Faculty Workload

Policy Statement


Over the course of the past two or three decades, the "accountability movement" in American higher education has led boards of regents and trustees to insist that colleges and universities develop faculty workload policies to insure that funds allocated to support teaching and research activities are used with maximum efficiency. Early efforts to develop faculty workload policies were often imposed rather arbitrarily, causing a great deal of concern among faculty who rightfully cherishes a degree of independence in determining how they transact their various instructional and scholarly activities. More recently, however, workload planning has become more sophisticated, and, when properly conceived and implemented, can enhance rather than diminish productivity as well as provide valuable incentives to faculty that are realized in promotion and tenure deliberations as well as in annual performance reviews. That is the intent of the workload plan currently being developed at Drexel.

It is important that the idea of "load" includes scholarship/creative activity and service as well as teaching. Credit hour equivalencies are accordingly developed for research and service by deans and department heads in consultation with departmental faculties. The department head needs to know how many classes need to be taught during a given year and what proportion of those courses need to be taught during a given year and what proportion of those courses need to be taught by professorial faculty, as well as by auxiliaries and by adjuncts. The task is then to deploy faculty resources in ways that fully satisfy the department's instructional obligations while also providing support for important research and service initiatives. Specific departmental missions play an important role in determining teaching and research loads. Departments with large graduate programs and research responsibilities will deploy resources differently than departments where undergraduate instruction is the predominant activity.

In assigning workloads, the overarching principle is that each individual faculty member should do what they do best. For example, a senior faculty member who is no longer active in research and scholarship should have the opportunity to teach more than highly active scholars whose research productivity is largely dependent on the amount of time they have to carry out their investigations. The critical point is that faculty are then rewarded for what they do well. By contrast, in departments in which all faculty (or all faculty at a particular rank) teach the same number of courses, those faculty who are active in research and in service will fare far better in performance evaluations and will get a far larger raise than faculty who are not active in research.

If, however, those faculty who are not research active willingly take on a heavier teaching responsibility and teach their courses well, they will be accorded more satisfactory evaluations and hence will be eligible to receive larger raises. In other words, properly conceived and administered, an intelligent workload policy can create situations in which everyone wins! Please note that significant activity is required for all tenure-track faculty, since the awarding of tenure requires a strong record in research as well as in teaching and service. The same is true for associate professors who wish to be promoted to the rank of full professor.

Now then, the idea of a twelve-hour load is based on the notion that a faculty member who is not expected to do research or to perform university service should teach 12 credit hours. For professorial faculty, however, one starts at 12 hours and works down, depending on the amount of one's service and research activity. Again, departmental mission is a critical determinant in assigning loads. Also, in cases where departments offer courses in which contact hours vastly exceed credit hours, special consideration is required. Put simply, there is no set formula that can be applied evenly across the university or even within a large college. rather, each department needs to develop it's own workload system which is subject to approval by the dean and the provost.


The Drexel faculty workload policy is premised on the assumption that all faculty activities in teaching, research/creative activity (hereafter referred to simply as research), and service constitute the equivalent of twelve hours per term or thirty-six hours over three of the four terms in an academic year.

A. Workload Philosophy

The assignment of faculty workloads is organized on the principle that each department meets its overall responsibilities in teaching, research and service in a fully satisfactory fashion within approved budgets by employing a variable workload program that provides each faculty member with the ability to do what they do best. Because specific departmental missions and instructional pedagogies differ, the responsibility for determining specific faculty workloads rests with the department head (and, where they exist, in consultation with department personnel committees), subject to review and approval by the dean/director and the provost.

Step 1 - Determining unit responsibilities

Each department or school will develop and have in place a normative model as a framework for workload assignments. Prior to developing departmental/school budgets, the department head or school director will review the unit's instructional, research and service responsibilities for the following academic year. It should be noted that modifications may occur in the workload assignments based on changes in the unit's needs. This is accomplished by identifying the number and type of students to be served, determining maximum and minimum class size requirements, reviewing unit requirements in research, scholarship and creative activity, and determining realistic service obligations for faculty in the department, the college and the university. Implicit in this review is that a unit's continuing salary budget is adequate to meet the above requirements unless significant changes in enrollment or in the department's research and service missions have occurred in the previous year. For 1999-2000, each unit will be zero-based budgeted and research and service requirements identified so that salary budgets are adequate to meet instructional, research and service needs.

Step 2 - Assignment of loads to professional faculty

Professional assignments will be made in a manner which maximizes unit productivity and which enables faculty to fulfill their various instructional, research and service expectations. While no set formula for the assignment of loads will be prescribed because of differing departmental missions, the following is assumed: research-active faculty in departments with graduate programs will teach two courses (six hours), with the remainder of their assignments in research and service. In undergraduate departments, the instructional norm is nine hours of instruction, with the remaining hours designated to research and service. This does not mean that all faculty in graduate departments teach six hours per term or that all faculty in undergraduate departments teach nine hours. It simply means that departmental budgets are based upon this identification of instructional responsibilities. For example, in cases in which faculty teach very large classes without additional support from TA's, etc., it is not inappropriate for such a class to count as two sections. Also, special care must be taken to insure that tenure track faculty have workloads that enable them to meet their expectations in research as well as in instruction. It is, then, the responsibility of department heads to assign faculty loads in a manner that maximizes productivity within the existing salary budget. For example, in a graduate department, a faculty member who is very active in research may have their teaching load reduced to three hours only if another faculty member who is not research active (but who contributes to the unit's service mission) teaches nine hours.

