Page 21 - American_Higher_Education_V4

Basic HTML Version

21
not anticipate the workload that awaited him in southwest
Florida.
George has been developing and teaching both classroom
and online courses, running a summer technology program
for teachers, serving on university committees and trying to
do some original work in his field.
“We’re not a research university but my supervisors have
made it very clear to me that research is expected,” he said.
“And I have to publish to be sure I can get a job elsewhere, if
I have to.”
Many FGCU professors “are struggling with this issue in
a very big way,” Maria Roca said. “To be credible, our people
need to be engaged in scholarly activity but it’s hard to find
the time for it.”
Suzanne L. Richter, vice president for academic affairs,
agreed that “the first semester we were here, there was
too much of everything for everybody to do.” But she said
demands have lessened since then.
“Once faculty members get the (course) development
work done, and learn to manage their time better, things
improve,” Richter added. “You don’t have to answer every
e-mail message the instant you get it.”
Richter said she was “insistent that we not abuse our
junior faculty…I don’t want them penalized for teaching
here.”
However, Chuck Lindsey, associate professor of
mathematics and chair of the faculty senate, said, “everyone is
pretty laden at this point.”
Lindsey said a faculty-administration taskforce is
studying the possibility of offering higher pay or a reduced
teaching schedule to professors who are developing new
online courses.
Both Richter and Kathleen Davey, dean of instructional
technology, have been somewhat taken aback by complaints
about the demands of distance education. After all, they
thought, faculty members knew about the technology plan
when they were hired, and most expressed enthusiasm for
the idea.
But last summer, more than half of the faculty surveyed
said they did not think distance learning was an effective
alternative to traditional instruction. “Where is this resistance
coming from?” Davey wondered. “I thought I was back at
Ohio State.” (Before coming to Florida, she was associate
director of academic technology at Ohio State University,
where faculty enthusiasm for distance learning was limited.)
But Davey has decided that “the resistance is healthy,
the tension is good…We’re not having a revolution, but the
future of distance learning here will depend somewhat on the
new president.”
Community support for the new campus has been
strong, although there has been some grumbling because
FGCU does not plan to field a football team for at least a
decade. President McTarnaghan and others have raised
more than $30 million in private gifts—a large sum for a new
public campus.
McTarnaghan said one of his biggest problems has
been trying to make rigid state funding formulas, as well as
systemwide university rules, fit his experimental campus.
“We basically need less money for bricks and mortar and
more for technology,” he said, “but our laws and rules so far
do not permit that kind of flexibility.”
The president said he had to eliminate two buildings
from the “first phase” of campus construction in order to
Demands on young faculty members at Florida Gulf Coast have been heavy, according
to Ed George, an educational technology professor who said, “I stressed myself out
three or four times last year.”
Florida Gulf Coast
University by the Numbers
Spring 1999 enrollment
2,898
Freshmen
381
Sophomores
175
Juniors
586
Seniors
748
Graduate students
394
Non-degree students
614
Racial/ethnic enrollment (fall 1998)
Hispanic
6.72 percent
African American
3.36 percent
White non-Hispanic
85.80 percent
Other
4.12 percent
Total faculty and staff
555
Full-time faculty
183
Part-time faculty
117
Value of campus facilities
$51million
(under construction)
$15million
Monthly payroll
$1.9million
(approximate)
(Source: Florida Gulf Coast University)