Thursday, July 02, 2009


Staff Teaching

My college is grappling with this issue now, and I’m wondering how others have handled it.

We have some twelve-month professional staff – counselors, librarians, etc. – who would like to be able to teach the occasional class during their regular workday as part of their regular workload.

We have a longstanding practice of allowing staff to teach on an adjunct basis outside of their regular work hours, just like people who work off-campus. If your workday ends at, say, five, and you stick around one night a week to teach an evening class on an adjunct basis, I don’t see the conflict. Nobody has taken issue with that, and it has worked fairly well. But some folks who want to teach don’t want to have to stick around into the wee hours, and are asking to be allowed to teach during their usual workday.

A few considerations:

How many hours to allot for, say, a three-hour class? Faculty teach fifteen hours a week and get credit for a full week. By that standard, a three-hour class should equate to one full workday. Faculty have service commitments, but so do staff. If we only allot the actual class time, what does that imply about faculty workload? If we allot proportional class time – that is, one full day for each three-hour class -- then we’re placing some heavy burdens on the staff who don’t teach, who have to step in and pick up the slack for the missing colleague.

How to account for different workload over twelve months? Faculty salaries are based on teaching in the Fall and Spring semesters. Staff salaries are based on working twelve months a year. (Faculty who teach summer classes get extra pay for that.) An unscrupulous administrator, given the chance, could simply allow staff to teach as part of their regular load twelve months a year, and save the extra cost of paying faculty for summer teaching. Not that we’d ever think of such a thing.

Of course, there’s also the pesky matter of tenure. If you can get around tenure simply by classifying people as ‘staff,’ and get around summer teaching costs while you’re at it…

I’m just sayin’.

One compromise proposal has staff making up their missed hours after hours. But in that case they’re effectively doing extra work for free. If they’re willing to stick around after hours anyway, they’re better off at least getting the adjunct pay. And some staff positions really don’t lend themselves to after-hours work – the demand is there when it’s there.

Wise and worldly readers of mine, I seek your counsel. How does your campus handle the question of full-time staff teaching during regular workdays? Have you found a reasonably elegant solution that seems to satisfy most people?

Simple. They do their regular job like everyone else does and then teach AFTER hours. Or if they teach a morning class, they make up the hours missed from their regular job. How hard is that? What your staff wants to do is called double dipping. If they can do that, what's to keep other staff from wanting to go work in part time retail job for a couple of hours during their college work hours.

Same difference. It's wrong. period.
I don't think the reference was to staff who want to both get their regular pay AND get adjunct pay while only working regular hours (obviously no one would let that happen)-- but rather, those who want to get their regaulr pay, no extra for teaching, but have the teaching part of their regular workload. I am at a SLAC and we have many admins and staff who teach as part of their regular workload. This saves the college adjunct costs, but I don't think it is particularly abused. But it does end up being up to the individual to work out how to tmake that work within the scope of the other things they nee dto accomplish, which can be hard.
Perhaps I'm just not getting it--but I'm not seeing the conflict. A staff member works 40 hours a week at their staff job. They are paid their normal staff salary. Then they teach the 3 hrs of class, for which they are paid the going adjunct rate. They do their prep, grading, etc. on their own time, just as any other adjunct. If the staff member wants to teach during normal business hours, they get permission to work a flexible schedule, but still put in their 40 hours of staff time.

If, however, the conflict is that staff members wants to teach and have that time included as their staff hours (and thus, not get paid the going adjunct rate), well, to me that just seems like an invitation to trouble. Unless it's in their contract--AND standard practice--that as part of their 40 hours they will teach for 3 hours and prep for 3 hours (or 6, or whatever is agreed upon), I think it would be hard to negotiate fairly on a case-by-case basis without some serious hard feelings on the part of other staff members...
It's done the same way you do it at our institution. Staff are free to do whatever they like outside of normal working hours.
We have some of this at our college, and it falls into several categories:

Our librarians and counselors are considered faculty, so when they want to teach it's part of their job. When they have a non-teaching assignment, it's 35 hours/week. Teaching faculty have 15 hours/week as a normal load. If someone wants to teach a few hours a week, we just do the math to figure out how many hours they have left for non-teaching assignmnet.

