Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Great Students! (All patru of them)

I have been assured by many here at UBB that the students in the English Language Program in the Faculty of Economics are the best in the school. I shall have the third year cadre of these students in both my courses this term, numbering about thirty in all. If the four who attended the first class in Labor Management are typical, I will be working with a great set of undergraduates.

If four of thirty showed up for a class in mid-semester, a teacher would be tempted to blame his boring lectures. But it is the first day. According to Mihaela Lutas, several factors entered into the turnout stats. First, today was the day that the dorm rooms were being allocated to third-year students. The best students get the first picks, and my class was at 9:00. Ergo, many of my fine students were moving in, or helping friends do so. Second, it is more-or-less traditional for UBB professors, who know of this (weird and unproductive) interference of the housing function into the academic year, to treat the first week as a last week of summer vacation, and plan no more than the passing out of a first assignment at their opening classes. Third, Romanian law forbids a university from making attendance at lectures mandatory. Seminars (usually taught by TAs) can be required, but not the lectures, or "Class Sessions." Hence, the normal attendance rate at lectures is 50% or less.

Hence, only four showed up this morning. Andrew came from Oradea in the West, Corina from rustic Satu Mare in the North (where Octaviu the freshman lives), Flaviu from Cluj, and Marius, also from Cluj. After some introductory words about my background, J. William Fulbright, and the case method, I read a case from the podium, and led our first discussion. I read the classic workforce management case, "Hovey and Beard."

Contrary to the expectation that colleagues had instilled, participation was open, intelligent, and inclusive. All four took an active part, displaying undergraduate naivete, along with a bit of pessimism about what workers would do when a paced line was installed to replace individual handwork in a toy factory. But they were using their brains, were listening and engaged, and seemingly they, as I, enjoyed the class. I hope the word gets around that I am not a snore, and that at tomorrow's first Ops class I have a fuller contingent present.

At the end of class, Mihaela came by to show me to my office for "a surprise." She had equipped it with a new stapler, paper clips, paper, looseleaf binders, sheet protectors, etc. Moreover, my ACBSP self-studies had arrived from Kansas City, the very morning after I participated in a conference call with a visitation team on a school whose self-study was in that box. Better late than never! I spent the next few hours with my Ops TA, Melinda Plescan, discussing that course, and liasing with the System Engineer Vasile, who has promised me my new office computer, yet agaiin, for tomorrow. (He was swamped today. His office was a madhouse.)

Tomorrow I will launch Operations Management. Work, work, work!

My blood sugar monitor seems to love Romania. I have reduced my insulin intake in order to keep from going too low! Walk, walk, walk!

[Outside the windows there are raucous cheers resounding from the Piata Mihai Viteazul. Today Cluj played Chelsea (UK) in a European Cup Round (or some such) football (soccer) match. I have a hunch Cluj won.]


Kazz said...

great news on the shots, pop. I do wonder how your non-attending students will do in Flunkin' Duncan's course. Also, are you making them wear ties this time around?

Duncan McDougall said...

No ties. Though I do give extra credit for professional attire ;-)>