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?