Increased Funds Allow Campus To Expand High-Demand Classes

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Over $1 million from increased tuition and nonresident admissions will go towards increasing lower division courses and sections for UC Berkeley math and science departments to improve quality and availability, campus officials announced Tuesday.

Beginning next spring semester, money generated from the 32 percent fee hike as well as the increase in out-of-state and international student enrollment will be divided among the math, statistics, chemistry and physics departments.

Starting in 2011 to 2012, the funding will be increased to $1.85 million.

The funding of these courses is a continuation of a campus effort - including the addition of Reading and Composition courses announced last

spring - to ensure undergraduates have access to classes necessary to complete their degrees.

Math department funds will go towards restoring the "status quo" prior to cutbacks, according to UC Berkeley math professor Michael Christ. This includes decreasing the number of students in a discussion section from 30 to 25 and increasing section length from two to three hours.

Similar measures will be taken in other departments, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, such as restricting the number of upper division students in lower division classes and hiring graduate student instructors to increase the number of lectures and sections.

The math department will also hire student graders to free up more time to discuss material in section and postdoctorates to teach honors classes, said Barbara Peavy, director of student services for the campus department of mathematics.

The chemistry department will spend an estimated 5 to 10 percent of their allocated funds to replace antiquated laboratory apparatuses, said Dean of the College of Chemistry Richard Mathies.

According to Gilmore, the funding effort supports a "common-good" curriculum because the courses will serve students in a broad range of majors.

"(Around) 80 to 90 percent of people in the Chem 1 and 3 classes are nonmajors, which gives you an idea of how much this department services other departments," Mathies said.

Sophomore Ariela Koehler, a molecular cell biology major, said though she got into the lecture for Chemistry 3A, she had "a lot of trouble" getting into the corresponding lab section, causing her to fear she would not graduate on time.

"I was on the waitlist for maybe three months," she said. "MCB has a lot of prerequisites and a lot of the prerequisites are prerequisites for each other, so there is a very specific order you need to take classes in."

Mathies said he was "very pleased" with the new funding effort.

"Since (the students) are paying higher tuition, the quality of instruction should be better," he said. "This is a really, really important effort from the campus, and the administration should be congratulated."


Contact Samantha Strimling at [email protected]

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