HOLD Teaching loads fair despite changes in faculty

Olivia Minnier

In recent times, it has not become uncommon for legislatures and others to question the workload of faculty members. With the UW-Madison chancellor coming under fire for practices regarding workloads, other universities such as Columbia and Missouri are starting to be investigated as well.

Here at Kent State, workloads for faculty appear to be fair and in ordnance with regulations. Though it should be noted that the load for a professor has not drastically changed over time, even though the faculty makeup has.

A teaching load or workload is the amount of classes a professor teaches. This varies depending on the tenure of the professor and whether or not they are full time or part time.

The official university policy states that full time professors are required to have a certain workload, which is divided between teaching, research, seminars and other similar things.

“Their teaching load shall be the equivalent of twenty-four credit hours per academic year and shall include formal class teaching and appropriate teaching credit for advising of individual investigations, seminars, research, theses, and dissertations.”

The policy also states that “full time temporary faculty are assigned teaching responsibilities which total fifteen credit hours per semester.

Generally, this means that full time tenure track faculty should be working the equivalent of four courses a semester and for full time non tenure track faculty this is five courses, said Provost Todd Diacon.

Sometimes a professor’s load will change to less than that if they are engaged in research or heavily involved in their department.

“One of the primary reasons you would teach less than four courses a semester if you are a tenure stream faculty member would be that you are engaged in research,” said Diacon.

According to records obtained by The Kent Stater, the makeup of the university faculty has been changing with time. The total number of full time tenure track faculty decreased by 11% on the Kent campus from the 2008-9 school year to the 2014-15 school year. This explains the overall increase in hours taught per faculty member on the Kent campus by 19% during this period.

Additionally, the number of non-tenure track faculty has increased by 55% from 2008-9 to 2014-15, which resulted in an increase of average hours being taught by 2%.

However, this does not mean that the workload has changed over time or been made unfair because of these figures.

“I’ve not seen systematic changes in faculty workload over time,” said Cathy Dubois, associate dean for the College of Business Administration.

Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, associate professor of history also said that she feels her workload is very fair in the time that she has been at Kent State. She cannot recall any period where she felt inexplicably overwhelmed or under large amounts of stress.

“It’s an attempt to balanced in terms of what are the components of your job,” she said.   

For Smith-Pryor, her time is divided between teaching both undergraduate and graduate students, her research and being on various committees within her department.

“Each week is probably a little bit different in terms of the amount of time you’re putting into different things,” she said.

Students also are not oblivious to the amount of effort and time that their professors put into their work.

Madison Gulfo, a freshman musical theater major said she noticed difference in the stress levels between the teachers in her major and her core classes, noting that her core class professors appeared to be under more pressure.

“Not my professors in my major, but my core classes definitely,” said Gulfo.

Gulfo gave the specific example of her professor in her psychology class as being especially stressed.  

“I definitely notice teachers talking about how many papers they have to grade especially in my psychology class,” she said.

This is the first of a two part series from the administration team.

Olivia is an administration reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected].