Thursday, October 11, 2007

Contemplating the Workload

Today, over at Reassigned time, Dr. Crazy has a post on the research, teaching, and service expectations at her university. They are quite different from the ones I face. Coincidentally, I was just discussing publication expectations for tenure with a colleague at Fellowship Institute. Again, very different.

So, I put the question to you: What are the expectations at your place of employment (and in your department) for research, teaching, and service. Is there a difference between junior and senior faculty (Dr. Crazy reports her senior colleagues "checking out" after tenure, and the junior faculty bearing the brunt of service work; this is again, vastly different from my own experience). If you're tenured faculty, do you think the expectations have changed markedly in the years since you arrived? And, most importantly: do you think the current expectations are reasonable, in the context of your own institution?

Here's my breakdown:

1. Teaching: Technically, 4-4; in reality, there are little ways to work this down, and in my department, I don't think anyone teaches more than 3-3, and many teach even less. 3-3 is my standard load, though I can usually swing a 3-2 every couple of years. In addition, any graduate advising that we may take on -- I generally have 2-3 M.A. students of my own at any given time, and serve on one or two other grad committees. The Americanists have it much harder: usually 8-12 students of their own, and as many again as secondary readers. Luckily, the college is working on ways to credit these students against the normal teaching load... something like 5 grad students (of your own) in any given semester = one course. Seems fair.

2. Research: My sense is that, right now, a book contract, or three peer-reviewed articles published after your hire date is enough to get tenure. But that expectation is vague, and shifting all the time. Most of the faculty hired in the last 15 years had a book contract when they went up for tenure; most (though certainly not all!) of those hired before then published less. Not surprising: up until recently, this was the "teaching school," so research was not expected, and not particularly valued. But recently, the "buyer's market" in Humanities hiring means that mid-level schools like mine have their pick of faculty from research institutions, and most of these came in with a research agenda they were excited about. So they just kept researching and writing, 4-4 (or 3-3) teaching load be damned.

I might also note that, while books are the norm for our faculty, very few have second books. That may just be a function of having so many faculty under 40. But the next five years or so will tell, I suspect.

3. Service: junior faculty are wonderfully protected -- a couple of department committees a year, and usually some college- or university-level service thrown in there for three of those first six years. Many committees, in fact, can only be served on by tenured (and sometimes even full!) professors. With a department that, until the past couple of years, has been seriously bottom-heavy, a small handful of tenured profs have been bearing the bulk of the department's service load. So, the nice thing here is that they have a vested interest in getting us young 'uns tenured!

I'm generally happy with this, though I'd love to have a permanent 3-2 teaching load. (And, as the Spanish say, "...y un jamón.")

That was longer than I thought it would be. How about you?


Belle said...

Good post & ideas! My place is a SLAC proud of its first tier status as a Master's granting institution. That doesn't keep us safe from 4/4 (except for the professional schools, who also screw up the salary comps).

Load: that's shifted in the past few years, especially so when we got a new dean that changed the tune from "4/4, lots of university service and oh yes, raises only on merit." We were, by the Provost's own figures, paying 60% of regional comps. So merit was a major button. The new dean stopped that nonsense, raised salaries to maybe 80-85% reg comps. He's also pushing for 3/4 load on a case by case basis.

Service: heavy, apparently. From my first year, at least two per year, plus advising, mentoring, student organization sponsoring, etc.. At the moment, I have 3 committees, two search committees, a dozen advisees, honor society sponsor, a fellowship selection committee. There is some talk about needing to expect less from new faculty. Like Dr Crazy, there are the disappearing fulls.

Publishing: fairly low expectations but always voiced support. Very little money or release time for writing/research. It's only been the last couple of years that sabbaticals were again available. What we do look for is "continued commitment to scholarship" evidenced by conference papers at the least.

We pride ourselves on our teaching, so the weight is supposedly 70-15-15. It routinely looks more like 80-15-5. And, if we were honest and could accurately reflect our reality: 95-10-5. My VPAA says we can't go over 100%, but of course we all feel we do.

Except the vanishing fulls, who do the 4/4 and very little else. As in don't show for committees, don't do anything re: advising except sign forms.

Anonymous said...