Step 3 - Assignment of loads to auxiliary and adjunct faculty and to teaching assistants

The remaining instructional obligations in a department are fulfilled by auxiliary and adjunct faculty and by teaching assistants according to customary policies of the department/school and of the university.

Step 4 - Loads and budgets

Assuming the adequacy of a unit's faculty salary budget, the dollars available for instruction, research and service must fully cover the cost of the assigned loads. When this is not the case, the department head must re-calculate loads so that the unit's salary budget is adequate. In cases where the faculty salary budget more than covers the faculty workload (assuming no significant changes in student enrollments or in departmental mission), loads must also be recalculated.

Step 5 - Faculty performance reviews

In the fall of each year, each department will conduct annual performance reviews for the purpose of determining faculty raises and to establish the basis for workload assignments for the following year. For example, a faculty member who has been assigned a load based upon expectations in research and service well as in teaching must have fulfilled those expectations to receive a merit increase and to maintain the assigned load in the following academic year. As always, individual faculty members have the right to appeal an assigned load through appropriate academic channels.

Step 6 - Assessment of Workload Policy

Assessment of the workload policy will occur over the first two years to determine its effectiveness in helping units satisfy the workload policy requirements (e.g., variable assignments that reflect the unit's range of activities, mission, individual faculty goals, and the university mission. The Faculty Affairs Committee of the Senate, in consultation with the Administration, will develop a framework for assessment of the Workload Policy, and a mechanism for incorporating the results of that assessment into revisions in the Workload Policy. All such revisions are subject to Faculty Senate approval.

B. Budget Implications

It goes without saying that department budgets must be adequate to cover the cost of the unit's overall responsibilities in instruction, research and service. In addition, the budget must be returned to each unit in a timely manner. As we approach steady state in terms of our enrollments, and as we redefine departmental goals and missions, we must build budgets in a manner in which we deploy our limited resources equitably and consistent with actual needs. We can do that only if we have a workload policy that is based upon a unit's mission and function, and in which all faculty are assigned loads designed to achieve maximum productivity within acceptable norms.


A. Menu of Workload Functions Introduction

It is understood that specific activities in the three categories of Instruction, Research and Service may differ among our Schools and Colleges. This document is intended as a road map rather than a prescription, and, where appropriate, units should adjust activities from one category to another. This portion of the document helps to codify the proposed workload document.

1. Fitness and Appropriateness

The fitness and appropriateness of the workload functions are important concerns. Fitness and appropriateness emphasize the work that faculty are assigned and budgeted to do; in terms of workload these two should be the same. Criteria for merit may be structured on these functions. The relative weight for tenure and promotion may not be the same as for merit. Connecting the criteria to faculty workload responsibilities requires performance at the University-wide level and at the college/school/department level. At the University-wide level, the general responsibilities of faculty are to engage in teaching, research or other creative scholarly activities, public service, University governance, and activities within one's discipline. At the college/school/ department level, units have differing missions and goals within the University-wide mission. In addition, faculty work assignments differ among and within the colleges, schools, and departments and therefore, workload responsibilities will differ based on their college/school/department level missions and goals.

2. Fairness

The fairness of how this menu of functions is applied also is important. Fairness means that the procedures for assigning and budgeting various functions of the total workload include safeguards against assignment of functions that are inappropriate to the individual's professional competence. In instances where there is a non-negotiable discrepancy regarding an assigned and budgeted function between a faculty member and their supervisor, the person is assured a just hearing.

3. Criteria

The need for fitness and appropriateness requires that the various functions be weighted and prioritized to meet the unit's mission and goals. In turn, these specific unit weightings of the workload functions can be used in evaluating faculty's performance of the duties assigned to them by the department heads or equivalent and approved by the deans or school directors. Evaluating faculty performance by workload function may result in the following evaluations:

  • Distinguished: Demonstrates superior or outstanding performance.
  • Proficient: Performs at a capable and competent level.
  • Adequate: Performs to meet minimal requirements.
  • Conditional: Does not meet minimal requirements.

B. Menu of Workload Functions

The following functions are forms of scholarship that may be considered for the purpose of determining workload.

1. Instruction

Faculty whose work assignments include instruction must demonstrate teaching excellence that draws upon the instructor's depth and breadth of scholarship. Following are examples of workload functions addressing instruction.

