Determining and scheduling a department’s courses over the academic year can be a particularly complicated task, and though some aspects can be delegated, it is ultimately the responsibility of the chair to see that course scheduling gets done thoughtfully and on time.

Early each semester, the chair will receive from the Registrar’s Office several documents on the department’s course offerings for the following semester. The essential document (which you will have to edit) is a Word Document that contains a list of the courses typically offered by your department for the following semester, including course numbers and titles (including those for multi-section courses), the professors who teach them, and the time slot(s) in which they have been offered. This is the document you need to update and send back to the Registrar to be entered into the College’s course database. It is based in part on what courses are listed in the online catalog, so it’s a good idea to update the catalog early in the semester, unbracketing courses you expect to be taught, bracketing courses that won’t be taught, adding any new courses that colleagues are proposing, and removing any that won’t be taught anymore.

Here's a link to the CAP course catalogue tool.  

The first step in preparing this document is reaching out to your departmental colleagues to confirm which courses they will be teaching in the following semester, and when they would like to teach them. Be sure to ask them for several possible time periods for each class, and remind them that this flexibility is crucial for you to develop a departmental course schedule that will allow the maximum number of students to enroll in them. You will also need to remind yourself (and your colleagues) of which courses are required one way or another (by your curriculum and by your department’s commitment to the College’s various requirements). You will want to make sure all those courses can be taught by available faculty (remembering who will be on leave, etc.). If you see that courses are missing, you might need to ask someone in the department to teach those courses, or ask the Associate Dean about hiring someone to teach as an adjunct. Once you have all this information, you can enter it in the Excel TIME OPTIONS worksheet (also a part of the package sent to you by the Registrar) to see what your whole department schedule will look like. Your department’s courses should be spread throughout the schedule, offering students the maximum choice, and avoiding scheduling conflicts within departmental offerings, especially for courses required by your students for the concentration or minor. Again, you may need to go back to colleagues to ask them for alternative time slots for their courses. One of the difficult but necessary tasks of the chair is to remind faculty that they do not have ultimate control over their own teaching schedule.

Note that the Registrar’s Office has a number of rules about course scheduling (reproduced below), designed to enhance the efficiency and fairness of the schedule. We want courses spread out as much as possible so that: a) students have the most choices possible; and b) so that we use our classrooms most efficiently. Typically, the time slots that are most in demand are MWF 10:00–10:50, 11:00–11:50, MW 1:00 – 2:15; TR 10:30–11:45, 1:00 – 2:15. Early morning classes, classes meeting at noon, and classes that meet on Fridays are the least scheduled. Particularly if faculty are looking to schedule classes in rooms close to their offices, it is advantageous to schedule those classes in underutilized timeslots.

Chairs should strongly encourage ALL faculty to teach in the less popular time slots, even if on a rotating basis, to make it more fair to everyone. Seniority is generally not a good reason for lack of flexibility. All faculty in your department should teach across the course schedule in an academic year.  CAP, the Registrar, and the Dean of Faculty all agree that departments should schedule classes on each of the five days of the week, and that no more than 35% of the courses offered by your department should fall into the most heavily used slots (MW at 1:00 or 2:30, TR 10:30 or 1:00).

The Word document also has information about the course limit (maximum number of seats) and the required equipment for each class. Be sure to check that all the information in this document is correct.

You will also get a document asking about restrictions (i.e. whether a course is open only to a particular class year, or years). Take special care with this. Courses with prerequisites have built-in ways of controlling who can get into the class, but 100 and 200 level courses with no or few pre-requisites can fill up entirely with seniors, which may not be in the best interest of the department or the Hamilton student body. Consult with your faculty about what restrictions they would like, and what kind of a mix of class years is in the best interest of the course, the department, and the College.

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search