Roy Summerford (


AUBURN -- What do professors do?

Auburn University will soon begin a trial run of a worksheet designed to answer that question in detail. The worksheet, which will begin a year-long test in spring quarter, is part of a faculty workload policy developed over the past year by a faculty committee.

The policy sets up a system in which faculty identify the amount of time they spend teaching, preparing for class, advising students, conducting research, or participating in outreach or public service projects or in other academic activities.

Interim Provost William Walker said the university is developing the policy to get ahead of the statešs implementation of a 1996 law mandating faculty workload measurements at all public colleges and universities in Alabama. That law instructed the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to develop a faculty workload policy for all higher education institutions in the state.

"The policy we will be testing is an attempt by this institution to try to define the situation before it gets defined for us," Walker said.

Auburnšs proposed policy was sent to the administration by the University Senate in January for a trial run and is the third stage in the document's evolution.

Shortly after the Alabama Legislature passed the mandating legislation in 1996, Auburn's deans proposed that the university implement its own policy rather than wait for one to be imposed by ACHE.

That proposal was sent to the University Senate, where a committee drafted a plan. The faculty representative body sent that plan back to the drawing board last fall, and the revised plan quickly won Senate support for a trial run.

Committee chair Mary Boudreaux of Veterinary Medicine said the panel recognized that no single policy would fit everyone. The trial period will provide an opportunity to identify and try to correct problems before a final worksheet and policy are developed, she said.

The policy's drafters had their doubts about how any single plan could fit all, but the committee drew from plans already in force at peer institutions, she said, adding that the committee tried to consider all contingencies.

Boudreaux noted that most states in the Southeast already have faculty workload policies for their colleges and universities. Although ACHE has been slow to develop its plan, Boudreaux said most faculty senators wanted to at least see if Auburn could have a functioning plan in place before one is imposed externally.

The policy Auburn will be testing with the start of spring quarter on March 29 provides for faculty to track their activities on worksheets with the goal of providing a common unit of measure for diverse activities. A full teaching load would be defined as 12 credit hours, plus accompanying class preparation, followup and student advising time. Other activities related to research and outreach would also be tracked.

Walker said the trial period will provide time to work out any bugs in the system so that a more-refined policy can then be implemented permanently.

A faculty workload policy will provide a means of recognizing faculty for accomplishments and service that often go unseen and unrewarded, he said. "I feel strongly that faculty should get credit for the full range of duties they perform," Walker added. "I am hopeful that this approach will provide the means to do so."

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