REASSIGNMENTS

Throughout its history UWGB has provided reassignments so that faculty members could undertake activities outside the classroom that have been considered worthy of support. In the past, there have been reassignments for administrative activities, course development, grant proposal development, research and writing, intern supervision, and in compensation for banked independent studies. (See Figure 5.) The more recent dwindling of our faculty numbers and increasing student population has meant the curtailment of all but a few reassignments for research, writing, and other professional activities. The short-lived banking system is no more (except apparently in Human Development). Further, as noted several times, the overextended nature of many programs has made it difficult for faculty members to take reassignments even when they are warranted.

The duties of chairs are many. Chairs oversee curriculum planning, course scheduling, personnel procedures (hiring, promotion, merit reviews), periodic program evaluations, student complaints, and special tasks like compiling this year’s CAPE statement. In addition some chairs, especially in the professional programs, are expected to take on considerable community contact activity. There is significant variation in the rate at which chairs receive compensation in reassignments for their efforts. (See Figure 6.) Many chairs receive 9 credits a year distributed between the two semesters as a reassignment. This means that a two course load per semester is possible. Some chairs, notably those of Social Work and Human Biology receive only one 3 credit reassignment a year. The chairs of Public and Environmental Administration, Information Sciences, and Natural and Applied Sciences each receive 6 credits a year. The lighter extreme is represented by Business Administration, the chair of which receives a 100% reassignment from teaching, and compensation with the equivalent of an ad hoc salary if he teaches. A 100% reassignment is supposed to accrue to the chair of Education as well, but the current occupant teaches about 50% because he has a split appointment with another unit. The Nursing chair should, by rights traditional in that unit, teach only 3 credits per semester, but instead teaches a 4.5 credit clinical course.

Budgetary unit chairs are not the only people who receive administrative reassignments, however. Some disciplinary unit chairs, particularly in the humanities and arts (with the exception of History and Philosophy), but also in Economics and Math, receive a 3 credit per year reassignment. The Area Coordinators in Business Administration receive 3 credit reassignments, as do coordinators of the graduate programs having academic homes in Public and Environmental Administration. Also individuals who carry out specialized tasks important to units, such as supervising interns, running language laboratories, overseeing the Richter Collection, or directing the Center for History and Social Change lecture series may receive reassignments.

Advising rarely is sometimes rewarded with reassignment. In Social Change and Development the advisor receives 3 credits for seeing all advisees, maintaining a local centralized computer database of students, keeping all advising materials up to date, and for developing and maintaining a presence on the Internet for the program. (The Social Change and Development advisor also serves as an advisor to the chair, and is usually acting chair in his/her place.) Urban and Regional Studies occasionally affords its advisor a reassignment, but not always. Humanities discipline chairs (most of whom receive releases) are expected to carry out advising duties. Several faculty members in nursing receive 3 credits each a year for advising activities, as does the faculty person in charge of advising Nutritional Science students. Notably in the Business Administration program, where the advising load is quite high, there is no compensation for carrying out this important task. Each faculty member receives a list of 3040 students to advise without reassignment (however one must also recall that no one with a regular faculty appointment in the program is (ideally) expected to teach more than 3 or 4 preparations a year).

Unfortunately, some programs have had to struggle to maintain even the administrative reassignments they once had. When the January Interim period ended, there was an effort on the part of administration to allow several programs only 6 credit reassignments for their chairs. This meant (and means for some programs) that chairs tried to carry out their duties while teaching three courses (or the equivalent) in a semester, which was a situation that had not held under the earlier regime because load could be distributed in the interim, as well as the semesters. Several programs have struggled for 9 credit assignments for their chairs to avoid this situation.

As noted in the prolog, UWGB expects continuing research and/or creative activity of its faculty. Those who are able to secure grants that provide released time are able to lighten their classroom loads for research or other special activities. Otherwise, there appears to be only one reassignment currently awarded on this campus for carrying out a research related professional duty, and that consists of a 3 credit, 3 year, reassignment in Social Change and Development for being book review editor for a major international journal. The only other reassignments that might be considered as promoting scholarship are those that fairly routinely go to incoming faculty to help them get started. There is typically a 3 credit reassignment during the first year.

