Inside Higher Ed, Should Professors Teach More to Avoid Program Cuts?:
Faced with steep budget cuts, several University of Wisconsin System campuses have targeted academic programs to try to save money. The Superior campus announced last year that it was suspending 25 programs, including nine majors — sociology and political science among them. The Stevens Point campus said it would cut 13 majors, including English, history, political science and sociology — and expand programs it says are more job oriented and in demand. In many cases where colleges take this approach, humanities and other liberal arts disciplines face some of the deepest cuts.
The Oshkosh campus is taking a different route to solvency: it’s asking tenured and tenure-track faculty members in the College of Letters and Science to teach more.
“I fully understand the hardship that this change may present to faculty and instructional academic staff,” Colleen McDermott, dean of the college, wrote to faculty members in a recent letter about the change. “We have exhausted every other route of cost cutting for the college (short of laying off faculty or closing programs).”
Currently, tenure-line faculty members in the college teach 24 credit hours per year, or 12 credit hours -- typically four classes -- per semester. But most professors apply for and get what’s known as a curriculum modification to teach 18 credit hours per year, or three classes a semester, to spend more time on research.
Starting next year, however, professors will all teach a minimum of 21 credit hours per year, or four classes one semester and three the other. That’s regardless of where they are in their curriculum-modification schedules, which last three years. ...
Teaching loads are a particularly touchy subject in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has suggested that professors do more work to offset budget shortfalls, and professors have responded by saying that he misunderstands what faculty work entails. Rebecca Blank, chancellor of the Madison campus, also has been criticized for saying that she sometimes gives professors with outside job offers course releases to get them to stay at her institution. Madison is a research university, of course, and Oshkosh is primarily a teaching institution.
Course load issues are touchy outside Wisconsin, too, however. They expose disparities in institutional resources and working conditions, and many professors already feel time starved. And teaching load increases have been elsewhere suggested to address budgetary concerns