Reducing resource inequities even in a time of budget squeezes using a systematic approach to comparing teaching loads across UMass Boston


The overall idea of this proposal is that a UMassBoston-wide formula is established for calculating the teaching load of all departments. Departments can develop their own internal systems of credit for awarding course load reductions (e.g., “6 points earns you a CLR”) as long as these CLRs do not bring the department below the average teaching load across the university. In short, the proposal promotes equity across colleges and departments and autonomy of departments to acknowledge local or particular conditions.

Other important ideas in this proposal are: transparency (if a Provost of Dean makes a decision not justified by teaching load, then that is visible to all) and how to make the transition to a transparent, equitable, autonomy-respecting system (see #1 to follow).

1. Any change involves a transition problem: How to get change if some lose out? Proposal: No department loses its current Teaching-related Resource Equivalents (TREs) for 3 years. After that, any losses happen only when benefited faculty leave or through reduced hiring of non-benefited part-timers.

2. Establish a formula for Teaching-related Resource Equivalents, e.g.,
full-time equivalent faculty + weighting1 * benefited part-timers + weighting2 * part-timers + weighting3 * professional staff serving students + weighting4 * clerical staff serving students (& serving faculty serving students) +weighting5 * CTF allocation.

3. Establish a formula for Weighted Student Credits (WSC), e.g., credits registered in courses for fall and spring * weighting, where there may be different weightings for undergraduates, coursework graduate students, thesis Masters students, doctoral students, students in program for licensure, etc.

4. Calculate the Teaching Load (TL) for any unit as WSC/TRE. Refer to the Teaching Load for UMassBoston as a unit as the UTL and set the benchmark UTL at a specified time, e.g., 2015-16.

5. If the 3-year average TL for a department is below the benchmark UTL, then no replacements will be authorized when benefited faculty leave and the part-time budget will be progressively reduced until the department rises to the benchmark. Departments can also increase course capacities, shift from 2& 2 to 3&2 to 3&3 in graduate programs that have 2&2 loads, decrease staff numbers, or adjust their internal credit system for CLRs.

6. If the 3-year average TL for a department is above the benchmark UTL, the department has priority when a faculty or other budget line opens up. Meanwhile, the department can award CLRs based on their internal credit system, reduce course capacities, increase staff support, and employ part-timers—as long as this does not bring the department below the benchmark.

7. The internally designed credit systems can be customized to the particular needs of each department (and here, unlike in 2 & 3, teaching and administration of CAPS courses may count). Constraints on these systems to ensure fairness may be set by collective bargaining. In the meantime, it is expected that every department's system will award faculty members credit for: independent studies and thesis/dissertation advising that is not part of the course load; chairing departments and directing/coordinating graduate programs; and pre-tenured years (so tenure-track faculty get CLRs or a semester off teaching before tenure review).

8. As UMassBoston pushes enrollment up, the average UTL should not increase above the benchmark. Increases in enrollment may lead temporarily to increased TLs for departments, but, if the department's TL rises above the benchmark, the TL can be reduced by new hires or the other TL-reduction measures listed in #6.

9. University budget allocations to Colleges cover the salary expenses for teaching faculty and teaching-related support staff that arise under this system. That is, no unit gets squeezed because it happens to have more regular faculty teaching than part-timers, more senior faculty, and so on.

10. Research and other grant income do not buy a department more favorable TL targets. Research grants, if they reduce the Teaching-related Resource Equivalents, lead to a higher effective TL for a department for the same student numbers. Of course, receiving research grants does have the benefit of funneling some RTF to the department to promote more research grant-seeking and allow additional research assistants. (That should be reward enough for faculty in those departments.)

11. Data collection is straightforward: a. Each faculty and staff member must be assigned fractionally each AY to a home department and to any other unit for which they have teaching or service assignments, less any research grant buyouts, less any CAPS-funded teaching buyouts; b. Each state-funded course must have a home department (presumably the original department it was created in), even if someone outside that department is assigned to teach it.

12. If units are to be discontinued, the first to be considered should be the ones for which the 3-year average TL is lowest, subject to a probationary period IF there is a realistic plan for capturing new resources and student numbers or there are other mitigating factors (see C in Preamble). Reassignment of faculty and staff to other units should be to units with a TL above the benchmark, not to ones below the benchmark (for that would shift them into lower vulnerable TLs).

13. For degree- or credit-awarding programs housed in CAPS, the benchmark target would be the financial break-even point (i.e., income - salary - UMass Online charge - distance learning charge - 25% CAPS overhead).