Possible change could hamper faculty freedom


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Faculty could find their time more strictly regulated under a new policy the UI Faculty Council considered on Tuesday.

A change in the Post-Tenure Effort Allocation Policy would give UI deans the power to make decisions about how faculty divide their time among teaching, research, and service. The policy change would also create an advisory committee to aid in those decisions. The policy’s goal is to involve faculty who aren’t “pulling their weight” in their unit or department, said UI Faculty Council President David Drake.

Faculty currently develop guidelines within each unit as a basis for the amount of work and scholarship expected from each member.

If the head of the department, or someone else in the department, does not think faculty members are meeting those expectations, they may ask them to change the amount of effort they put toward each goal. In other words, if someone thinks faculty are not putting enough effort toward their research, they can suggest dedicating more time to teaching.

But sometimes, faculty members don’t want to change their schedule, and the policy change allows the department dean to make the final decision on how faculty spend their time. The dean would be advised by the Dean’s Advisory Group, a standing council of at least three tenured full professors who would be elected by faculty.

The faculty member could appeal to the provost, who would make the final decision on time allocation.

Drake, who said he supports the policy, was adamant that a only small minority of professors would be affected by the policy, noting that most professors work extremely hard.

Opinion among the Faculty Council was mixed, with some councilors praising the progressive approach to dealing with faculty who fail to meet standards, and others condemning the way in which the policy might force faculty into classes they are unqualified to teach.

Law Professor Sheldon Kurtz said simply requiring teachers to take on more classes doesn’t make up for a lack of research or professors not meeting standards.

“To say ‘teach more’ doesn’t really address the problem,” he said. “Our No. 1 responsibility is teaching, not scholarship.”

English Associate Professor Teresa Mangum, who isn’t in favor the policy change, said the alteration strayed too far from the policy’s original intent. The real issues go beyond a simple policy change, she said, calling for a “change of culture” in which the punitive connotations of an increased course load is removed and professors begin to think of it as an “honor to teach.”

History Professor Katherine Tachau said the goal of the policy is not to punish teachers but to shift their focus from research to teaching.

“What this really is designed to do is get people in the classroom,” she said.

The council made no decision on the policy, concluding it needed further revision and review before being put to a vote.

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