American Association of University Professors
University of Delaware Chapter

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February 2003 aaUPBEAT

The Workload Controversy
What's Happening

Workload Policies and the Reserach or Teaching Debate

For many years there has been a debate between those who believe UD should be viewed (as it was until relatively recently) primarily as an undergraduate teaching institution and those who see UD as a research university, albeit one with a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.

While the various participants in this debate always extol the virtues of both teaching and research, it nonetheless remains true that the differences are substantive and often lead to opposing conclusions concerning UD's higher education goals.

The current effort by the Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Science to systematically increase teaching loads is part of this ongoing controversy. If implemented, the probable long range effect of the Administration's approach will be a University more like it was in the past: an institution that under emphasizes research and has a faculty salary scale that reflects this orientation.

Regarding the supposed teaching/research conflict, it is important for faculty to understand that the AAUP doesn't look at this as a true dichotomy. At a research university such as UD, excellence in both teaching and research should be strived for and both must be properly rewarded and respected by the Administration. In particular, heavy handed bureaucratic solutions to workload problems should be avoided and such problems instead should be resolved as they are resolved at other research universities: in a case by case manner as they arise within a department.

The Administration's Attempt to Impose Workload Policies

The nation's major research universities do not try to enforce workload policies like the UD Administration is currently attempting to do. Dean Huddleston has been at the forefront of this drive to implement, without consulting the faculty, a workload policy that departs from current practices and that violates the AAUP's previous understanding with the Administration regarding workload policy.

In a December memo sent to chairs in the College of Arts and Science, Dean Huddleston stressed a number of the Administration's workload policy goals. By and large these goals sounded more like a Ford Motors' plan to make its assembly line workers perform more labor per hour than a university's plan to improve education.

In this regard, Huddleston stressed a number of points, including:

  • "Inflated" department faculties that needed cutting.
  • The Administration's view that UD must "deploy our fulltime faculty resources in ways" that increase productivity by upping workloads.

Although the Dean mentioned that his concern with these issues grew out of the possibility that the College of Arts and Science might have a deficit of $600,000 in 2003, he failed to mention in his memo to chairs that part of the basis for this possible deficit was created by an accounting error in the College of Arts and Science and isn't traceable to faculty workloads, department sizes or any other such issue. Yet in spite of this reality, Dean Huddleston, following the corporate model, supports the notion that UD faculty like workers in other "industries" must bail out management by making concessions when management policies go awry. So, what the Dean wants at the moment is for faculty to accept greater workloads without a whimper.

Fortunately for faculty members, we have protections against this happening.

Protection #1: No department can submit proposed workload policy changes unless the changes are approved by the department's faculty. The AAUP negotiated this faculty right precisely so faculty will have greater control over departmental workload policies.

Protection #2: According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, no workload policy changes can be implemented by the Administration without AAUP approval. The AAUP fought for and won this power for exactly the kind of situation we are now discussing. When the Administration tries to coerce departments into rewriting their workload policies, faculty should be aware that the union possesses the contractual tools to veto the Administration's attempt to do so.

Protection #3: Faculty can defend against illegitimate workload increases by making sure their workload agreements contain all of the work for which they are supposed to be given credit - not only courses and teaching, but also time given to things like independent studies for theses and dissertations. A thorough itemization of the work you do will weaken any Administration efforts to add to your workload.

Dean Huddleston's December Memo and its Implications for Current Faculty and the Future of UD

If the Administration gets away with implementing its new approach to workload policy, a policy which is at odds with those at the nation's leading research universities, its success in doing so will signal to the rest of the world that UD no longer wishes to be considered among the U.S.'s top research institutions. Not only would this damage our ability to compete for new faculty, it also would lower, over the long haul, faculty attempts to hold our own salary wise vis a vis other higher education institutions in our comparator group.

There's no need for this to happen. The Administration's efforts to forcibly increase teaching loads creates a false teaching vs. research dynamic and is self defeating; it also violates the Administration's supposed spirit of cooperation with the AAUP. As we stated above, UD's present workload policy already gives departments the flexibility to deal with the specific needs of each individual faculty member in terms of her/his balance in teaching, research and service. Given this flexibility, which is rooted in a case by case approach at the departmental level, the Administration's heavy handed effort to force increased teaching loads is clearly motivated by concerns other than educational ones. Such Administration concerns spring from a corporate approach to increasing "worker productivity" by increasing workloads and minimizing the need to hire more people.

This is unacceptable to the AAUP on two levels.

First, as already stated, the mechanisms for handling individual workload situations are already in place and therefore no new policies are necessary.

Second, the Administration's disregard for its existing workload policy understanding with the AAUP is disturbing in that it raises the question of trust. The Administration chose not to emphasize its true aims in an open way during discussions with the AAUP but rather chose to achieve its goals by more covert means. Dean Huddleston's December memo, with its workload policy points that hadn't previously been discussed with the AAUP, was a clear attempt to circumvent the AAUP by organizing department chairs around the principle that the Administration reserves the right to act unilaterally if it thinks it can get away with doing so. The fact that elected AAUP officers were not allowed to attend a "chairs' caucus" at which a workload policy discussion occurred is further evidence of the Administration's desire to ignore faculty in this matter.