In the past one could request a reassignment from the Research Council to develop a grant proposal, or perhaps to finish up the writing of a project. Some programs, at least, had a rotating research reassignment that one could plan upon coming around. Gone are the days when the university, through its budgetary units, provided some reassignments for new course or innovative teaching method development (although there remain opportunities to apply for grant support for such activities through the Undergraduate Teaching Improvement Council). In essence, faculty development activities are now expected either to come from faculty member’s hides alongside a heavy teaching load, or from grants received from outside sources (such as the National Science Foundation, or UTIC). The development of significant grant proposals is an extremely time consuming activity. To write a good National Science Foundation proposal, for instance, requires as much effort as writing a lengthy research article. Unfortunately, the university does not seem to support development of grant proposals through time off from teaching. Scholarly and creative work requires time and there is not always funding available from the outside to carry it out, especially in some areas of endeavor. It is also important to note that major federal sources of research funding are severely threatened in several areas. For instance, the National Endowment for the Humanities, which has supported a number of activities, both individual and collective, here on campus is under heavy attack from the right wing in Congress, and depending upon future election outcomes may altogether disappear. The loss of reassignments in support research and creative work on this campus is likely to greatly affect the expectation that people build continuing records in their fields, or carry out interesting interdisciplinary work.

PERCEIVED INEQUITIES

Besides the questions directed at unit chairs about reckoning load, overloads, and reassignments, the committee also asked questions directly aimed at eliciting thoughts about inequities in workload as perceived within units and across the campus, as well as general workload problems.

With respect to overall workload questions what emerges most clearly is large class size, especially at the lower level, but also increasingly in upper level courses. Everyone is aware that this campus consistently has the highest faculty/student ratios in the UW System and this does not build morale. There is also widespread feeling that large class size has created a pedagogical loss for lower level students, who no longer have as much direct contact with our faculty as they once did at this institution. In terms of workload quality, this may mean that for many who value teaching some kinds of more creative personal, and, indeed, enjoyable instruction has been replaced by the greater drudgery of handling masses in a oneway fashion. Further experimentation with mixed discussion/lecture formats such as have been adopted in Anthropology and Humanistic Studies, may help with this problem.

Some units -- largely in the social sciences and humanities -- still have resentments about the loss of the January Interim Program and the opportunity it provided for more evenly distributing a 21 credit load throughout the year. Facing 12 hours in the classroom during one semester has not been welcome, and some find that it overwhelms all their other activities.

Perceived inequities within programs include envy resulting from differences with respect to number of preparations, and over issues like driving time for site visits, or the burdens of keeping up that fall differentially upon instructors in fast changing areas such as computer science. In general, the interviews do not give the impression that envy over workload within the units is a serious problem, although some unit leaders were more candid about answering this question than others. In any case, perceived inequities within units should probably be addressed at that level.

There remain perceptions among faculty members in most units that their colleagues in other units somehow have it better. One unit chair commented that everyone is prone to a "grass-is-greener-mentality." Apparently, several unit chairs feel that their faculty are convinced that somewhere on campus individuals are benefiting from time reassigned from teaching to research and writing. Although this might have been true a few years ago, the committee could (as noted above) identify only one regular reassignment for such professional purposes besides the expectable lightening of load for incoming assistant professors. There is perceived inequity with respect to administrative reassignments, and quite a bit of actual variation, especially with respect to compensation for assuming the very time consuming and often frustrating position of chair of a budget unit. There is also a perception that reassignment for advising is fairly widespread, but this does not seem to be the case. Some faculty members in programs that are heavily involved in graduate education feel overworked with respect to those who are involved only with undergraduate education. Although some form of compensation is usually available to graduate student committee chairs, those who serve on the committees (and who may put in a great deal of work doing so) receive no recognition that this is part of their load. Some people feel that they are teaching greater numbers of students than are taught in other programs, but several unit chairs the committee interviewed felt that their faculty recognized that student/faculty ratio problems existed campuswide. Faculty who provide music instruction, studio courses, and scientific laboratories feel that their colleagues in other units may not appreciate the preparation time that goes into those activities, and especially in the sciences there is a strong conviction that our scientists are overburdened not so much with respect to UWGB colleagues, but to their counterparts elsewhere in the system where laboratory preparation is compensated at a higher rate. The sense that we at UWGB teach more than our counterparts at other campuses is widespread, and indeed there are departments elsewhere among the comprehensive campuses in the system where a 9 credit per semester load is the de facto if not the de jure expectation.

In most cases, supposed inequities either do not (or no longer) exist, are exaggerated, or are difficult at best to measure.

CONCLUSIONS

This committee’s conclusion from reviewing the interview data is that, although there are many aspects to the teaching load problem, there are three areas that might be addressed immediately in campuswide dialogs.

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