University's student-faculty ratio doesn't factor in most FYE courses

The John W. Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education on the UConn campus in Storrs, Connecticut. The building is home to the First Year Experience office. (Jackson Mitchell/The Daily Campus)

While the University of Connecticut maintains a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, that ratio is affected by the number of undergraduates who taking small, one-credit first-year experience (FYE) courses, some of which are taught by faculty without pay.

FYE classes that are taught by professional staff are not counted towards the student-to-faculty ratio, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said. Only honors FYE classes are counted towards the ratio.

“The relatively small number of those courses, when taken in context with the multitude of other courses taught throughout the university means it would have negligible if any effect on rankings,” she said.

Reitz said adjuncts had taught only 4 percent of the 213 FYE classes that were offered this past fall semester, and that they are not recruited to teach honors FYE courses.

“The Honors FYE courses are taught by faculty members or by staff members with terminal degrees,” Reitz said.  “In the rare cases when an adjunct teaches one of these classes, it does count toward the maximum credits for which an adjunct is permitted to be compensated in a given semester.”

However, English department adjunct Rebecca Rumbo previously taught FYE courses for two semesters a few years ago, but had a different experience. Rumbo taught both a regular FYE course and an honors FYE course.

“I was not paid for teaching either class,” Rumbo said.

Many FYE instructors are staff members and teaching a FYE course is part of their job description, Reitz said. Other instructors choose to teach FYE courses as professional development or volunteer to do so, she said.

“The core curriculum of these courses exists to help serve as the foundation upon which every first and second year student can build their academic successes,” according to the FYE website.

Research has shown that mentoring relationships with faculty and peers can influence students to have a successful college career, FYE assistant director Shawna Lesseur said.

“At UConn first-year experience classes are capped at 19 students per class section to ensure that every student gets a personalized, supportive experience,” she said. “This is a big university, but small FYE classes are one way that we in First Year Programs & Learning Communities help new students feel part of our welcoming community right from the start.”


Annabelle Orlando is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at annabelle.orlando@uconn.edu.