American Association of University Professors
University of Delaware Chapter

301 McDowell Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, DE  19716
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December 2002 aaUPBEAT

Details of UD's Workload Policy


There has been a good deal of faculty discussion recently concerning workload policies. Much of this discussion has been helpful. Faculty realize the importance of supporting the union's efforts to play a vital role in determining appropriate workload policy. Without such a union presence in the formation of workload policy, the process could easily degenerate into an Administration effort to increase workloads in the name of improving productivity.

Although much of the workload discussion has been valuable, it has also spawned some rumors. Consequently, we are devoting this issue of the newsletter to workload policy issues so that faculty can have an in-hand statement that details what is, and what isn't, true about current UD workload policy.

Before proceeding with our workload overview, we want to address one specific concern. Some faculty members' fear that the current collective bargaining agreement de-emphasizes research since, for example, if a faculty member teaches two courses in a semester the teaching must count as 50% of her/is workload, whereas previously in some departments faculty members who taught two courses per semester could reduce their teaching load to 40% of their workload and then add 10% to their research hours.

As spelled out in the policy ("Faculty Evaluation/Merit Assessment Option") that the AAUP recently negotiated with the Administration, faculty members are still free to vary when necessary their individual workload assignments in accordance with their special needs as researchers. It is true, however, that such variations in individual workload assignments must now be accomplished in specific ways.

To give one example, the policy document states:

"A faculty member on a 9-month academic year appointment may have a workload distribution of 50% teaching, 40% research scholarship, and 10% service. If the faculty member's request for a 2-month summer research program is approved and included in the workload plan, the revised workload distribution for purposes of evaluation would be 41% teaching, 51% scholarship/research, and 8% service."

This example shows how research can still make up a greater percent of one's workload than teaching if a faculty member is involved in a summer research project outside the 9-month academic year. Flexibility is still possible, albeit under slightly different circumstances than previously.

Such a change is more than offset by the workload policy's strengthening of the position of non-tenure track faculty who make up 25% of the total faculty. Non-tenure track faculty now have greater protection. This was achieved by specifying that non-tenure track faculty with non-administered workloads already have a 100% workload and therefore cannot be compelled to add more activities to their workload. This issue will be explained in more detail toward the end of the following section.

Workload Overview

A full workload at the University of Delaware consists of 12 credit contact hours or 18 teaching contact hours per week per semester.

However, to enable faculty members to do research and service, University policy (see III-D, Handbook for Faculty) has allowed departments to administer the required number of contact hours in such a way as to reduce faculty members' teaching loads in order to provide them with more time. For example, in many departments the teaching load is typically two courses per semester with the expectation that faculty with such a reduced teaching load will be involved in research or major service activities.

Until now, administered teaching loads have been allotted to a majority of UD's faculty without demands on departments that they increase the service or teaching duties of faculty members who do little or no research. Recent Administration statements indicate that from now on the Administration plans to be more vigorous in enforcing the administered workload policy. From the Administration's perspective, doing this effectively means that faculty who don't do much, if any, research must be compelled to either teach more or do more service.

This policy already has been in existence for years. It is based on the premise that at a research institution like UD, faculty are expected to perform research, teach and do service, and if the effort devoted to one area goes below the norm, then an increase in the effort in other areas is appropriate.

We are concerned about the possibility of a managerial, bottom-line approach to the administered workload policy. Our concerns arise from the Administration's tone in some of its recent workload statements. The Dean of Arts and Sciences, for instance, has admonished faculty by insisting that "not all faculty members in all units are equally productive in terms of their scholarship" and by warning departments that any department which doesn't produce an Administration-approved workload policy "will not be allowed to recruit any new faculty members." Such Administration willingness to pit faculty members against each other and to emphasize productivity in a confrontational way has a familiar ring to it: it is characterized by the same tone and emphasis as attempts in the corporate world to reinterpret existing workload policies in ways that increase the amount of work to be done.

Although the grievance procedure can be used to fight unfairly assigned workloads, the grievance procedure only works if there is a contractual basis for what is being grieved. Faculty must play an aggressive, strategically planned role in departmental meetings at which departments' workload metrics will be developed (see Article 11.2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement). The creation of well thought out metrics can help us, since in the past the absence of detailed departmental workload policies often has proved to be an obstacle to faculty members who wanted to grieve their workload assignments or merit allocation but were unable to do so successfully because the policies were too unspecific to challenge effectively. Since the deadline for developing departmental workload policies is the end of the spring semester, faculty members can't afford to lose any time getting involved in this process. Deans are already advising Chairs about what criteria they want included in these policies, and they are doing this without consulting the AAUP. However, since all workload policies must be prepared and adopted by the faculty of the department or unit in question and approved by the AAUP, faculty clearly have the opportunity to shape these policies in ways that address their needs. We urge faculty to consult with the AAUP before finalizing departmental workload policy decisions. The following three points are of special importance when working on your department or unit policies.

