Proposed bill may mean extra work for professors

Alicia Balog

Professors may have to teach an extra class over the next two academic years if a proposed bill passes through state legislature.

As part of Governor John Kasich’s Ohio House Bill 59, released February 12, the section of the Ohio Revised Code gives the board of trustees of all Ohio colleges and universities the decision to increase a professor’s workload by one course.

Eric Mansfield, executive director of university media relations, said the administration is keeping an eye on the bill, but without its approval, the university will not comment until it gets more information.

Deb Smith, associate philosophy professor and chair of the grievance committee of Kent State’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said the bill reflects a misunderstanding of the work faculty do.

“Right now, we have full-time non-tenure track faculty that have to teach five 3-credit classes a semester,” Smith said. “And these faculty are really taxed to the max to be able to design their courses, to be available for students when students need extra help, to have the time to actually grade assignments – assuming you don’t want to just give sort of mindless true-false or multiple choice tests.”

Smith said professors often work 50 to 60 hours a week in and out of the office and that she spends around two hours grading one paper.

Smith said another issue is faculty members who not only teach but also conduct research.

“If we have to teach another class, that is going to impact our ability to conduct research for the university and it’s going to impact our ability get the extra grants to fund our research,” she said.

According to the status report [LINK:], the Finance and Appropriations committee is assigned to examine the bill first. The bill has to be approved by Ohio Senate and House of Representatives before being sent to Kasich for final approval.

Smith said she thinks the bill has a chance of passing the legislature, but she said she hopes the university will not allow it.

“Even if it passed, Kent State, I would hope, would not amend their workload policy in that way,” Smith said. “They would recognize that it would interfere with our teaching mission and our research mission.”

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].