We also have classified staff and administrators that teach. For classified staff, they become adjuncts and teach outside their regular work hours, although it can become tricky with online teaching.

When administrators teach, it gets trickier. Administrators are on salary and considered to be "on call" all the time, so there may not be clear "outside of work hours." Some of them do teach during 9-5 hours with their supervisor's permission, with the understanding that they'll put in extra hours if needed. But if their job is getting done, no one tracks the hours . . . .
Just so we're on the same page... at most institutions, one credit hour = 50 minutes of contact time, so three credit hours = 150 minutes = 2.5 hours of contact time.
They should teach only in the evenings and the weekends and they shouldn't get paid. They're lucky to have jobs, so they need to do some volunteer work to help the organization that puts food on their table! What lazy ingrates you have at your school!
Wow. I was hoping for some insight into this one, since I know at my school professional staff (including academic advisors) do often teach classes during the work day (the dominant criteria regarding whether or not this is allowed seems to be one's supervisor's permission), but most of the comments here are coming across as, well, dismissive and jerk-like. This is surprising for this site, since they are usually a lot more thoughtful.
maybe i'm missing something here,but i think the answer is rather simple.

if you have a staff job that in theory takes 35hrs per week, u shouldn't,in theory, have the time during the week to teach during those hours. i would just prohibit it and allow anyone to teach adjunct outside of their normal working hours.

if someeone's got the time for 3 hours and class and 3 hours of prep AND can do their regular work week, then they seem to me not to have enough work to keep them busy at their regular job
Flextime is surely possible for some employees--someone who normally works 8-5 could hypothetically, with the agreement of a supervisor, come in at 7 and leave at 6:30 on teaching days, or come in half an hour earlier every day in order to devote 2.5 hours of work time to the "second" job of teaching.

For staff who want to be absent during their normal work hours and can't flex in this way, could they use vacation time for the contact hours, with prep and grading to be done on their own time, as with any other adjunct? Let's say in a 15-week semester, that's 45 (predictable, scheduled) hours away from the desk, or about a week of paid vacation time. It would be a sacrifice, yes, but worth it for some people who enjoy teaching, want the experience, or value the extra money more than the vacation time.

I can see where folding a teaching component into most staff jobs would be very difficult, but there are probably a handful of staff jobs that could be reconfigured this way. There probably are some that already are--a writing center administrator who teaches a writing class, for example.
One of my colleagues at my old job taught a class fairly regularly in his field of expertise. I'm not sure exactly how he worked it out, but I think he made up the time for any daytime class hours. Class prep & grading happened in his off time, and I don't remember at all about "office hours."

Our department did have the possibility for quite a bit of schedule flexibility, though.

I'll add that it was a great opportunity for our department. We got good visibility on the faculty and student side. Of anyone in our department, he probably had the most credibility in working with the full-time faculty.

Additionally, we found some really excellent student workers who'd taken his class.
Well, the easy solution is to give some flex time to teach a class at the adjunct rates. This has the benefit of being straightforward. It has the cost of discouraging staff teaching.

I think the real question is, what benefits the institution more? At that point, I have to lean toward the "you have a job and may feel free to apply to teach as an adjunct" solution. In general, faculty and staff are far more expensive per-hour than adjuncts, and you're paying for their benefits, too. Now, if you're in a situation where you're trying to avoid layoffs and looking for stuff for people to do until business picks up, the idea of grabbing some folks who have strong backgrounds and having them teach classes makes sense. But I don't think that's the case in your area.

Under circumstances of swelling enrollments and declining revenues, anything other than treating them as adjuncts seems like a luxury that suits other institutions better.
Does your institution let people to work temporarily switch to less than full time, or could it? If so, just let staffers choose what percentage of their workload they wish to maintain, pay them accordingly, and pay them normally for the adjunct position.
There's a faculty union at your campus, Dean Dad. Presumably, counselors and librarians are represented by the union.

