What do you like most about making the course schedule?
I enjoy finding creative (and occasionally elegant) solutions to complex scheduling problems. Balancing faculty preferences with student and college needs isn't easy.
What does a great schedule accomplish for a school?
It gives students and faculty an opportunity to flourish. Students have the opportunity to prepare for their careers, of course, but also to potentially find a new path in an area of law they hadn’t considered. For faculty, finding ways to help them teach what they love and love what they teach makes for a much better learning environment for all.
What’s a common mistake you see in schedules?
Block scheduling tends to use space and time less efficiently than scheduling throughout the day.
How do you work with faculty to make an effective schedule?
Sometimes faculty are not aware how much their individual preferences can impact the rest of the schedule. I work hard to find solutions that maintain a student-focused approach while also respecting faculty preferences as much as I can. These are my colleagues and friends, and I take a long view—I don’t ask folks to do anything I wouldn’t do, and I try to recognize individual needs and power dynamics that can make scheduling more difficult for faculty members (particularly junior faculty, and faculty with young children). If I need to ask someone to do something that will be difficult for them, I make a special effort to accommodate their preferences in a subsequent year. Faculty have been great over the years in working to create the best schedule possible.
What’s the best compliment you ever received about a schedule you worked on?
For me, the most meaningful compliments are the simple “thank-yous” I have received from students who really, really wanted a particular class, or faculty who really needed an accommodation that I was able to provide.
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone just starting as a schedule-maker?
Be willing to work hard to accommodate student and faculty preferences. It makes for a challenging sort of logic puzzle, but you will receive dividends later as faculty will be more willing to accommodate your requests.
What challenges does the current pandemic pose for scheduler-makers?
We are not sure what will happen in terms of infection rates, and the science is still evolving. We may be forced to adapt even after all the effort to put together a schedule that involves in-person, hybrid, and online learning. It will take patience and goodwill from faculty and students, but I’m confident we can rise to the challenge.