Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shared scheduling of classrooms will make better use of space, resources

Academic units and the Registrar’s Office will begin sharing classroom-scheduling responsibilities for classes that meet between 8 a.m. and noon, effective for the Fall Term 2010 curriculum planning period.

The shared scheduling will help the Registrar’s Office meet classroom needs campuswide and make better use of U-M space, and faculty, staff and student time.

Shared scheduling at a glance

Effective for the Fall 2010 curriculum planning period:
• Units must complete their Fall 2010 preliminary class schedules by Feb. 8.
• The Registrar’s Office will assign unplaced classes to available classrooms campuswide between 8 a.m. and noon.
• Non-class activities must be scheduled after noon, in a room that is not a general-purpose classroom, or wait until the semester class schedule has been set before scheduling those activities in classrooms.

Units will continue to have the first opportunity to schedule classes in their classroom buildings as they do currently. The Registrar’s Office may then schedule classes from other departments or schools and colleges between 8 a.m. and noon in any open classrooms, as needed.

Units will need to schedule other activities — faculty meetings, student group meetings or guest lectures — after noon, in a room that is not a general-purpose classroom, or wait until the semester class schedule has been set before scheduling those activities in classrooms.

The new model of shared scheduling of general-purpose classrooms across the university grew out of a Space Utilization Initiative study of classroom use.

“From talking to the Registrar’s Office and units across campus and looking at classroom utilization, we learned that many departments often are challenged to find classrooms to meet their instructional needs,” says Frances Mueller, project manager for the Space Utilization Initiative.

While some units can assign all their classes within their buildings and have rooms available to schedule additional activities, other units run short of quality classroom space and must scramble to find rooms. “Some units also have very specific instructional needs and find it challenging to locate classrooms to meet those needs,” she adds.

“We realized that to improve classroom utilization, we first needed to give the Registrar’s Office — U-M’s official scheduling office — the ability to identify and schedule classrooms on behalf of all academic departments. This is key to supporting the university’s academic mission,” Mueller says.

For shared classroom scheduling to work smoothly, units will need to adhere to curriculum planning deadlines set by the Registrar’s Office to ensure that they have first priority in scheduling their classrooms before the Registrar’s Office starts assigning classrooms to other units.

“As a campus, it is important to plan ahead and finalize course schedules before students register,” University Registrar Paul Robinson says. “This is especially true as more students pursue interdisciplinary studies. They need to know where classes will meet so they can determine travel time between classes.

“Last-minute decisions on curriculum schedules also can create hours of extra work for faculty and staff. The new scheduling approach will free up unit time previously spent searching for classrooms.”

Phil Hanlon, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, says, “Shared scheduling provides more opportunities for departments to use newer, state-of-the-art classrooms for classes, instead of being limited to classrooms within a particular unit. We believe this will result in more effective teaching and learning experiences for faculty and students.

“Sharing classrooms also ensures that the university fully utilizes its highest quality classroom space, and helps us identify classrooms that are underutilized and could be used for higher priority academic or research needs.”

This reduces the need to construct or lease additional space and contributes greatly to the university’s overall cost containment efforts, Hanlon adds.

Students and departments that currently rely on the Registrar’s Office to assign classes to classrooms are not likely to notice changes in classroom assignments under the new shared scheduling process, Robinson says.

Staff members responsible for classroom scheduling will hear more details about curriculum planning deadlines, expectations for classroom technology support for instructors and requirements for maintaining classroom inventory in the coming weeks.

For more information about the new shared scheduling process, go to www.provost.umich.edu/space/projects/scheduling.html. Additional questions or comments should be directed to space.utilization@umich.edu.