All the questions--and they're good ones--you've brought up should be negotiated and become part of the collective bargaining agreement.

Nonteaching twelve-month appointment faculty on our campus (librarians, directors, etc) who wish to teach an occasional class must do so outside of business hours or make up the time hour-for-hour.
The "how many hours" problem is solved by using percentage loading, I think. For example, if 15-unit load is standard for FT faculty, then a 3-unit class equals 20% of a FT load. So the non-teaching person would be released from 20% of his or her regular hours for a 3-unit class (7 hours for a 35-hour work week). Of course, that doesn't address all of the other issues you raise. My school has the same solution: certificated non-teaching employees who want to teach take the class as an overload (paid at adjunct rate) with the possbility of flexing the regular work schedule as appropriate. Classified folks can teach overloads just like anyone else with a "day job" (with the difference that we have to watch total hours per week to avoid OT).
At my SLAC it varies. We do have several academic staff positions where teaching is built-in as part of their contracts, so no problem there. We do have other staff members, including coaches, who want to teach, particularly in our first-year seminar program. In most cases, those were negotiated case-by-case among the dean, the supervisor, and the staff member.

In general, it seems as though the practice has been to try to adjust the staff member's regular workload where possible to create the time to teach, esp. when that teaching will aid in professional development. Is that problematic? Possibly, but it seems to have worked reasonably well here.
Nowhere have I seen any mention of the single most important question: who assigns and evaluates the teaching!

An adjunct is hired and paid by the teaching unit, but someone in the business office does not report to the Dean of the unit that teaches accounting classes. How will that person's supervisor evaluate (and weight) teaching when doing the annual performance review? This is a potential nightmare for you and them, since their supervisor would report to the business side of campus rather than the Provost.

Flextime is the solution to the scheduling problem, assuming they actually want to work more than a 40 hour week.

Now we also have counselors etc who are part of the faculty unit and whose assigned duties usually include teaching a class within their area of expertise under the supervision of a Dean that reports to the Provost. That load is assigned in accord with the usual negotiated agreements.

The one case I know of like what you appear to be describing is one where our Dean taught a class in his area of expertise (he is, probably, still a tenured prof in that area) during the summer. It was "just" absorbed into his other salaried duties, and the Provost was his defacto supervisor. That was not, however, a recurring situation. If it was, it would probably kill him.

There is one other possibility, of course, and that would be an agreement on all sides that this job does not need full time staffing and the college could use a "free" instructor in these trying times. Splitting it up, and figuring out how to handle any tenure implications (two times longer at a 50% load?), is a matter for you and the union.
Here at our R1, some academic staff positions are defined to combine teaching with some other duties, those other duties replacing the research duties of tenure-track faculty. Staff who don't have one of those positions, and who have a full-time, 12-month salary, can teach but only on the understanding that their other duties can't suffer, and the college compensates their home department, not the individual. My understanding is that this cannot be a standing arrangement--if a department truly feels that a staff position should have teaching duties, they need to redefine it to be one of the accepted hybrid types.

Yes, I see the potential for abuse with this system, but it does require collusion at multiple administrative levels. Here, at least, that is highly unlikely.
Wow, I'm kind of stunned how the faculty/staff caste system is playing out here. There seems to be a great deal of snobbery toward staff who aspire to teach and a desire to keep them in their (lower) place.

As a staff member w/a Ph.D., a good deal of teaching experience, and a position as a teaching consultant in the university's teaching center, I'm sometimes called upon to teach, and the circumstances under which I teach each come with their own rules. For example, as part of my job at the teaching center, I teach a one-unit graduate seminar on college teaching. This is considered part of my job, and in order to teach it, I hold an unpaid academic appointment with the School of Education. I'm paid by the teaching center for these duties and they're considered part of my typical workweek.