In terms of service, my first job was very much like what Dr. Crazy describes - junior faculty did a TON of service, partly because of demographics - there were lots of juniors, not very many associates, and a bunch of fulls, many of whom had done a lot of service in their time but were now content to coast (it was kind of a joke in my academic division that if you wanted advice on teaching, getting research done while teaching, getting tenure, etc., you went to an associate rather than a full).

Second Job was the opposite - junior faculty only had limited opportunities to serve on committees, as most of them were reserved for senior faculty (although some of those still had jrs on them... I never understood how that worked...). I did hear tenured faculty complaining a lot about the service load, although given that faculty governance was much weaker than at First Job, I tend to think overall the service burden was lower (but not making it to tenure there, I have to confess I can't prove that).

What actually counted as service, though, still baffles me, because when my contract wasn't renewed, I was dinged in service, told I had not been a "presence on campus" nor had I worked enough to develop medieval stuff for students, but my participation in a campus-wide committee (which the chair of the committee in fact told me wasn't expected till post-3rd-year review) was completely ignored, and my significant participation in a non-departmental program was noted, in a desultory way that showed it meant less than nothing. Um, yeah, bitter (and it's not like service would have saved me in that place, but I couldn't help coming away with the idea that service meant sucking up to the departmental sr. faculty. It became the category where they could talk about "fit" and "collegiality.")

Same thing happened to a friend of mine who went through 3rd year when I did - he had great teaching and research stats, but they dinged him on service, even though he'd arranged/participated in a bunch of talks/panels, got a guy in to give a talk, and had just been tapped to take over as chair American Studies. So what the hell they wanted in service there, I do not know) (sorry, that was long!).

Load: First Job was actually 3-2, and some years you got a 2-2 to make up for the work we did supervising senior projects, but the research expectations weren't onerous. Almost no one went up for tenure with a book - no one in my department ever had - and in fact, you were encouraged to write articles because the chance of getting them done/out before tenure was better than for a book. Most people in humanities probably had something between 4-6 articles or the like. (I can't say about the sciences.)

Second job: a 3-3 moving to a 3-2 this year, though smaller classes than First Job. Expectation was a book (everyone in the department had a book for tenure, though as you say, few second books - partly because they had no interest in whether you'd written the book on their clock, if you came in with a book they were delighted). The chair told me that people in the humanities *had* got through with articles, but the clear message was that that following that model would be very risky.

These schools were both SLACs very committed to being SLACs - there was no mission change/creep, they just wanted to be the best SLACs they could be. For Second Job, a lot of that was tied up in rankings/prestige (First Job was far enough off the radar that it played less of a role), and so faculty research was one of the ways they could up their prestige.

(You probably didn't want all that detail, sorry!)

Anonymous said...

Oh, in terms of breakdown, I think Second Job was 40% research, 40% teaching, and 20% service, though don't quote me on that. First Job gave us no official breakdown.

Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Here, we're in the process of moving to a 3/3 teaching load, but it will be a 4-5 year process (and as I've griped about elsewhere, it's been contentious as evidently the professional programs were already at this load and resented a temporary step backward for solidarity). But presently it's a 4/4. There are some ways around it, but so far, the best I've managed is a 4/3.

In terms of service, I was protected my first term, but after that, it's been intense. I advise a class of students each year (and they all have to come see me to agree on schedules - if someone goes on sabbatical it goes up), I serve on three intensive committees, I run the department web site, have developed new classes, have to serve at university events such as open houses, and have been tapped to serve as faculty adviser for a student group.

The research stipulations aren't spelled out clearly anywhere. It seems to be 1-2 articles per year, though this seems new. There is very little research support - competitive summer grants that disproportionately go to tenured faculty members - and little money for travel.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Supposedly about 40-30-30. But who knows. At least one article in a peer-reviewed journal in press for the 'equivalent' of tenure. Normal load is 4-4 if you are trying to emphasize teaching, 4-3 if you are on the "research track." Junior faculty who are pegged as people they want to keep are generally put on important committees. Some senior faculty disappear as soon as they can from service, others pull way more than their fair share. Many of our senior faculty have never published.

No merit increases, but people who write more and do more service do seem to get a bit more support for conferences. Me, I was on a search committee my first year, and a Big Important committee. Still on that, and I teach two LD service courses, one UD service course, one UD topics course, and a freshman seminar (so I have 15 advisees). Plus two more committees, one in the college, one university-wide.