CAS Request for Release or Modification of Teaching Load Form
Policy on Faculty Teaching Expectations and Release from Teaching
Revised - 5/22/12; Effective - Fall 2012
The College of Arts and Science at the University of Oklahoma is strongly committed to ensuring that all students receive an outstanding education; that all students have access to the courses that they need to complete their academic programs; that public resources and tuition revenues are used in an efficient manner consistent with accomplishing the university’s mission; and that faculty members are fully supported with the resources necessary to accomplish their professional goals while they are actively and productively engaged in teaching, research and public service. The college encourages faculty members to become recognized leaders within their disciplines, which will enrich the educational experience of all students, enhance the reputation of the university and contribute to the success of its alumni in their careers beyond graduation. To this end the college has implemented the following expectations for teaching by tenured, tenure-track and renewable term faculty members.
A. Teaching Expectations
All faculty members who have teaching duties assigned in the College of Arts and Sciences are expected to teach their assigned number of organized courses each year. Organized courses have regularly scheduled classes with multiple students enrolled. The college recognizes that many faculty members engage in additional instructional activities. Some of these activities generate credit hours (e.g., supervising students in independent study, honors research and dissertation research), whereas others do not (e.g., advising undergraduate students and serving on graduate committees). Although these additional instructional activities constitute part of a faculty member’s total distribution of effort and are taken into consideration as part of a faculty member’s annual and other evaluations, they do not replace the expectation to teach organized courses.
The standard teaching expectation for full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members in the college is four organized courses of three credit hours each during the fall and spring semesters, with a typical distribution of two courses each semester. Renewable term faculty members are expected to teach the equivalent of six organized courses of three credit hours each during the fall and spring semesters, with a typical distribution of three courses each semester.
Individual departments, with the approval of the dean, may require higher or lower course teaching expectations depending upon various objective criteria, which include but are not limited to: recognized standards for workload requirements at peer institutions in the same or similar discipline; the terms of an original university appointment; the manner and structure of course delivery (e.g. distinctions between traditional lecture courses and courses with significant laboratory requirements); higher than average expectations for research productivity and external grants and contracts activity; and class size.
B. Modifications of Teaching Expectations
Any reduction in teaching expectations for faculty members must be approved in writing by their Committee A and the dean. The cost of replacing a faculty member in the classroom, including salary and fringe benefits, must be covered from some source other than centrally supplied one-time instructional support funds (Central OTIS funds). If faculty members are released from teaching it must not cause a decrease in the overall credit hour production of the unit or delay students’ progress towards graduation.
To enhance transparency, each academic unit in the college shall develop a formal policy that
(1) describes the unit’s teaching expectations and (2) outlines the application and approval process for providing teaching releases. Each academic unit is responsible for ensuring that the costs of reduced faculty teaching are covered. These plans and any reduction of teaching expectations must be approved in writing by the dean.
The college recognizes the following common categories of rationales for reduced teaching:
1. Formal Leaves and Sabbaticals. Leaves with and without pay and sabbatical leave are governed by the applicable policies in the Norman Campus Faculty Handbook.
2. Administrative Assignments. Faculty members who are appointed to the position of chair or director of an academic unit within the college are, by virtue of their administrative assignment, expected to devote half of their time to their administrative duties. Therefore, their teaching expectation is half of the normal expectation for faculty members in their academic unit. The dean may approve a reduced teaching expectation for other faculty members who take on additional administrative assignments such as serving as assistant chair of a large academic unit or advising large numbers of students.
3. Course Release during the Tenure Probationary Period. During the hiring process, some academic units in the College of Arts and Sciences offer to release tenure-track faculty members from teaching one or more courses during the six-year tenure probationary period. In recognition of the importance of such releases in attracting the best candidates, the college will fund one course release during the six-year probationary period for each new hire. To be eligible for college funding, faculty members must have been hired with a full six-year probationary period and be meeting their normal teaching expectation. Additional course releases for these faculty members and all course releases for tenure-track faculty members hired with a reduced probationary period must be funded from departmental or other sources. Central OTIS funds may not be used for this purpose.
4. Family-Related Leave. The college acknowledges the need to release faculty members from teaching and other obligations during periods of leave granted under family leave policies. The college will work with the units affected to fund these releases.
5. Class Size and Credit Hours. The dean may approve reduced teaching expectations for faculty members who teach course sections with very high enrollment or courses of more than three credit hours (e.g., five-credit hour language courses and courses with laboratories).