If I choose to teach a 2-unit first-year seminar, which at my university is rewarded with a research stipend instead of a salary, I need to do all the planning on my own time, and make up any hours I miss during the day. I suppose I could argue that I don't need to make up the very few hours missed during the day (typically 2 hours/week for one quarter each year) because teaching a first-year seminar allows me to experiment and innovate, and I'll pass the wisdom gleaned from these experiences onto other faculty, which is definitely part of my regular job. It gets messy, though, as the teaching center runs the first-year seminar program, and I don't want to make it look as if I'm double dipping.

If I were to teach a course in a department, I would need to figure out what percentage one course equals over the course of a year. So if I taught one course in a department where adjuncts typically teach seven courses a year, then 1/7 of my salary over the course of the year would be paid at the adjunct rate, with 6/7 paid at the staff rate. This actually ends up being a bad deal for me financially.

During part of the year, I do adjunct one evening a week at another university--because my university doesn't offer a program in that specialty. In that case, I do have to leave my regular staff job in the afternoon and I make up those hours later.

As is probably becoming clear, my position, while classified as staff, really occupies a borderlands between "faculty" and "staff," and that can be really frustrating at times. It means that this December I lose my office and move into a cubicle. But it also means I can have a more flexible schedule than the clerical staff in my department. Sometimes I may work a 35-hour week and sometimes I work a 50-hour week, which is fine as I'm also considered an exempt employee.

It also means I don't have the union protection that both the adjuncts and clerical staff enjoy.

On my better days, I look at it this way: The university is getting someone to teach whom it considers skilled enough to help t-t faculty improve their own teaching--but it doesn't have to pay me as a full colleague to these people, even though I do research and a ton of service. At the same time, I benefit because they're paying me better than they pay adjuncts whose Ph.D.s are as newly minted as mine.

If you figure out an elegant solution to my hybridity, DD, please share!
Assuming you don't want to renegotiate existing contracts (with faculty, adjuncts, and staff), it strikes me the easiest way to deal with this is to treat the teaching of a course as one they are an adjunct for.

To handle the time off during the day, work out the hours and reduce their salary and benefits by a pro-rated amount (or whatever you normally do for part-time employees).
Once upon a time, my CA community college used to allow full-time staff to teach, but only during evening hours as overload (it was just too messy to manage the daytime hours - as you point out). Then someone brought up the existence of a nasty overtime formula the college technically has to pay for any hours exceeding a full load, so the college stopped allowing full-time staff to teach altogether. There are a number of full-time staff who are really upset about the policy because they love teaching, but the administration stands firm against it.

Currently, the alternative my college uses is to let staff members teach IF they have a staff load under 100% - there are currently two of us who do it. We are both 75% (30-hour/week) staff members who are allowed to teach one or two classes per semester on an adjunct basis. As long as we stay under a 100% load, it doesn't matter where we put those hours - both of us usually teach right in the middle of our workday. There was a whole debacle about this last year (I'm the one who wrote with the following inquiry: about how much of a load is allowed to make up that last fraction (10 hours vs. 25% of a full faculty load), but that has since been resolved. The formula used is similar to what the college uses when full time counselors teach: 1 hour in the classroom is equal to 2 hours of "office work." I can teach one 3 or 4 unit class per semester, and that makes up a 25% teaching load.

I did recently meet a colleague from southern California whose college does allow him (a full-time staff member) to teach a class adjunct. The college does it by paying the awful overtime formula. I don't know if that is easier than calculating how many of one kind of work equals so much of another. As an FYI, the formula falls under the FLSA - Federal Labor Standards Act - so it shouldn't be just a weird California thing.

- CA Community College Staff/Faculty member

the tweedy sense of entitlement here is redolent of the old days.

The bad news for all of us in the ivy is that teaching is more and more about.. well results.

This probably won't have a ton of impact in the evergreen disciplines, which I surely hope continue to be important, as I teach in one. But, holy cow...

aren't the clever ones, the intellectuals, the whatevers, supposed to be able to see past a class system?

And, LOL, my word verification is "bless" so I must be right. ;-)
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