NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The chancellor of Rutgers-New Brunswick is confident that a new course scheduling system slated to come online in March will work "extremely well."
CourseAtlas is software platform that "aims to make it easier for students in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick to sign up for the courses they need to complete their degrees on time, while cutting down on time spent traveling to class," according to a press release from the university issued in October.
The software will balance student demand, instructor preferences and available classroom space in creating course schedules to help students fulfill requirements to graduate.
CourseAtlas is scheduled to be up and running when students sign up in March for their fall 2020 classes.
"It's been tested," said Molloy, who was the Center For Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science conference at the Heldrich Hotel on Friday to present Rep. Frank Pallone with an award. "We've run multiple simulations. The faculty have been extremely cooperative in those efforts. And rightfully so, there's been concerns about previous things that haven't gone extremely well in years past. This is not something that's a problem."
When asked if the school has conducted four simulations with CourseAtlas, Molloy said, "At least four simulations and we delayed it a full cycle."
Although Molloy said that he's "not at all worried about it working," members of the faculty are.
Members of the AAUP-AFT, a union that represents some 5,000 faculty members at Rutgers, held an emergency meeting on Nov. 8 to, among other things, voice their concerns that the program will not work as intended. They want the implementation of the program delayed or scrapped.
David Hughes, the treasurer of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, told TAPinto New Brunswick that some union members don't think the system is ready to be used yet. He also said he does not believe that CourseAtlas will streamline schedules for students.
Paul Hammond, associate vice chancellor for technology and instruction, said in the press release that the nearly 40,000 Rutgers students were taking about 260,000 trips to almost 6,000 course selections per week.
“So," Hammond said, "the goal was to reduce the number of trips and to more intentionally schedule our courses so that we could reduce the amount of travel students needed to make.”
Hughes said that the issue isn't the number of trips, but the commuting experience.
"The problem is that each of those trips is a God-awful nightmare," he said. "That's because there are too few buses and each bus moves so slowly because it gets stuck in traffic behind the cars. The solution on travel is an infrastructural issue having to do with bus lanes and signal priority at that traffic lights and those kinds of transit solutions being tried in many cities right now."
The AAUP-AFT also filed a formal unfair labor practice complaint with the Public Employees Relation Commission against the administration over the CourseAtlas' implementation.
Hughes said that if an employer wants to change schedules of a unionized workforce, it is obligated by law to come before the union and negotiate it.
Rutgers, through a spokesman, provided TAPinto New Brunswick with a reply, stating, "Approximately 100 out of more than 1,000 faculty members from the School of Arts and Sciences attended Friday’s meeting. Rutgers supports our faculty’s right to voice their opinions and to advance important campus conversations. The University also is committed to enhancing our students’ educational experience by decreasing their time-to-degree and the associated financial burden.
The University does not discuss pending litigation and therefore has no comment on the unfair practice charge."
When asked if he was a candidate to succeed University President Robert Barchi, who is leaving the school at the end of June, Molloy said, "I am not a candidate currently."