Rice must invest in instructors
Rice has a scalability problem. As undergraduate enrollment at Rice has grown rapidly in the past 10 years, many students and faculty have questioned if the undergraduate experience has lost part of its value: its educational intimacy (see p.1).
President David Leebron claims that students’ changing preferences among disciplines has led to higher demand departments, such as those in social sciences and engineering, having larger classes. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson said Rice has had to hire non-tenure-track professors — the number of NTT faculty has increased by a factor of six over the last ten years — as a stopgap measure. However, the administration should recognize that a lack of foresight and long-term planning, which is evidenced by the hiring of NTT faculty, has led to our current problems.
Large classes are not merely caused by changing preferences; they are also caused by Rice not hiring enough faculty to keep up with the growth in undergraduate enrollment. While enrollment has increased 36.1 percent over 10 years, the number of instructors has grown 32.9 percent from fall 2004 to fall 2014 according to the Office of Institutional Research.
Rice has tried to make large classes more interactive through different teaching methods, such as the Student Centered Active Learning at Rice program and the flipped classroom method. However, many students find SCALAR not only a waste of time, but also unengaging.
Above all else, Rice should invest in student instruction, and this should come in the form of more professors, tenure-track and non-tenure-track alike. Rice found itself in this situation because of a lack of foresight, and it would be a shame if inaction on this front led to similar consequences down the line.
Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.
More from The Rice Thresher
Beware of dissenters, reinvestigate the real Israel
Israel is a special place and arguably the most misunderstood in the world. We will be celebrating Israel’s 75th birthday at Rice, commemorating the occasion with a conference hosted by the Baker Institute on April 27, 2023. It is important to understand that the Jewish connection to the land of Israel goes back thousands of years. Jews were always in this land before Israel was created. As I prepare to graduate, having founded a Students Supporting Israel chapter at Rice, I want students to be informed about Israel and Palestine. There are many people who spew misinformation and will not want to listen to facts because of the false narrative they love to believe.
Thank you for letting me tell your stories
If there is anything I will miss about college, it is the Thresher. No matter how many long nights or years of my life I have given to this paper, I have never grown tired of the Thresher. Maybe because of a superb staff that impresses me every day with their talent and dedication to good journalism or the unwavering support and friendship (and fist bumps) from my co-editor Ben Baker-Katz, but, I think most of all, it is the work I was able to do here.
Thresher holds the memories of a campus
For the last two years, whenever someone has tried to make plans with me on a Tuesday, I’ve responded with some version of “I can’t, I’ve got Thresher.” The natural next question, after I explain that putting together a weekly paper takes up the vast majority of every Tuesday, is “Why do you spend so much time on it?” And silly as it may seem, I’ve never really come up with a good answer to that question.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.