Newsletter bannerREPORT ON FACULTY TEACHING LOAD ISSUES

Copies of the following exchange of information were received by members of the TTU AAUP chapter at the meeting on April 28, 2008, and endorsed for wider dissemination:

Query
From:   Professor John Howe, TTU AAUP President
To:    Professor Richard McGlynn, Former Head of the TTU Workload Policy Committee

Dear Dick,
            In the recent discussions of the report on faculty teaching loads produced by Corky Dragoo for Chancellor Kent Hance, the present teaching load policy (OP 32.18) has been characterized as lacking clarity and flexibility.  Although I was a part of the committee that helped to draft this policy, you were the Chair.  You may have the best “institutional memory” on its origins.
            Prior to your retirement this May, would you please leave us with a few words about this policy, about what it does and does not do? 
                                                With many thanks, John

Response
From:  Professor Richard McGlynn 

Dear John, 

Because I chaired the Workload Policy Committee in 1997 – 1999 that wrote the current OP 32.18 dealing with teaching load (synonymous with the Regent’s Rule 04.07 on the same topic), I have been asked to explain the current policy and its development. In doing so, I want to address what I believe are misconceptions about the policy.

Provost Burns convened a committee in 1997 to write a workload policy with greater flexibility than was permitted under the then current rules. The major reason for the formation of the committee was the “99-hour rule” that was mandated by the legislature. The rule resulted in a restriction on graduate student credit hours and a consequent reduction in teaching load credit for directing graduate students. A revised policy was written by our committee and was lightly edited by Provost Burns and President Schmidly. It went into effect in 2000. A copy of the final report of that committee is attached. 

In recent discussions, I have found seven assertions about workload policy at Texas Tech that are inconsistent with the actual written document and/or with what I learned about the subject over the course of two years of studying it. Most of these assertion are explicit. Once these issues are clarified, I believe it shows that the current policy serves the goals that have been laid out for a new policy, particularly with regard to clarity and flexibility.

Assertion #1: The policy requires 9 hours of teaching per semester.
            Actually, consistent with state law and Coordinating Board rules, it requires 18 hrs. of teaching or equivalent credit per year. The yearly cycle gives the policy a great deal of flexibility that is not appreciated and, as far as I know, little used. A typical 3 credit hour course earns 3 teaching load credits. The rest of the lengthy document spells out other teaching and non-teaching activities that earn teaching load equivalents, e.g., more credit is assigned for large classes or writing intensive courses, credit is assigned for directing graduate students, credit may be allowed for editing a major journal or for extraordinary involvement in research or administration, etc. 

Assertion  #2: The policy requires a certain number of courses.
            Actually, consistent with state law, the policy deals with teaching load equivalents. It does not specify a minimum number of classroom hours or courses. The lone exception is that it states that approval of the provost is required if a faculty member has fewer than 2 organized courses per year.

Assertion  #3: There is more release time than the rules allow.
            Actually, there is no restriction that states that a faculty member can be released from only 3 hours of teaching per semester. In fact, the policy does not use the term "release time" at all. The whole policy is cast in terms of "teaching load equivalents” and was designed only to define minimum loads as required by the Coordinating Board. This was a very deliberate decision and it took our committee almost a year to finally agree on this concept. Importantly, the teaching load equivalents are additive and one can earn equivalents in a large number of categories. It was understood that most faculty members would, in theory, earn many more credits than the required minimum if all provisions were applied. Consequently, the preamble to the policy vests the authority for workload assignment, in practice, in the deans and unit heads. These administrators are charged to assign workload to faculty equitably such that the university meets its obligation to teach its curriculum. In practice, this system allows differences in workload distribution in different disciplines that have different profiles of faculty activities. Indeed, many colleges as well as individual units within the university have policies on workload that do just that. This decentralized approach is efficient and has been well accepted. In sum, the reality is that there is much more teaching than the policy requires.

Assertion  #4: When not in a classroom, faculty members are not teaching.
           
Apparently – this is not totally clear - in the calculations related to release time that were made public, activities such as individual study, mentoring graduate students in 5001 and 7000/8000 courses, and directing dissertations were not considered as "teaching" but as "release time" from teaching. These activities certainly are teaching at any kind of institution, but especially in a research university. Moreover, these teaching activities, particularly if they involve doctoral students, often generate much more state revenue for the university than teaching a 3-hour undergraduate course.

