Communication is the most popular major in Fairfield’s College of Arts and Sciences, a fact which is not very evident when looking at the faculty roster of the communication department.

There are just six full-time faculty members in the communication department, according to the 2001-02 staff directory. The result is a student to full-time faculty ratio of 45:1, and although the department does make use of adjunct professors, concerns have been raised that such a high ratio limits the effectiveness of academic advising within the department.

“During registration, everybody is stressed out,” said Caroline Casey ’03. “When we go to pre-register, it’s just chaos. There should definitely be more communication professors hired.”

The lack of professors within the department has other ancillary effects, such as large class sizes.

“The class sizes are pretty big,” said Deirdre Kelly ’03. “All the classes are probably about five to six people over, because some classes are so hard to get into and seniors have to be written into them or they won’t graduate.”

In contrast, the most popular major in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, marketing, has a student to full-time faculty ratio of roughly 31:1. Other majors within the school of business, such as accounting and managment, are much less, with ratios of roughly 12:1 and 10:1, respectively.

This difference, some argue, is just one of many that have arisen between the School of business and the college, in large part due to the business school’s accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The standards established by the AACSB “assures quality and promotes excellence and continuous improvement in undergraduate and graduate education for business administration and accounting,” according to its website.

The accreditation standards on the AACSB website do not provide real specifics as far as the mandates of the AACSB with respect to the percentage of full-time faculty needed, only a general outline. However, some professors in the College of Arts and Sciences have been critical of the university’s unequal treatment of the business school and the college.

“The standard that is most dramatic in its impact on institutional resources has to do with a very specific percentage of business courses that must be taught by full-time, tenure track faculty. This percentage applies to all business courses taught at Fairfield—both in the daytime and in Continuing Education and graduate classes,” said Dennis Hodgson, sociology professor.

He added, “This requirement puts a clear upper limit on the percentage of courses that can be taught by adjuncts and non-tenure track instructors. There are huge institutional savings entailed in having adjunct professors teach six courses for $3,150 each without benefits rather than a full-time instructor teaching those six courses for a total compensation package of $100,000.”

Is there a gap developing between the Dolan School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences? According to top university administrators, no.

“I am not aware of any gap in the education of students at Fairfield from one school to another,” said Orin Grossman, academic vice president. “I am not aware of a single study that would suggest that students who have had an adjunct in a course have received a poorer quality of instruction than students who were taught by a full-time professor. There are issues relating to mentoring that I think are important. Full-time professors have the obligation to mentor students and advise students at a level beyond what could be reasonably expected from adjuncts.”

Norm Solomon, dean of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, concurred. “There is no gap at all,” he said. “Students pursuing degrees in either the college or in the school of business receive an excellent education and an excellent degree.”

With reference to the AACSB standards, Solomon added that “These standards are designed to ensure that the quality of the business programs here meet an international level of excellence among business programs. This takes nothing away from the high quality of instruction offered in the CAS.”

When asked whether a gap existed between the school of business and the college, Timothy Law Snyder, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, “Some believe that’s true. The real problem is how you measure educational quality.”

Snyder added, “Adjuncts in general have less time to share with students. We also tend to work with and look over adjuncts less than full-time instructors. We’re trying to tease out all the various issues related to this, but it’s going to take some time.”

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