  • Regular teaching assignment
  • Preparation of innovative teaching materials or instructional techniques or design and development of new curricula
  • Development of innovative courses
  • Course coordination involving mentoring/teaching of other course instructors
  • Contribution to a department's/program's instructional program
  • Direction of individual student work, e.g., independent studies, theses or dissertations, special student projects, and informal student seminars
  • Administration of teaching, e.g., multiple sections, team taught
  • Academic advisement which is integrally related to the learning process and to course outcomes
  • Publication of textbooks or articles that reflect the faculty member's teaching contributions and scholarship
  • Presentation of papers on teaching before learned societies
  • Selection for special teaching activities outside of the University, especially outside the United States e.g., Fulbright awards, special lectureships, panel presentations, seminar participations, and international study and development projects
  • Membership on special bodies concerned with teaching, e.g., accreditation teams and special commissions
  • Receipt of competitive grants/contracts to fund innovative teaching activities or to fund stipends for students
  • Membership on panels to judge proposals for teaching grants/contracts
  • Invitation to testify before governmental groups concerned with educational programs
  • Supervision of students being trained in clinical activities in practical and/or field sites

2. Research or Other Creative Scholarly Activities

Faculty whose work assignments include research or other creative scholarly activities should clearly demonstrate excellence in these endeavors. Following are examples of workload functions addressing research or other creative scholarly activities.

  • Publication of articles, books, monographs, bulletins, reviews, and other scholarly works by reputable journals, scholarly presses, and publishing houses that accept works based on rigorous review and approval by peers in the discipline
  • Receipt of competitive grants and/or contracts to finance the development of ideas
  • Refereed presentations (e.g., professional conferences)
  • Supervision of publishable undergraduate research project(s),
  • Supervision of graduate research
  • Patents
  • Consulting
  • Juried exhibitions of art works
  • Appointment as consultant to state, national, and/or international public and private groups engaged in scholarly and/or artistic endeavor
  • Development of processes or instruments useful in solving problems relevant to the mission and needs of the faculty members unit
  • Selection for tour of duty at special institutes for advanced study
  • Presenting testimony before governmental groups concerned with research or other creative scholarly activities

3. Service

These service listings are necessarily lengthy to accommodate the diverse activity that may be typical of a particular unit. The service workload functions are to be used for workload reporting and are intended to complement tenure and promotion criteria but not to extend or substitute for them. Refer to the tenure and promotion policy for tenure and promotion documentation. The lengthy number of the service functions should not be construed as having more weight than the instruction or research functions.

a. Public Service

Public service is the application of knowledge through research, teaching, and technical assistance to the solution of societal problems. Faculty whose work assignments are in public service must devise creative ways to serve the public. Following are examples of workload functions addressing public service.

  • Providing information, advice, or assistance to governmental bodies, i.e., congress, State Legislature, City Council, committees or commissions of government, etc., or providing testimony at hearings of governmental bodies
  • Provide educational needs assessment, program development, training, consultation, and technical assistance to local, state, national, and/or international organizations
  • Identify, develop, and render service to individuals, communities, organizations, and public agencies in support of their own purposes and functions
  • Furnish leaders and groups with objective research results and other resource information for decision-making
  • Design and conduct feasibility studies, field-test basic knowledge, develop procedural and technical manuals, and provide group instruction on and off campus
  • Development and application of effective ways to identify problems and assess needs in a service area
  • Mentor people nationally and internationally to study the faculty member's work and innovations
  • Disseminate in the appropriate media the faculty member's service work and innovations
  • Development of instruments and/or processes useful in solving persistent problems in a service area
  • Serve on special bodies concerned with service
  • Receipt of grants and/or contracts to finance development and delivery of service innovations
  • Serving on panels judging grant/contract proposals for service innovations

b. Service: University Governance

University governance includes activities required to study University needs, to decide procedures for meeting those needs, and to implement those decisions. Faculty members are responsible for contributing to the myriad processes that move the University forward to carrying out its mission. Following are examples of workload functions addressing service as University Governance.

  • Serve in membership and/or leadership roles in University level activities, e.g., the faculty senate, special ad hoc and standing committees, etc.
  • Serve in membership and/or leadership roles in college/school level activities, e.g., special ad hoc and standing committees, etc.
  • Serve in membership and/or leadership roles in departmental/program level activities, e.g., special ad hoc and standing committees, etc.
  • Consistently displays collegiality and good departmental citizenship, including recruiting activities
  • Carry out administrative responsibilities at the appropriate level(s)
  • Serve in special assignments such as representing the University at national and/or international meetings
  • Publish books, articles, and give speeches pertaining to governance in higher education; these works being rigorously reviewed and accepted by peers

c. Service: Other Professional Activities

Other professional activities include work within professional associations and learned societies and assistance to one's colleagues. Following are examples of workload functions addressing service as Other Professional Activities.

  • Election to offices in professional associations and learned societies
  • Serve on important state, national, and/or international committees in professional organizations
  • Serve as editor or associate editor for professional journal
  • Serve as consultant on problems appropriate to the disciplines
  • Membership on editorial boards reviewing publications, panels judging grant/contract proposals, juries judging artworks

Senate Faculty Affairs Committee Draft prepared by F. Reisman with references from University of Georgia documents and Drexel Faculty input.