Implications of the New Faculty Workload Policy

I am convinced that revising the faculty workload policy is absolutely necessary for FSU to become the kind of university we want to become. Effective, engaging, and innovative teaching is the single most important way that faculty help develop highly qualified graduates who will bring about the “…educational, social, cultural, and economic transformation of southeast North Carolina and beyond.”

Yet, faculty must also have time to devote to service and community engagement, research and creative activities, mentoring of students, and other professional development activities. The new policy establishes time for these non-instructional activities.

With this new policy, tenured and tenure-track faculty will teach six courses per year (18 credits) while full-time non-tenure-track faculty will teach eight courses per year (24 credits.) “Non-standard” instructional activities like supervising internships and directing dissertations will have to be translated into credit-hour equivalents for the purposes of implementing and monitoring teaching load.

The workload policy affirms the priority of teaching by indicating that faculty will spend approximately two-thirds of their time on instruction and instructional related work. At the same time, it reserves approximately one-third of faculty time for service and research/creative activities.

The new workload policy complements our procedures for faculty evaluation. At the beginning of each year faculty have the opportunity to specify their annual goals; these goals provide the basis for the end-of-year evaluation. By offering general guidelines for the percentage of time for teaching, service, and research/creative activities, the workload policy provides a foundation for setting realistic goals.

The new workload policies has significant implications for course reassignments and extra duty assignments for pay. Except for those funded by external grants, both will become very rare – for the following three reasons.

  1. Teaching four courses per semester leaves little time for other activities. Hence, course reassignments and extra duty pay were necessary to support non-instructional activity. By reducing the teaching requirement, faculty now have time for the activities for which they previously received course reassignments and extra-duty pay and which should be considered part of a faculty member’s normal responsibilities.
  2. The UNC Board of Governors’ (BoG) policy requires faculty at Master’s Comprehensive 1 institutions, like FSU, to teach six courses per year. So, previously we could reduce a faculty member’s teaching load without violating the BoG policy. Such is no longer the case.
  3. Finally, we cannot ignore the costs associated with the new policy. My rough estimate is that moving from a standard load of 4-4 to 3-3 for tenured and tenure-track faculty will cost about $600,000 a year. Additional course reassignments and extra-duty pay increase the costs of implementation.

For these reasons, I will be very skeptical about requests for any course reassignments or extra-duty contracts. (Except for those funded by external grants. Bring in those grant dollars if you want course releases or extra-duty pay!)

Next year will bring many challenges and unintended consequences of the new policy. I am confident that we can work together to address these issues so that we can realize the potential benefits of the new policy both for faculty members and FSU.