Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Should Faculty be Required to Fill Out Time Sheets?

Inside Higher Ed, Punching In at Kean U.:

Kean University's administration is not exactly beloved by its professors. ... Now the university has once again angered faculty members -- requiring them to fill out time sheets reporting how many hours they have worked each day, to demonstrate that they are working at least a 35-hour week. ...

James Castiglione, president of the faculty union at Kean (an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers), said that the time sheets "degrade the professionalism of faculty by treating them as if they were 19th century workers." He said he did not know of other colleges that require all faculty members to fill out such forms. Several higher education experts agreed that this is not the norm. ...

Cary Nelson, national president of the American Association of University Professors, said he had heard about the threats to impose time sheets at Kean. "The real problem with faculty time sheets is that no administration can cope with the reality of accurate reporting," he said via e-mail. "Many of us work 12 or 15 hour days, seven days a week. If it became clear how many hours we put in, there'd be an unimpeachable argument for better compensation and more faculty positions."

While national data don't suggest many working those hours, they do show most faculty members working well beyond 35 hours. A 2006 study found that full-time faculty members worked an average of 48.6 hours per week, up from just over 40 in 1984. Further, the study found that the proportion of full-time faculty members who work more than 50 hours a week has doubled since 1972 -- reaching nearly two-fifths.

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That's because most lawyers are treated as 19th century workers.

Posted by: anon | Feb 16, 2011 6:15:17 AM

@wikiwiki: not every lawyer. Consider lawyers who work for one client, e.g., lawyers working as law clerks, lawyers working in government agencies, lawyers working as in-house counsel. Lawyers who fill out time sheets do so to allocate their services among different clients. And, there are times when law faculty report their hours, though not through the time sheet mechanism; for example, universities need ways of allocating the compensation of faculty who teach courses in multiple schools or programs among or between those schools and programs. It makes sense to ask any employee, "What are you doing?" but time sheets aren't always the efficient way of getting the answer. In some ways, time sheets have flaws because they are based on self-reporting -- consider all the problems with law firm time sheet reporting, such as the 26-hour day, billing multiple clients for the same hours, etc. -- so it would make more sense to have someone else determine what one's employees have been doing. In academia, that's easily determined, by checking to see if faculty are in the classroom when required, to identify the public service and other activities in which they participate, to ascertain from students if faculty are meeting with them and how often, and to determine how much scholarly or other writing has been published. Administrators at institutions of higher education, particularly law schools, for example, know who's doing what, how well, and how often. Incidentally, time sheets don't reveal anything about quality of what is done during the time reported. Hence their use as means of allocating charges among clients or function modules but their uselessness in evaluating the worth of an employee.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Feb 16, 2011 6:08:31 AM

"treating them as if they were 19th century workers"
He knows most lawyers routinely fill out timesheets, correct?

Posted by: wikiwiki | Feb 15, 2011 10:24:10 PM