Fortunately, if faculty members stick to the three "protection points" itemized at the end of the previous section, the Administration will have a difficult time forcing increased workloads.

A persuasive argument can be made that provoking a controversy over increasing faculty workloads is part of an Administration attempt to obscure the real issue: the University's need for more faculty to handle the mounting instructional, guidance and research needs of UD's student body. Faculty can't afford to forget the Administration's public commitment to hire tenure track faculty to meet the University's teaching needs.

Unfortunately, the Administration's aim appears to be to meet teaching needs not by hiring new faculty but rather by increasing the teaching loads of existing faculty.

Special One-time Faculty Incentive Retirement Program--Deadline is June 30, 2003

Faculty who are considering retiring from the University in the near future have until June 30, 2003 to sign an intent to retire agreement. Signing by that time will make a retiring faculty member eligible for the special incentive program that was negotiated by the AAUP and Administration.

Facts that you should know about the incentive program include:

  • Fulltime faculty members who sign the intent to retire agreement by the date mentioned above are eligible for the incentive program just as long as their effective retirement date is no later than June 30, 2005.
  • Fulltime faculty who previously signed a retirement agreement with an effective retirement date between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2005 are also eligible to participate in the incentive program.
  • For eligible faculty, the University will contribute 11% of the final base salary to the faculty member's TIAAS/CREF or Fidelity retirement account for an additional two years after the effective date of retirement.
  • This one time retirement incentive program will not be available, or otherwise apply, to any fulltime faculty member who does not sign an intent to retire agreement on or before June 30, 2003.

AAUP Cosponsors Symposium on Law, Unions and the Modern University

The AAUP and Legal Studies Program of the University of Delaware will cosponsor a symposium on Law, Unions and the Modern University" at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5, 2003 in Purnell 115. Speaking will be a team of labor lawyers from the prominent Philadelphia law firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews and Ingersoll, LLP. These lawyers were involved in recent labor negotiations at Cornell, Temple and Penn involving faculty workloads, student rights, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, and efforts to unionize graduate students. Following their March 5 presentation, the lawyers will respond to questions from a panel of UD faculty, including an AAUP representative. There also will be time for questions from the audience. Faculty, students and administrators are invited to attend. Refreshments will follow.

Do Not Reivse Departmental Workload Agreements without Reading this Issue of the Upbeat First

Introductory Note: Given the threats made by Dean of the College of Arts and Science in his recent memo, it is important that no workload policies be developed by faculty without first familiarizing yourself with (a) the Administration's goals in this matter and (b) the faculty's power, under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, to protect itself from Administration attempts to systematically increase workloads.

Unless you want your workload unnecessarily increased, read this edition of the Upbeat before participating in your department's development of a written workload policy.

Executive Council Statement on Workload Policy

Introduction: The following statement was drafted by David Colton, the union's chief negotiator, then discussed and approved by the Executive Council. According to Colton and other bargaining team members, the Administration's current effort to increase workloads has nothing to do with what was agreed upon during the most recent AAUP Administration negotiations regarding workload policy.

A December 2 memo from the Dean of Arts and Sciences to the chairs in the College suggests that the Administration intends to increase teaching loads in an effort to overcome budgetary problems. The memo further threatened departments with no new faculty positions if the Administration's guidelines on workload policy are not followed.

These Administration objectives are strongly opposed by the AAUP and are contrary to both the intent and spirit of the recently negotiated workload agreements. If the Administration's efforts are successful, this will create a two tier system of tenure track faculty which, as stated in the December Upbeat, is in the opposite direction taken today by major U.S. research universities. Such an outcome would devalue UD's research image and seriously affect our ability to recruit new faculty.

The AAUP emphasizes that the metrics and/or guidelines required in the Collective Bargaining Agreement under Articles 11.2 and 12.4 were designed to prevent arbitrary increases in teaching or service by chairs claiming that individual faculty members' research was insufficient. A metric and/or guidelines for service and research allow individual faculty to have a rational basis for deciding a workload division appropriate to them (including the possibility of an increased teaching load if so desired by the faculty member). Articles 11.2 and 12.4 were not intended as a mechanism for the Administration to create a systematic two tier framework for tenure track faculty in an effort to increase productivity during a period of budgetary difficulties

Therefore, until this conflict between the Administration and AAUP concerning the purpose of revising workload policies is resolved, the AAUP will:

  1. Instruct the AAUP Contract Maintenance Officer to approve no new workload policies, and
  2. Request faculty to consider increased service (especially AAUP service as covered under Article 5.12 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement) as an alternative to increased teaching workloads. The opportunity for AAUP service will certainly increase if the issues between the Administration and the AAUP remain unresolved.