Interim Provost Robert Neher has postponed finalizing two important policies concerning the University to allow for faculty input.
New policies for full-time faculty teaching overload and the development and delivery of online and hybrid courses will be postponed until the faculty can discuss the policies at forums and come to a consensus.
The faculty senate will have until the end of the month to recommend changes in these policies. Neher will ultimately make the final changes in the first weeks of June.
“I wanted shared governance procedures to be followed,” Neher said. “We want to put these policies in place soon … I’m trying to make sure the proper steps are taken … so people are aware and aren’t surprised by changes that they weren’t expecting.”
Once the faculty assembly approves these policies the policies will be entered into the faculty handbook.
The policies have been in the works for a year and a half.
A teaching overload policy is needed, according to faculty and administrators, so that faculty members don’t teach too many classes in addition to their regular three-to-four per semester. The hybrid and online policy will include a long list of rules concerning emerging online courses and will create a structure for online classes.
“Teaching load is not always based on courses,” said Kim Martin, professor of anthropology.
“These policies are ones that are favored by most administration and faculty,” said Al Clark, associate vice president of academic affairs.
However, there are also those who are opposed to the policies.
“It’s a really divided faculty,” said Felicia Beardsley, assistant professor of anthropology.
“I can teach two overloads a term in fall and spring,” Martin said. “If a person is doing a good job, why should we care? The issue is quality.”
However, Professor of Sociology Sharon Davis added: ”Anyone who teaches more than 20 overloads should be evaluated,” Davis said.
Clark said he believes the new policies will work well.
“It’s a philosophy that the new policies represented are strongly supported by Provost Neher and Vice President of Enrollment Management [Homa] Shabahang,” Clark said.
“This philosophy is a shift in the University’s approach to online courses,” Clark added. “It’s important that the faculty government have an opportunity to discuss them. I hope from the faculty discussion the University finds online policies that are widely accepted.”
Martin noted that if it were not for teaching overloads, eight of her students would not be able to graduate this semester.
Davis is hopeful that the faculty will approve a policy that she can live with, one that “takes into account the number of people in the class and quality classes for our students,” Davis said. “I’m looking for a policy that does all that.”
Alexandra Lozano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.