Computer courses evade cancellation

Last-minute instructor switch saves course

By Christian Urrutia, Photo Editor

A transitional process took place within two computer science courses that almost left prospective students looking to enroll without an instructor.

Between fall 2014 and the current semester, an adjunct instructor was hired to teach COMP-252, Data Structures and Algorithms and COMP-257, JAVA with Object-Oriented Programming because of a contractual restriction with a full-time faculty member.

Due to the banked load he accrued, Thomas Murphy, high performance computing, computer information systems and computer science professor, was no longer allowed to teach courses related to the computers and related electronics department.

According to Dr. Donna Floyd, senior dean of instruction, who also oversees the Natural, Social and Applied Sciences Division, banking load occurs when a full-time faculty member surpasses the amount of unit courses he or she is required to teach within their respective department.

For example, a 3-unit lecture course is equal to 20 percent of an overall percentage of the classes being taught.

If each of the five classes being taught at 20 percent, then an instructor would be at the 100 percent goal for the semester, Floyd said.

“So say if an instructor goes above 100 percent, they can be paid extra for that or they can accrue the unit load and bank it for another time to use,” she said.

Courses vary in the amount of units they satisfy, so the amount of banked load can change from instructor to instructor. Full-time faculty can only accumulate a certain amount of banked load before they are required to use it, she said.

“This semester Mr. Murphy is using 100 percent of banked load and therefore is not teaching classes,” Floyd said.

Computer information systems department Chairperson Robert Chan said that since Contra Costa College’s contract with Murphy is still valid and he is still technically an employee, his full-time position cannot be replaced.

Because of Murphy’s departure, he, Chan and Floyd were able to conduct interviews prior to the start of spring semester, beginning in December.

Chan said the most promising candidate was an adjunct from Diablo Valley College during the quick scramble to find a replacement.

The computer science classes did not show up in the printed schedule for the spring 2015 semester, but were later displayed in a list of open sections for a brief period of time on the school website.

According to Floyd, the classes were blocked from appearing in the schedule since there was no planned staff and the courses were placed on a holding status to initiate the process to find an instructor.

Three courses were planned for computer science but one was eventually cancelled due to low enrollment, allowing for a readjustment of the remaining class times and days to better suit the schedule of the newly hired adjunct professor, Faramarz Mortezaie.

Chan said all three courses would have been canceled because of low enrollment if not for the remaining student interest in the courses.

CCC alumni Gabe Tanenhaus, teacher’s assistant for the current computer science courses, said most of the students who enrolled had taken Murphy’s classes before.

“I’m actually surprised how many people enrolled because there wasn’t much communication about it,” Tanenhaus said.

He also said that, despite not being listed in the schedule, students were able to register for the courses on InSite Portal in the search and register section of the website.

Murphy said computer science at CCC has continued to stay in motion. He said that a curriculum was in place for professor Mortezaie to take over and so far he has been a great asset for the students.

“Talking to the students, I found he was well received and I knew he was going to work out well following a rocky transition,” Murphy said.