Arlie Petters, Dean of Academic Affairs

Maintaining optimal class size; Thanksgiving holiday & classes

November 9, 2017

Dear Faculty,

Now that registration is almost complete, I would like to remind you that we need to be vigilant about maintaining optimal class sizes. Please be mindful of waitlists and of raising course caps. We want to accommodate as many students on waitlists as possible; we also want to maximize the number of small and medium size classroom experiences.

  • Seminars and small group learning experiences are considered 18 students or fewer.

  • Large classes are 50 students or more.

For any course to exceed their respective thresholds of 18 or 49 students, there must be a compelling academic reason for either the student or the class. I know we want to accommodate students if there are seats available in the room, but we also need to maximize the number of classes with fewer than 18 and with fewer than 50 students, so that all of our students can experience as many small and medium size classes as possible. If a course cap is already over 50, the issuing of permission numbers to expand the class size significantly beyond 50 is fine, assuming available seating capacity.

If you have large waitlists and you have the capacity in terms of instructors or TAs but need financial support to add a section to better accommodate students on these waitlists, please notify me immediately. Thank you for helping Duke maintain optimal class sizes and the highest quality of instruction for our undergraduate students.

Thanksgiving recess begins at 10:30pm Tuesday, November 21, 2017—classes are in session Tuesday and instructors are expected to hold class, even though many students begin their Thanksgiving recess early.

Sincerely yours,

Arlie O. Petters, Ph.D.
Dean of Academic Affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Benjamin Powell Professor of Mathematics
Professor of Physics and Economics