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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blade Article on Teaching Loads

Article published June 23, 2009
University of Toledo board OKs revised policy on faculty work
Goal is to ensure time in classroom

The University of Toledo wants to make sure its faculty is spending time in the classroom and will keep better track of work loads next school year.

The UT board of trustees approved an update yesterday to the faculty work load policy. It requires that faculty members teach the equivalent of 12 credit hours a semester and authorizes the administration to designate what nonteaching activities can offset that amount.

A full-time teaching load of 12 credit hours could be four three-credit classes a semester. But because faculty work includes activities outside the classroom instruction time, not everyone teaches that many courses.

Those activities can include research, advising, supervising clinical students or graduate student research, and participating on committees.

Each college has definitions for what qualifies as counting toward the required 12 credit hours.

President Lloyd Jacobs said the policy is more about legitimizing those other activities than baby-sitting faculty.

"I want to be clear. … In my own belief a great majority, nearly all faculty members, are working hard and being productive," he said.

But UT's faculty union, the American Association of University Professors, has filed grievances over the administration's defining "research active" rather than negotiating with the union for an agreed-upon definition.

The board resolution approved yesterday cites the Ohio Revised Code section that states a university board of trustees will adopt a faculty work load policy and that the board's policy prevails over conflicting collective bargaining agreements.

Dr. Jacobs said the policy exists, but this update is "more specified, more qualified."

Although some may consider it micromanaging faculty work,

it's common in difficult times to centralize, he said.

The state of the economy has led to a policy under which the president must OK all hires, which also is micromanaging, but nobody has argued that, Dr. Jacobs noted.

"It's part of the general tightening up and accountability of our times," he said.

John Barrett, president of the UT Faculty Senate, said faculty members are concerned about the new workload process in part because the details haven't been worked out for individuals and they don't know how it will affect them.

Also, he said, faculty members work with department chairmen, who are knowledgeable about the subject the professors teach and what else they have on their plates. But further up the chain, the dean and the provost office, there is potential for disagreement about what is good use of faculty time, said Mr. Barrett, an associate professor of law.

"There is concern with the way the process has come about in some people's minds," he said.

UT Trustee Carroll Ashley suggested the language in the faculty workload policy be changed to up to 15 credit hours instead of 12, given the difficult economic situation and the chance that the university will have to do more with less if the state slashes UT's budget.

His amendment wasn't supported by the other trustees.

Mr. Barrett said that move would have been more of a show of power and would create ill will when it's not necessary.

"His proposal was premature," he said. "If the state radically changes the budget for UT, who knows what steps we'll have to take to change things. But let's cross that bridge when we come to it."

The economic recession is having an impact on the university's capital projects as well.

During the finance discussion part of the board meeting, the trustees were told that several projects are being put on hold.

Scott Scarborough, UT's senior vice president for finance and administration, listed those as a new intensive care unit, new pharmacy college building, a "digital campus" project to make hospital records electronic, and increasing wireless Internet access on campus.

The planning for the new pharmacy building will go forward, but none of the work to construct the building will be considered until the state budget shakes out, he said.

The trustees also approved creation of an Institute for Vehicular Business and Supply Chain Management and a new bachelor's degree in biochemistry.

The meeting was the last for UT trustees Rick Stansley and David Huey, whose terms expire July 1.

And UT Trustee Marvin Himmelein is resigning from the board for personal reasons.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:
or 419-724-6134.


Dr. Swifty said...

Spend time in the classroom? What on earth do they think we have been doing?

Oh, wait, I have heard of new faculty who taught ONE course in their first year, in addition to huge startup funds, but you can be sure that they were not in the humanities. I know of at least two of those profs who left after their first year. The rest of us have been performing full-time workloads which include teaching,advising, mentoring, independent studies (did you know that someone in history taught over a dozen independent studies in one year recently?)recruiting, extra-curricular activities such as student clubs, service, and oh yes, we still get our research done! For years now, we have been performing our full-time workloads as determined by our chairs who have the needed professional experience to best make such determinations. The recent resolution passed by the BOT giving Lloyd Jacobs the "authority" to determine workload is an insult to department chairs.

Ed Tech said...

No. The BOT resolution is intended to empower chairs to hammer down those pesky faculty nails that might rise up to protest unfair workloads. It is tenured and tenure/track faculty that are insulted by this Administration's blatant grandstanding at the expense of faculty professional dignity. T/t-t faculty know the contracted workload polities when they hire on. Faculty don't need the details of the contract paraded in public by a self-serving, mean-spirited administration that disrespects its tenured professoriate and seeks to do it harm.

yo, duh! said...

Not just to department chairs!

Rocky said...

Now, maybe I can get my workload reduced! Only 12 hours: WOW! What a deal! (In my dreams, right?)