on the distribution of classes just weeks after the Indianapolis Star published an article about Indiana University's small number of Friday classes, Sachtleben said. The State Budget Committee then asked that university presidents be prepared to discuss the distributions of classes during their biennial budget request presentations.

The university has increasingly scheduled more Monday/Wednesday classes that are 75 minutes long, instead of Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes that are only 50 minutes long. The longer classes take up more time slots during the day and therefore allow for fewer classes altogether, Buck said.

Last semester, Ball State offered 139 Monday/Wednesday classes. The university is now down to 69, a number that may decrease even more by the time the schedule is complete, said Laura Helms, assistant dean of University College and interim director of Academic Systems.

The university's Student Affairs and Academic Affairs departments are also in favor of the change because they hope more Friday classes will keep students at the university on the weekends, which will help retention rates, and that students will have more options for scheduling.

Ball State sophomore Megan Braham said she doesn't think the change will make much of a difference in how involved students are. Braham is from Terre Haute and tries to go home once a month to see her family. She only takes one class on Fridays at 9 a.m., but works from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. But Braham said she does think staying on campus helps students become engaged in campus life.

Junior Camille Cockrell, Indianapolis, said she goes home twice a month. Cockrell has two classes on Fridays, but is done at 12:50 p.m. She said she has scheduled classes so she could go home earlier.

"This semester that wasn't my intention, but I know I have in the past," she said.