As the spring semester starts things Professor of Mathematics Kyle Anderson is relieved that all his classes ended up in rooms that make sense for what he teaches and none were changed at the last minute.
“[Last fall I initially] had BS208A assigned as the room for my Honors Calculus II class. But then, sometime towards the end of pre-class week, which is just a few days before the semester starts, my room suddenly got changed to AD234A,” he told The VOICE.
Professor Anderson explained that AD234A, which is typically used as a conference room because it is adjacent to the administrative offices, did have enough room for his Honors students, but that the whiteboard was too small to fit complex calculations higher level mathematics demands.
Professor Anderson says he requested that an additional whiteboard be installed in the classroom but his request was denied.
When asked for a comment, Jim Gardner, Mercer’s Director of Communications told The VOICE, “While a few classes a week do meet in the room, that is not its primary purpose, the room is already equipped with a whiteboard, so the installation of a second board was deemed unnecessary and not a prudent use of college financial resources.”
When The VOICE, asked College President Dr. Jianping Wang about the issue she said, “I don’t know the specifics of it because I am not aware of those things. But if it is really true, then I think something should change. It should be corrected and there should be consultations.”
She added that that’s the purpose of her having open office hours.
“I am a firm believer in open communication because if I didn’t want consultations and I want to make decisions [alone], I wouldn’t hold open office hours.” said Dr. Wang
It’s possible that more faculty members will start going to the president’s open office hours more often, as many echoed Professor Anderson by describing a variety of problems cropping up that they primarily attributed to rapid changes in the college’s top leadership positions leaving gaps in institutional memory.
In the last two years the college got a new President and two out of three college deans were new as were the Chief Financial Officer, most of the IT department, the Registrar, the person who assigns classrooms, and a number of other key administrators.
One faculty member who requested to remain anonymous explained that making even the smallest or relatively simple requests are such time-consuming process because each of the requests have to go through so much paperwork and red tape that, even when someone is trying to help them, it takes them much longer than they should.
As a new Vice President, the sixth in five years, arrives in March, faculty say they are hoping that having the position filled will help bring more consistency and that the President and Vice President will be able to work together to smooth out these bumps.
One professor who also asked to remain anonymous said: “Maybe the new administrators can start to see the value to the students in slowing down, not rushing every new idea and policy, taking time to study what needs to be done, proactively seeking feedback from students and faculty before making changes. It could save everyone a lot of headaches like with the student email transition, and the change to the academic calendar. These were good things in many ways, but the plans were rushed out.”
The same faculty member added: “A lot of problems could be avoided if everyone wasn’t always acting like the house is on fire. Hopefully the new VP will bring a fire extinguisher.”