MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Miami-Dade College has become the largest public college in the country, but the school could be in trouble. The college has been warned it could have its accreditation pulled if the school doesn’t fix a problem of overcrowding and under-staffing.
The warning sent by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools says in part the college has failed to “provide evidence that it has an adequate number of full-time faculty to support the mission of the institution.”
Since the recession hit, enrollment at Miami-Dade has grown over 50%. Students say they have seen their class sizes grow significantly.
“Some students need that one on one feeling with the teacher and with so many students in one class you can’t get that feeling,” MDC freshman Vicky Pierre told CBS4’s David Sutta.
The college has responded to the surge with hiring more part time professors, but not all students support that plan.
“I think when you have a lot of adjuncts and part-time professors they have other jobs and other things and this is more of a supplement,” student Lauren Pacho said.
Miami-Dade Provost Rolando Montoya said the part-time faculty brings real world experience to the classroom, and carry the same advanced degrees.
“The courses that are taught by part-time faculty members are of equivalent quality because the part time faculty is as good as the full-time faculty,” Montoya said.
Montoya said they have enough staff on hand and that the warning came as a surprise to the school.
“We definitely believe that the warning was unjustified,” Montoya said.
Senator Oscar Braynon believes the warning is not for Miami-Dade, but for legislators.
As the legislature cuts funds for schools, Miami-Dade has to make painful cuts to survive. But with the state battling unemployment issues, student enrollment is skyrocketing at colleges and universities.
So Miami-Dade is faced with having to hire more teachers to stay accredited, with less money and larger classes. Which means unless the public is willing to pay a little more taxes, the legislature will continue to gut school budgets and run the risk of having schools’ accreditation being stripped.
“The warning is to us,” Senator Brannon said. “Miami-Dade has cut and cut and cut. And they have gotten to this point.”
Senator Braynon believes years of legislative cuts have taken its toll. He warned Miami-Dade College may be the first of many.
“I believe it’s going to trickle down because we are cutting across the board,” Brynon said.
Miami-Dade has until December to respond to the warnings. If they do not it could be put on probation or in a worst-case scenario have their accreditation yanked. They believe though they will have the warning reversed before then.