Colleges claim workloads up to par

By Peter Schuh

Editor’s Note: This is the third article in a three-part series focusing on a Faculty Senate report on faculty workload and course load. Various departments and programs have come under close scrutiny with the threat of academic surgery by the Board of Regents, where the report will be seen. Today’s piece addresses the colleges of education, engineering and visual and performing arts.

Officials in the Colleges of Education, Engineering and Visual and Performing Arts say their workloads are up to par in response to a report issued to the Faculty Senate concerning faculty course load and workload.

Issued by the FS’s Faculty Rights and Responsibilities Committee, the report suggests guidelines on how NIU should review faculty workloads in addition to detailing the maximum and minimum number of courses taught by NIU professors in the 1991-92 school year by department.

College deans have defended their workload policies.

In regard to his college, College of Education Dean Charles Stegman said, “Most of our professors teach three courses a semester. Some teach more and a few teach less.”

He said faculty members teaching less than the norm are doing so “because they have an administrative appointment or are bought out by a grant.” In general, only department chairs teach no courses during a semester.

In addition, Stegman said faculty members could receive a reduced load for laboratory direction and, on occasion, for research as non-tenured faculty.

Judith Bischoff, physical education department chair, said although her department tends not to use traditional three-hour courses, “the average for the department (faculty) is probably nine hours per semester. I have several faculty members who teach 12 hours.”

Romualdas Kasuba, dean of the College of Engineering, said, “Normally we operate on five or six courses (required of faculty) per academic year. If someone goes below five it has to be justified.”

Kasuba said justifications for a reduced course load would be either service to the college through “laboratory development” or an externally-funded grant which buys off teaching time.

“In engineering we are always updating our labs,” he said.

Allan O’Connor, associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said, “The guideline for our college is nine hours per semester. The departments have subscribed to the belief in a 12-hour teaching load, but it is standard to give faculty a three-hour reduction for purposes other than teaching.

“The college has a very strong belief toward teachers teaching. We do it. We don’t only say it.”

John Hancock Brooks Jr., theatre arts department chair, explained the reasons for a degree of ambiguity in his department’s teaching loads.

“Many of our acting courses are listed in the course book as three hours, but the contact hours (with students) is six hours a week.” He added, “The norm for the department is three courses per semester plus an assignment for research or creative project work such as theatrical productions.”

Several college officials noted the difference between course load and workload. They argued the two are not interchangeable and must be treated separately.