Faculty Workload Policies and Annual Evaluations

SUMMARY OF ACTION NEEDED:

  1. Department chairs and deans should determine whether or not each unit has an existing formal faculty workload policy.
    1. If a formal policy exists, it should be submitted to the appropriate Dean for review by December 16, 2016.
    2. If no formal policy exists, departments/divisions must develop a workload policy and submit it to the appropriate Dean for review and approval. 
    3. Deans should set deadlines for receipt of workload policies that allow for sufficient time for review, revision, and approval prior to submission to the Provost’s office.
    4. Workload policies approved by each Dean are due to the Provost’s office for review on or before May 1, 2017. 
  2. Deans should review and approve unit processes for annual review of faculty before the next cycle of annual reviews commences in 2017.

Effective deployment of the talents and expertise of our faculty is critical to Mizzou’s success, and every faculty member plays an important role in our continuous pursuit of excellence and discovery.  Clear, transparent, and flexible workload policies are essential to distinguishing ourselves as an AAU land grant university.

The University of Missouri System has instructed each campus to develop and implement campus-wide and department policy guidelines for faculty workload assignments (see attached letter from Interim President Middleton). As you know, earlier this year a system-wide Instructional Workload Task Force issued its report on faculty instructional workload reallocations, followed by a set of policy guidelines for individual departments and units to use when granting instructional workload adjustments for faculty (see attached reports). It is clear that our workload policies “should address both the need to ensure faculty are engaged in the classroom and to provide for differential teaching loads based on research productivity” (see Middleton’s letter, attached).

The latest initiative to address faculty workload assignments was in part prompted by a bill filed in last year’s legislative session that would have granted authority to approve variations in faculty workload distributions to an external review panel. Fortunately, we were able to persuade the sponsor of this bill that such legislative action was not needed and that decisions related to faculty workload assignments could be most effectively addressed at the campus level. Now, consistent with our Collected Rules and Regulations (CR&Rs), it is imperative that we develop a clear campus policy and associated procedures for faculty workloads that allow us to most effectively fulfill the broad mission of the University of Missouri – which includes excellence in research, teaching and service – and also allow for variable workload assignments that reflect the strengths and productivity of individual faculty members.

I was especially pleased that the Instructional Workload Task Force report and subsequent procedures for implementing instructional workload adjustments acknowledge the need for flexibility in teaching load assignments, particularly for a research-intensive institution such as ours. As the report states, our approach to instructional workload and policies for instructional reallocation “should not endorse a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach for all faculty, but should provide the flexibility to allow faculty talents to be used differently to achieve the mission of the academic unit.”

Although the instructional workload adjustment guidelines deal primarily with the general categories and justifications leading to a reduction in a faculty member’s instructional workload, an effective and transparent workload policy will also allow for variability in assignments that include increasing a faculty member’s teaching load.  It would be expected that across the career path of a faculty member, interests and areas of focus will vary. Activity and productivity in some areas, such as research/scholarship, may shift. In such instances, workload assignments should necessarily reflect a reallocation of effort to other areas, such as teaching or administrative activity, in which a faculty member may continue to be active and productive. Recognizing the value of the various career paths of our faculty is crucial to building an environment in which the contributions of our faculty to the broad institutional mission can be rewarded and celebrated.

While we now have rather explicit guidelines from the System for the granting of instructional workload adjustments – and our goal as a campus is to carefully monitor these workload adjustments to ensure they are consistent with our expectations and priorities as an institution – I realize general workload policies for individual departments may be unclear, or in some cases nonexistent. In accordance with CR&R 310.080, each Department should have a workload policy for teaching, research, service and administration. These policies should clearly articulate the workload standard for each function. Furthermore, a unit’s workload policy should also make clear when standard workload reassignments are to be expected based on changes in a faculty member’s activity and productivity across each function. Departmental workload policies must be reviewed and approved by the Dean of each college/school and by the Provost.

To ensure that such policies exist and are in compliance with our CR&Rs, each Department should submit its existing workload policy to their Dean for review by December 16, 2016. If a Department or Division does not have an existing policy, one should be developed and submitted for their Dean’s review and approval. Workload policies approved by each Dean are due to the Provost’s office for review by May 1, 2017.

Department Chairs have authority to determine a faculty member’s specific assignments and workload distribution, and they do so in consultation with individual faculty members. It is important that workload expectations, including instructional workload adjustments, be clearly and consistently communicated to faculty. The development of workload policies is simply a first step in creating a transparent process for workload assignments. Equally important is that each faculty member’s performance and workload distribution be regularly reviewed. Department Chairs are responsible for conducting annual performance evaluations of all untenured and tenured faculty (see CR&R 310.015), and, in consultation with the faculty member and relative to the department workload policy, determining faculty workload assignments in teaching, research, and service (see CR&R 310.080). Department chairs considering workload reassignments should consult with the faculty member in question, fully appraise the individual of the process and justification for reassignment, and provide due notification for workload adjustments through consistent annual review feedback.

To ensure that adequate annual review processes for all faculty are in place, I am requesting that the Dean of each college/school review and approve the annual review process that Chairs use in each Department or Division before the next cycle of annual reviews commence in 2017.

We value the varying roles faculty play in the life of our university.  A clear, transparent, and flexible workload policy reflective of the high standards expected of a land grant AAU university will allow faculty members to each contribute effectively to our mission, whether in teaching, research, service, and/or administration.

(November 2, 2016)

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