  1. Non-Tenure Track Faculty. Continuing non-tenure track faculty with non-administered workloads already have a 100% workload according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Consequently, any attempt to add service to their workload violates workload policy. In this instance, all activity that is routinely viewed as service when performed by tenure track faculty must also be considered service if performed by non-tenure track faculty. So, if a non-tenure track faculty member with a non-administered workload is compelled to perform such a service, he or she must be compensated either financially or, after a prescribed amount of such service has been performed, by a reduced workload. Every workload agreement should have a statement detailing how this is to be implemented.
  2. Research. The process for evaluating research need not be an exercise in bean counting. For example, a possible way to measure research is defined by the following example:
    Research expectation includes , among other things, the following: (1) writing a scholarly book, (2) acceptance of a paper in a refereed journal, (3) acceptance of a paper in a conference proceeding, (4) presentation of a plenary lecture at a conference. An acceptable research effort entails doing two of these four items per year, averaged over three years (e.g., two papers per year, one paper plus one plenary lecture per year, progress on a book for three years plus one paper during this period, etc.). Depending on quality, such an effort could be viewed not merely as fulfilling the research requirement, but as doing so in an outstanding way.
  3. External Funding. There is an Administration effort to define a successful research effort, particularly in science departments, as one that has external funding. The AAUP has strong reservations concerning such an explicit requirement. However, the inclusion of clauses like the following in workload policies would be acceptable: Success in obtaining external funding for research projects is considered important and such success will be included in a faculty member's research evaluation.
  4. Maintaining Your Current Workload Agreement if You Want To. According to Section 11.3 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is not necessary to revise your present individual workload agreement (except for the inclusion of a metric or if it violates the current Collective Bargaining Agreement). The creation of a departmental workload metric as described in Section 11.2 should of course be consistent with the metric described in Section 12.4 used by the Chair to determine merit pool allocations and can be quite simple, e.g. a two course load is 50% workload, an acceptable research effort is 25% of workload, and serving on one or more committees plus advising students represents satisfactory service and hence 25% of workload. These are only examples - each Department can decide what suits them best!

Merit Pool Allocation and Workload Policy

Departmental Chairs must submit criteria for merit pool allocation to the Dean by December 31. These criteria are to be based on current workload policy and must be ratified by the faculty. If a department's criteria prove to be inconsistent with the new departmental workload policies which are to be submitted on June 30, the criteria must then be modified to be consistent with the new workload policy.

Conclusion: Summarizing Workload Policy Context

The Collective Bargaining Agreement's key objective is to "improve the quality of education and to maintain the high standards of excellence at the University of Delaware." The review of workload policies by the academic units of the University required by the current Agreement should therefore provide an occasion for more fully realizing this objective in the research, teaching and service activities of faculty.

The most recent national AAUP review of policies ("AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, 2001) states that the AAUP "has observed in recent years a steady reduction of teaching loads in American colleges and universities noted for the effectiveness of their faculties in teaching and scholarship." In addition, national AAUP policy suggests that contemporary workload policies should recognize current developments in education that "emphasize independent study, the use of new materials and media, extracurricular and off-campus educational experiences, and interdisciplinary approaches to problems in contemporary society."

For faculty, the cumulative meaning of such insights is that it is in our group interest to shape workload policies in an organized way in order to guarantee that faculty needs and rights are respected during this time of change.

With regard to teaching, workload policies must enable faculty to develop meaningful mentoring relationships with individual students, have substantive face-to-face interactions with students in class, and develop innovative instructional approaches.

With regard to research, workload policies must recognize the varieties of research that faculty members engage in and the multiplying forms (as the result of electronic communications) of public distribution and publication in their disciplines.

Regarding service, a workload's service component must recognize the varieties of professional, University and community service activities provided by faculty.

Please remember that faculty members have the major responsibility for developing the workload policies for their departments or units. This places faculty in a position where by developing departmental metrics that reflect our group needs, we can position ourselves to protect ourselves more effectively in coming years. Whereas in the past it was often difficult to grieve workload policy violations because of the highly subjective nature of those policies, the development of departmental and unit workload policy documents by June 30 will help us, if we make the effort to clearly think out the issues before us, to implement hard and fast guidelines that the Administration must adhere to.

Two final points:

  1. Should there be an impasse due to a unit's workload policy not being approved by the Administration or the AAUP or both, the current workload policy will remain in effect, except that any elements of that policy that violate the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will have to be modified to conform to the Agreement.
  2. Individual workload agreements will continue to be negotiated between the individual faculty member and the chair within an approved workload policy of the department.

More information and guidelines on workload policies will be given in the February newsletter.

AAUP Election Results

For Union President, Linda Bucher with 200 votes (62.5% of the total) defeated Jim Raths who had 120 votes (37.5% of the total).

Also elected were Michael Zinn, Vice President (285 yes, 18 no), Sheldon D. Pollack, Treasurer (286 yes, 19 no), and Judy Van Name, Secretary (283 yes, 20 no).