Assertion  #5: A new policy can be written by the end of May or over the summer.
            Actually, the policy that is being replaced took 29 meetings and two years to write. Even at that, it was not easy. It is nearly impossible to take the varied activities of Music faculty and fit them into the same formulae as the activities of Industrial Engineering, English, and Architecture faculty. To learn about how our colleagues in all the different disciplines on this diverse campus allocate their time, our committee had to consult with and interview faculty and unit heads from around the campus and conducted surveys of unit heads. It would not be possible for a committee to consult all the people on campus with relevant, specialized knowledge in anything close to the proposed time frame. The practical knowledge of actual workers is essential in this task and it was fortunate that provost Burns assigned the job to a diverse group of experienced faculty members including department chairs and ex-chairs. This cannot be a top down process as our committee learned by hard experience. 

Assertion #6: The policy is outdated.
            Actually, the policy as it exists has been a success. President Schmidly had been frustrated as Dean of the Graduate School by the unnecessary restrictions of the old policy and encouraged our committee after he became President to continue our work to produce a flexible policy befitting a research university. We consulted workload policies from many universities across the nation in the process, including our sister schools in Texas. The resulting policy incorporated many of the best features of other policies and it explicitly allows different people to make different kinds of contributions. That was a major reason for rewriting the policy in the first place. Every policy is, and ought to be, reviewed on a regular cycle and changes need to be made to remedy clearly defined problems. Because of its great flexibility, the current policy is unlikely to cause problems such as the cost of instruction. Its implementation may be a cause of problems. The current workload policy should be reviewed with the understanding that it is a minimum workload policy, not a normative or maximum workload policy. 

Assertion #7: The policy ties the hands of administrators.
            The preamble to the policy clearly states that teaching assignments are made at the discretion of unit heads and deans in order that the university may fulfill its obligation to cover the curriculum. Although approved by a committee largely composed of faculty, the wording in the preamble to the OP technically puts faculty at a huge disadvantage. In the extreme, the policy allows deans and unit heads to assign any number of courses they deem necessary to any faculty member. If the issue of faculty workload is opened up, particularly in the current climate, the spirit of trust and mutual respect that was the basis of the development of the current policy may be undermined and the faculty may rightly demand a policy that specifies maximum workloads. Our committee experience suggests that this will involve generating endless lists of all the things faculty do in their documented 50-60 hours average per week work on behalf of the university and a demand for workload credit to account for the overload. One of the reasons it took so long to write the current policy in 1997-1999 was that it took so long to convince many committee members that this approach was a dead end. Once trust is undermined, faculty may be less likely to be so conciliatory again.  

On a closely related matter, there has been no recognition that President Lawless in 1995 proposed solving the university's budget problems by having each faculty member teach an extra course per year. The idea was that the savings generated would go toward improving faculty salaries. At the president’s behest, Provost Haragan commissioned a Taskforce on Faculty Productivity, on which I also served, which produced a report on increasing faculty productivity. If this document can be located, it might be worthwhile reading. It may well obviate the need to further encroach on the valuable time of faculty and administrators to produce another report on the same subject. The report's major conclusion was that the only way to increase faculty productivity was to provide more support to faculty in their various endeavors. Despite the incentive of higher salaries, the committee believed that increasing teaching loads would be counterproductive. President Lawless evidently accepted these conclusions.

I hope I have helped preserve a bit of important institutional memory that will both defuse the current controversy and allow everyone to avoid spending time going over ground that has already been well worked.

                                                                            Sincerely, 

                                                                            Richard P. McGlynn
                                                                            Professor of Psychology
                                                                            Texas Tech University
                                                                            Box 42051
                                                                            Lubbock, TX 79409-2051
                                                                            Phone 806-742-3711 x255
                                                                            Fax 806-742-0818
                                                                            r.mcglynn@ttu.edu

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Attachment: 1999 Committee Report

Report of the
Faculty Workload Policy Committee
April 30, 1999

Background

            Charge:  The committee was formed by Provost John Burns on June 13, 1997 with a charge to "make recommendations regarding revision of the Texas Tech faculty workload policy".  

