TCU’s record-high enrollment and increasing number of faculty members could be causing campus buildings to burst at the seams.Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nowell Donovan said the problem of limited office space has been “creeping up” on the administration for years but has accelerated in recent years because of the administration’s goal to decrease the student-faculty ratio from 15-1 to 13-1.
Donovan said the undergraduate population has increased by 26 percent over the past 15 years.
“This means we have added faculty each year for quite a while, which adds an additional accelerated component to the capacity problem,” he said.
In his 2005 convocation speech, Chancellor Victor Boschini said the Board of Trustees took a significant step forward last spring by authorizing the capping of undergraduate enrollment at the current 7,200, along with the growth of graduate programs over the next decade.
Donovan said TCU still needs 51 faculty members to reach the 13-1 ratio.
But where will the new faculty tell their students to meet them for office hours?
Mary Volcansek, dean of the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said she has been working with administrators to create additional office space for two years.
“We have divided every office I can think of, we have built offices and we have taken over vacant buildings and houses around campus,” Volcansek said.
AddRan has roughly 1,750 students, representing one-third of TCU’s undergraduate enrollment, and the number continues to grow, Volcansek said.
Volcansek expects to welcome seven to 10 new faculty members into AddRan in the next academic year but said she doesn’t know where she is going to put them.
“We recently moved two departments to a building on Berry Street; we moved one into the basement in Sid Richardson, and we have one in an old house close to campus,” she said.
Although AddRan faculty members have had to adapt to congested work conditions, Volcansek said, the university has been efficient in accommodating all 142 of her faculty members with individual offices.
“The question is, what am I going to do with my new faculty members next year?” Volcansek asked.
Another entity expecting to add faculty is the M.J. Neeley School of Business.
Mark Muller, assistant dean, said there are no available offices in the business school.
“All of our adjunct faculty work in a bullpen cube area,” Muller said. “In some cases, an instructor that has morning classes will share a cube with an instructor with afternoon classes.”
The limited office space is affecting full-time faculty.
Three offices were lost in the business school to the new University Career Center, he said.
One full-time faculty member uses a cubical where the adjunct faculty members are located and the other two full-time faculty members share a small office, Muller said.
Blair Ensign, a senior business major, said she’s not comfortable discussing personal matters with her professor in an office that holds several professors.
“I wouldn’t want to discuss intimate details in front of other professors, but I would feel comfortable discussing my grades,” she said.
The administration is remodeling existing offices to make them smaller to allow room for additional offices, he said.
“We also cannibalized a training room for professional communications classes into office space,” Muller said.
Faculty members in the College of Fine Arts also are experiencing crammed conditions.
Dean Scott Sullivan said the College of Fine Arts has the lowest enrollment of any college on campus but said it may require the largest offices.
Music faculty members teach individual lessons in their offices, requiring room for a teacher, two students and a piano, he said.
“We are in a near-crisis situation,” Sullivan said. “With the assistance of physical plant personnel, we have divided and added offices wherever we can.”
The College of Science and Engineering is in a different situation. It has departments in four buildings, which allows faculty members to use available offices in several buildings.
Dean Michael McCracken said he expects to add one to two additional faculty in the coming year but doesn’t anticipate a serious capacity problem.
“By being creative, I think we can accommodate these individuals, but these appointments will additionally put us at capacity,” McCracken said. “However, we will have difficulty accommodating additional faculty in subsequent years without creating additional office space.”
School of Education Dean Samuel Deitz said faculty members there are in a better situation than most. Each faculty and staff member in the school has an individual office, and the new building will be built next year to allow for growth, he said.
But William Slater, dean of the College of Communication, said the renovation of the School of Education could exacerbate the capacity problem in the short term.
“The faculty in the Bailey Building will be required to relocate for the duration of the renovation,” he said. “But where are they going to go?”
Donovan said Jarvis Hall will be used as transitional space for faculty members.
Donovan said the deans and other members of the Provost Council regularly present their concerns to him, and he responds as he deems appropriate.
Physical plant personnel moved the design, merchandising and textile department to Berry Street to deal with the space crunch, he said.
Donovan said TCU’s capacity problem will be alleviated when construction of phase one of the university’s campus master plan, which is scheduled to begin in summer 2006, is completed.
Phase one includes the renovation of the Brown-Lupton Student Center, which is expected to provide space to AddRan faculty members and will allow the administration to centralize the Honors Program, he said.
Donovan said he thinks the plans are comprehensive but will take time to implement.
“Over the next years we will need to remember the virtues of patience,” he said.