Faculties Resist Focus on Teaching: Union's Report Defends Workload

Article excerpt

At least 24 states are investigating whether faculty workload at public colleges and universities is too light, and the American Association of University Professors isn't happy about it.

The AAUP struck back yesterday, complaining after an investigation of its own about inappropriate "micromanagement" of a "complicated intellectual process."

"By focusing on classroom hours, external agencies overlook the time spent on advising students, preparing lectures, grading papers and meeting students informally on and off campus - activities that do not lend themselves to exact measurement," said Joel T. Rosenthal, who teaches history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and wrote the AAUP report.

"I agree that it's an intellectual endeavor, but it's a bunch of hogwash to argue that higher-education performance cannot be assessed," said Eugene W. Hickok, Pennsylvania's secretary of education.

Pennsylvania is one of the states scrutinizing all aspects of public higher education, in part because of budgetary problems and the sense that money will be saved if faculty members teach "one more class."

"The system has always insulated faculty," said Mr. Hickok, who was an assistant professor of political science at Dickinson College in Carlisle before his appointment as secretary of education by Gov. Tom Ridge.

"That's why they're called `ivory towers,' and there's some good reason for that detachment," Mr. Hickok said. "But overall, faculty cannot be . . . as isolated and immune from accountability as tradition would have it. . . .

"Good faculty have always been hard-working, self-disciplined, innovative idea entrepreneurs who challenge themselves. But the system allows faculty to become too comfortable."

State Rep. John Lawless led Pennsylvania's examination of higher education, launching a series of public hearings that focused on faculty workload, sabbaticals, salaries and guarantees of free tuition for professors' children.

He called the system a "gravy train."

"The average full professor spends 8. …