            Membership.  The committee convened by the Provost on September 5, 1997 consisted of Vivien Allen (Agriculture), Edward Anderson (Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center), Sue Couch (Human Sciences), Edward George (Faculty Senate President), John Howe (A&S), Richard McGlynn (A&S), Kishor Mehta (Engineering), Janet Perez (Graduate School), and William Sparkman (Education).  James Brink represented the Provost's Office.  Before the committee completed its work Norman Hopper (Agriculture) replaced Allen, Tim Floyd (Faculty Senate President) replaced George, Peggy Johnson (Education) replaced Sparkman, and Elizabeth Hall (Provost's Office) replaced Brink.  At the  second meeting on October 16, 1997, McGlynn was elected chair of the committee, and Brink was accorded full membership (as was Hall on March 10, 1998).
 

Resources

            Documents:  The major documents considered by the committee in the course of its work included: (1) workload policy statements from Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, University of California-Davis, University of Colorado, University of North Texas, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, (2) the report of the Faculty Productivity Task Force (1995),  (3) report of the Faculty Senate Faculty Performance Committee (1995), and (4) the report of the Strategic Planning Committee for Research (1997). 

            Presentations:  The committee listened to a presentation by David Schmidly, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies on March 10, 1998, and met with Wayne Bailey, Director of the School of Music, and Terry Morrow, of the Department of Art on April 7, 1998.

            Survey Data:  In February and March, 1998, a survey of unit heads (department chairs, area coordinators, school directors) was conducted.  Numerical results of the survey and written comments are included with this report.
 

Major Issues Considered by the Committee

             At the first of 29 meetings of the committee, Provost Burns elaborated on his charge by noting problems with the current policy (OP 32.18): (a) it is too restrictive and does not credit faculty for what they are doing; (b) distance education is not incorporated in the policy; and (c) the policy may not fully credit the direction of graduate students under the 99 hour rule for funding doctoral hours.

            The committee first determined what legal requirements constrained its charge.  The most important is that the Texas Education Code requires a minimum faculty workload of 18 semester credit hours per academic year.  This precluded the possibility of developing a workload policy on some other basis (e.g., courses, clock hours or percentage time, or some arbitrarily defined "unit") or a policy that does not credit activities in terms equivalent to semester credit hours.

            After lengthy discussion and consideration of workload polices at other institutions, the committee agreed that there were two separate tasks in defining workload.  The first was to develop a formula for the calculation of the minimum teaching load for each faculty member that must be reported annually to the Coordinating Board.  The second was to define workload more inclusively for purposes of tenure, promotion, merit raises, university awards, and faculty performance reviews.  It was decided to take up the minimum teaching load task first.  The remainder of this report addresses that issue and only that issue.  To emphasize this bifurcation, the committee changed the name of its recommended revision of OP 32.18 from "Academic Workload" to "Teaching Load Calculation".

            The survey of unit heads revealed that those most directly responsible for administering OP 32.18 also disagreed about whether it represented a narrow minimum teaching load formula or a comprehensive workload policy.  Moreover, a number of unit heads were unaware of some of the flexibility that exists within the current policy.  Even so, there was overwhelming support for a revised policy that would be more flexible and give faculty more credit against teaching loads for a greater variety of activities.

            The committee considered numerous issues and a variety of perspectives on most of the individual items in the policy, but the items that consumed the greatest amount of time were those involving teaching load credit for directing theses and dissertations.  There are two basic approaches.  One credits research mentors based on semester credit hours (cf. UT) and the other credits them based on head count (cf. TAMU).  Under the 99-hour rule, either approach might give insufficient teaching credit for these activities.  In the end, the committee adopted an approach that allows credit to be awarded on either basis.
 

Recommendations

1. The committee recommends the adoption of the attached Proposed OP on "Teaching Load Calculation"

2. The committee recommends that unit heads, faculty, and administrators be specifically informed of the narrow purpose of OP 32.18 as described in items (1) and (2) of the proposed revision.
 

Attachments

Proposed OP on "Teaching Load Calculation"

Comparative Workload Policies

Survey of Unit Heads: Numerical Responses

Survey of Unit Heads: Annotations

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