Imagine being placed in the shoes of the faculty member who teaches in your largest class; lecturing nearly 60 students at a time in most cases, while still allowing the time to answer a question here and there.
For many students this task seems intimidating and in some cases may even appear unachievable in those “large” classroom settings. But for faculty members who have transferred from state universities to find a new home at Pacific, 60 students is not their old definition of a crowd.
“I didn’t know any different from state schools,” said Media Arts Professor Jennifer Hardacker. She obtained both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from large schools and before becoming a faculty member at Pacific was a part of the film and video program at University of Michigan.
Upon coming to Pacific, there were a number of different reasons why Hardacker felt the atmosphere was “much more collegial.”
One of these reasons was why Hardacker transferred away from her previous position to begin with. Surrounded by many other faculty members who had had their work published, Hardacker became aware early on at U.M. that a hierarchy existed. She had never been tenured and thus saw “high pressure for faculty to be stars.”
Because there was “always an undercurrent of competition” at a larger university said Hardacker, it was very apparent at Pacific how much more supportive her fellow faculty members were.
Although this detail was very crucial to her, Hardacker said many other differences existed; some of them positives and some of them negatives.
At U.M., Hardacker would often teach students for one course and never see them again. But at Pacific, she can have 3 classes with the same exact roster which she sees as “good and bad” because within a small campus there is usually only one professor to teach the course students require.
And yet, Hardacker said that familiarity can also be beneficial because unlike at U.M., “you can get cozy with a student” as long as you remember that you do have expectations from them in the class.
Admittedly, Hardacker realizes that the coziness she has built with her students may not always be realistic. Vision 2020 strives for more and more Pacific growth in a number of different ways.
Whether or not that growth will bring Hardacker into a setting similar to what they she has seen at U.M., one cannot say.
But for now, this culture shock has brought both positives and negatives, leaving her hopeful of what a growing university could mean for many of Pacific’s thriving programs.
“It would be nice to see our program grow a little more,” said Hardacker, “this is the first year we’ve had to really look at our curriculum. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily.”