Due to decreased class sizes, the Youngstown State University Metro College at Southwoods in Boardman will no longer offer for-credit classes in spring 2015.
Ron Cole, the university’s public information officer, said the Metro College’s operations are under review due to the decreasing number of students choosing to attend classes there.
“There has been a reduction of the number of students being served out there,” he said. “I can say, as part of general ongoing review of all operations on campus, the Metro College is being looked at in that light.”
Jack Fahey, the vice president of Student Affairs, said — based on his own research —the Metro College at Southwoods was not serving its primary function, as an alternative option for students who could not make it to campus for classes.
“I remember about a year ago, I was doing some research and came across a piece of data that indicated that there were only a handful of students that were only taking classes at Metro — like five or six was all. Most of the students that were taking classes at Metro were also taking two or three classes at the university,” Fahey said. “The purpose of Metro was to be an alternate campus for people that couldn’t make it to our campus. Clearly, based on the data that I saw, that certainly wasn’t the case. People were taking a class mainly because it was in a different time and those kinds of things. It was probably inconveniencing them having them go back and forth from the campus to Boardman.”
Karla Krodel, director of the Metro Credit program, confirmed that all for-credit classes at the Metro College were cancelled for spring 2015, but the classes offered at Metro would be absorbed back into the main campus. Capacity for these classes would remain unaffected.
“Basically, the current enrollment out of Metro College for the last couple of semesters just doesn’t warrant having sessions out there. In other words, for the vast majority of the departments, there is ample capacity on campus to absorb those students,” she said. “No capacity is going to be lost. If we need 150 seats for a given department that used to be out of Metro, the funding for those sections will be transferred to campus. So they are not going to be lost.”
Though Krodel could not confirm whether the administration made the decision purely to reduce spending, she said the cancellation of these classes would save the university money.
“If we got an instructor that is teaching 10 students on campus and an instructor teaching 10 students down at Metro, and we eliminate the Metro section, and then the instructor on campus is teaching 20 students, we have saved money,” she said.
Though Krodel said that, in this scenario, faculty could lose positions, she was not involved in hiring Metro College instructors and she could not speak with certainty on how their jobs would be impacted.
“The departments hire all their instructors. They are not hired by Metro College, and so the departments determine which instructors will teach out there. Some instructors request it. And sometimes it is part timers, sometimes it is full time,” she said. “I can’t speak to that for certain because I don’t really hire instructors, but, in the scenario that I just mentioned … Then yes there would be one less part timer, you know, in that scenario.”
Julia Gergits, the chair of the English department — which commonly holds classes such as Writing 1 and 2 at the Metro — said positions will be impacted by this change.
“Fewer classes are offered overall; Metro is a small number of the reductions. Yes, instructors are affected by those reductions,” she said.
Angela Spalsbury, the chair of the mathematics and statistics department, said they could possibly retain all those instructors depending on the retention of Metro College students.
“We have seen a significant decline in enrollment in mathematics courses at the Metro College. We only offered three courses there this semester and none of them were near to capacity,” she said. “I’ve been told by the Metro College people that surveys given to Metro College students indicate that most, if not all, would come to the main campus if we didn’t offer courses there. If those students come to the main campus then we may still be able to hire those instructors.”
Kordel said the Metro College department and the Metro College itself are not closing down, and non-credit courses will continue to be taught there.
“This department operates a number of programs outside of the off-site location, and those programs have been experiencing a great deal of growth, so we are staying real busy over here,” she said. “The workforce development people are still out there, and they teach non-credit classes. Those can be for personal enrichment or professional development. So, it can be anything from teaching people how to use Excel or PowerPoint to ballroom dancing; it can be real-estate licensure; it can be accounting … Those types of courses will continue to be held at Metro.”
Though no source could speak on what this change means for the future of the Metro College, Fahey assured students that the university would give heed to students’ response.
“I am sure that the folks at academic affairs are going to listen and pay attention to the students,” Fahey said.