Aaron Schaffer, Photo Editor

Last Thursday, Chair of the Biology Department John Jaenike informed students enrolled in Biology 110 that their instructor, Anthony Olek, would no longer be teaching the course.

Consequently, the department agreed to merge BIO 110 with BIO 112, with professor Michael Clark taking over instructing duties for both sections.

According to Jaenike, these drastic and largely unexpected changes to the course structure are going “remarkably well” despite the circumstances.

Due to employee-employer confidentiality provisions, UR is not allowed to release any specific information to students regarding the cause for Olek’s sudden leave.

What has ensued is a great deal of confusion and rumor spreading. Some have speculated that he was fired, others have claimed he fell ill, and still others even wonder if he died. All that UR has officially released is that Olek has taken a leave of absence and that he is out indefinitely.

Because of Olek’s departure, the two introductory biology sections merged, making already crowded courses even more so. The 9 a.m. lecture now has over 300 students, with the 11 a.m. at 180. To accommodate the influx of students, the University moved the combined class to Hubble Auditorium.
While some students have complained about the bigger class, Jaenike believes that class size is not that important when it comes to lecture based courses.

“Once you get over a hundred students, it really doesn’t make a difference how big the class is, just as long as the lecture hall is good,” he said.

However, some students take issue with Jaenike’s claims, particularly those in the 9 a.m. lecture who have found that they have to show up to class 30 minutes early to secure a seat.

As far as course content is concerned, the merge was made possible by the relative similarity in the 110 and 112 curriculums.

According to Jaenike, the courses are “not identical but 90 percent similar,” and the content they have covered so far has been more or less the same. BIO 112, which is designed for students who excelled in AP Biology in high school, is more rigorous, incorporating more math, more detailed exams, and lengthier readings, but fundamentally similar.

Still, students have to adjust to differences in teaching styles between Olek and Clark. Olek taught the course with more of a biochemistry approach and emphasized experimental modelling. Clark’s course follows the more traditional route.

“Olek’s course felt more like chemistry, while Clark’s definitely feels more like the biology I am comfortable with,” freshman Neha Jha said.

While many BIO 110 students are enthusiastic about the change, some BIO 112 students disagree that the merge was appropriate.

“With a big biology department and a massive teaching hospital, [UR] probably could have found someone else to teach intro biology,” freshman Eric Rice said.

Despite these complaints, the transition seems to otherwise be going smoothly.

“I expected to be getting hundreds of e-mails from students and parents complaining or seeking clarification, but that hasn’t been the case,” Jaenike said. “So far, the vast majority of students are taking it in stride and showing great maturity, which is good to see.”

McCoy is a member of the class of 2014.

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