6. Course Buy Outs. Faculty members who have funded research grants, fellowships, or other sources of external or internal funding may request to use these funds to buy out some or all of their teaching. Such releases are not automatic and must be approved by Committee A and the dean. The amount of funding must be sufficient to cover the cost of the teaching being bought out and must be approved by the dean. Typically, the buy out amount is calculated as ten percent of the faculty member’s annual nine-month salary.
7. Other. There may be other reasons for releasing a faculty member from teaching their full assignment of courses. Requests for such releases must include a statement of justification and identify a source of funding.
8. Approval. All adjustments in the teaching expectations for faculty members must be approved in advance by Committee A and the dean. The modification must be documented in writing and reviewed annually by the dean.
C. Effort Distribution
Effort distribution, as reported on the Summary Report of Annual Evaluation form, should be an accurate reflection of how faculty members spend their time. In the College of Arts and Sciences, a teaching expectation of four organized courses of three credit hours per academic year corresponds to a teaching effort distribution of 40%. Faculty members who have a reduced teaching expectation should have a corresponding reduction in their teaching load, corresponding to a reduction of 10 percentage points per course released. Faculty members who are on leave during a semester should have a teaching load of 0% for that semester.
Changes in effort distribution provide academic units with a means to recognize and reward faculty members for focusing their activities on their professional strengths. With the approval of Committee A and the dean, faculty members may change their effort distribution annually among teaching, research and service. Changes in effort distribution must be reflected in corresponding changes in the relative weight that each activity counts in faculty evaluation. Thus, faculty members who change their teaching expectation to six courses per year would have 60% of their annual evaluation score based on the quality of their teaching.
D. Making Up For Cancelled Courses
A faculty member whose fall or spring semester in-load course is cancelled because of low enrollment or other circumstances not covered above will be expected to make up that course by teaching an additional course in-load during the same or a subsequent semester. To prevent the accumulation of courses that need to be made up, the make-up course should be scheduled during the subsequent fall or spring semester. Teaching a course in the summer without additional compensation is an acceptable way to make up for a cancelled course. All such arrangements must be approved in writing by Committee A and the dean.
E. Overload Teaching
Faculty members who are teaching their assigned number of organized courses will be eligible to receive compensation in the form of additional pay or professional development funds for teaching additional courses during the fall and spring semesters. The scheduling of overload courses must be approved by Committee A and the dean, and will be dependent on student demand and the availability of funding. The overload teaching must result in increased credit hour production both for the faculty member and for the academic unit.
Faculty members who are not meeting their standard teaching expectation will not be eligible to receive additional compensation for teaching an overload course during the fall and spring semesters. This includes courses taught through other colleges, including the College of Liberal Studies and OU Outreach.
F. Additional Presidential Teaching Expectations
To ensure that all OU students have the opportunity to learn directly from faculty members and that the university is using state funds and tuition efficiently, President Boren has asked colleges to achieve the following additional goals for teaching by tenured, tenure-track and renewable term faculty members:
1. All faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences are expected to teach undergraduate students. This commitment to undergraduate students may include, but is not necessarily limited to, teaching organized course sections and supervising undergraduate students in independent study and research.
2. All full-time faculty members (1.0 FTE) are expected to teach a minimum average of 75 students per academic year (fall and spring) as part of their in-load teaching through organized course sections and other credit-bearing instructional activities. Adjustments will be made proportionately for faculty members with approved course releases or those appointed less than full time.
3. In recognition of the high importance of providing the best possible academic foundation for all students, each academic unit is expected to ensure that freshmen students are taught by the best teachers. Moreover, when feasible, all regular faculty members, including faculty who hold endowed chairs and professorships and/or who have received awards for teaching excellence, should be encouraged to teach lower division courses.
4. Each academic unit shall develop policies and procedures with respect to establishing minimum and maximum enrollment targets for all undergraduate and graduate courses. Such targets must be approved by the dean. Academic units should continue to eliminate under-enrolled courses. In the College of Arts and Sciences, undergraduate courses with fewer than 19 students and graduate courses with fewer than six students are defined as under-enrolled.
5. Faculty members who are not actively engaged in productive research, creative activity and scholarship at an acceptable rate based upon departmental standards governing the specific academic discipline may be assigned an increase in teaching load, at the discretion of the dean or department chair/director in consultation with Committee A. Departments may consider various factors in applying this policy, which may include but are not limited to: producing scholarly publications, creative activity recognized by the discipline, national presentations, obtaining external funding, holding leadership positions in national professional organizations, supervising graduate students, serving on M.S. and Ph.D. committees, and supervising undergraduates in research.