Trinity offers a great variety of classes, and sometimes a class offered one semester will be absent from the curriculum afterwards. For students interested in taking these unique subjects, it can be frustrating to see something you planned on taking next semester no longer available. However, faculty and department chairs on campus have a different and unexpected story to tell.
For first year theater major Alex Parris, math has not been an enjoyable experience, and that disenjoyment continued when she was placed into one of the pre-calculus sections after taking the course her senior year.
“That’s a whole three-hour credit I have to take to get into the requisite class that is then another three-hour credit class that will have no impact on my life,” Parris said.
If Trinity creates more classes that synthesize liberal arts majors with their STEM counterparts, students like Parris would be interested and more compelled to complete their Pathways requirements sooner. In their absence, however, she feels alienated when it comes to selecting her STEM courses.
“It’s going to be a whole bunch of people who are going to use this for the rest of their lives, and me who is hoping to just get a C to pass and move on,” Parris said.
Parris is considering double majoring in communication in addition to her theater major. This means she faces the reality of taking 18 hours next semester to graduate on schedule.
“I understand that the point of a liberal arts education is to see and try everything, but I feel like they’re trying to stretch us in too many directions at once,” Parris said.
Parris is no stranger to theater and communication, as she began interning at theaters when she was 15 years old, so incorporating facets of unrelated material into her education is frustrating.
“I already know what I want to do, I already know I’m going to be good at it, and I already know I’m not going to use logarithms in my stage management career,” Parris said.
More often than not, classes that are no longer offered initially received a negative backlash, but eventually they fade out of the community’s memory. The only class that Jennifer Henderson, professor and chair of the communication department, can recall as no longer available is an animation course, for example.
“The course ended many years ago when a professor retired, so no one currently on campus would have even know that it had been an option,” Henderson said.
Claudia Stokes, chair of the English department, offered a plausible explanation for the minimization of these classes.
“I understand that students are disappointed, but, in my view, current faculty should be able to develop their own courses, not teach classes developed out of the interests of retired colleagues,” Stokes said.
Stokes went on to explain that faculty members will also often request information pertinent to their research interests to be a part of its shelves.
“However, once those faculty retire, those requested texts no longer get much use,” Stokes said. In an attempt to free space for more relevant literature, the library has been forced to remove large quantities of books and prepare them for waste removal.
Two of the most popular classes that are no longer offered, Chemistry of Crime and Chemistry of Art, were geared towards students not in a STEM major who were interested in completing their Common Curriculum requirements for science. These courses, developed by Nancy Mills and Michelle Bushey, allowed for a certain degree of flexibility. For example, the Chemistry of Art course was capable of being taught simultaneously with Studio Art for Chemists or with another course entitled Chemistry for the Visual Artist.
As with the animation class, or several courses in the English department, the two professors who used to teach these courses have retired. Christopher Pursell, professor and chair of the chemistry department, revealed that another significant issue with handling these lost classes is trying to find potential staff members to teach them, as finding qualified professors can be time-consuming and challenging.
“While the chemistry department is interested in developing and teaching courses for non-science majors, we are unable to do so at this time because we are woefully understaffed,” Pursell said.
The amount of time and resources necessary to teach a class often limits the continuation of these student-favorite classes. Pursell even extended this idea to the current programs in the chemistry department.
“Even now, we cannot teach the required courses for the pre-health and science students without term and part-time faculty,” Pursell said.
Other options remain for students to enroll in to fulfill each component of their liberal arts education. These options can be found on Tigerpaws each semester.