Poor management at CSU-Pueblo means work speedup for the proles

You might well think that.

Jonathan Rees at More or Less Bunk publishes CSU-Pueblo President Leslie Di Mare’s letter explaining that professors who teach a 3-3 now will be teaching a 4-4 load in 2014-15.  He also links to this article in the Pueblo Chieftan which publishes Professor William Brown’s analysis of the situation:

“On this new 4-4 plan some of us would go from teaching nine (credit) hours a semester to 12 hours a semester and as a result, we would be paid the same small amount,” Brown said.

“If you do the math it turns out that we would be getting a 25 percent pay reduction.”

Brown said the school’s managers, who he said were responsible for the budget crisis, are not taking pay cuts.

“I don’t know why we as faculty members and teachers, who have had no part whatsoever in this financial problem, why we should have to pay the primary price,” Brown said.

Go back to that link at More or Less Bunk to Di Mare’s letter.  It’s very strange.  The almost exclusive use of the passive voice and the subjunctive tense is striking:  faculty “are requested to teach a 12/12 credit hour load.”  Requested, not ordered?  Not required?   She continues:  “Contact hours relating to labs and clinicals should be taken into consideration in determining the 12/12 workload. Faculty may be assigned by their respective chairs to teach US 101, recitation sections, or general education courses, etc., when necessary.”

But wait–there’s still more indecision and doubt!  “[M]ore careful examination of differentiated workloads should be undertaken in the upcoming year. Therefore, I would ask that department chairs and deans work together with the Provost to review existing policies & processes regarding workload equivalencies in departments and colleges/school and create a campus-wide umbrella policy with specific guidelines by the end of calendar year 2014.  Thank you all for your patience and commitment to the university during these difficult budget times.”

Doesn’t she mean that she “would ask for your patience and commitment to the university” instead?

Once again, it looks like the administrators expect department chairs to be the hatchet women and men for this work speedup.  They don’t want to give up on the illusion of faculty governance because that will help them spread the blame around more effectively!  In other words, “we administrators who created this problem can’t possibly say what you faculty might be requested to do next year.  Just bear in mind that an appoximately 33.33% increase in your teaching workload is likely.”

Or, to quote a much more competent politician than Leslie Di Mare or Michael Martin, “you might well think that.  I couldn’t possibly comment.”

16 thoughts on “Poor management at CSU-Pueblo means work speedup for the proles

  1. Once upon a time, being a salaried worker meant you had a vocation, you weren’t watching the clock.

    Haha. Turns out the joke’s on us.

    (I know I keep repeating this, but I’ll never forget during a particularly demoralized stage of my career sitting down with pencil and paper and adding up all the actual hours I spent on my junior faculty job. Then I divided that into my junior faculty salary and came up with about $3.25. This was in a time and place when McD’s order takers were being paid $5+/hr. It did not help my demoralization.)


  2. My only concern with Brown’s comments is that he seems to be buying into the idea that more teaching doesn’t have to equal less of something else (presumably non-grant-funded research, since apparently administrative duties are being recognized, at least for the moment, as “real” work, as are grant “opportunities,” which, according to our own provost and president, actually cost universities money to accept). Realistically, yes, it’s a pay cut/work speedup, but somewhere, hidden in all that odd grammar, there’s also a complete erasure of the place of research in faculty workloads. I’d expect to at least see lip service paid to maintaining a balance of teaching/research/service expectations (and I seem to be falling into the passive voice myself in commenting; it is, indeed, a very odd document. Somebody should hand it over to Joseph Williams for analysis, and perhaps inclusion in the next edition of _Style_; I’m sure he’d have a field day with it).


  3. Having taught 4/4 it is not only research that suffers. I had less time to advise students, develop new classes, or innovate programs that might benefit students. Making the chairs call the shots is classic. At my previous institution chairs were forced to fire one t-t faculty member or be fired themselves at a moment of financial crisis. I cannot tell you how much I cherish my 2/2 work load. Even though I have tons of service etc. I always remember how hard that 4/4 load was. Don’t even get me started on the passive voice…


  4. Recitation sections?!? As in, like, t.a.ing for each others’ classes? Sounds like the faculty response should be a take on that old polite but cold-as-a-stone _New Yorker_ rejection letter: “Not right for us. Thanks.” Or the Billy Buddian: “We would prefer not to.” What if they gave an order and nobody came? (I’ve asked my colleagues year after year, does management have an “air traffic controllers solution” for this kind of thing? It echoes around our otherwise silent meeting space like asking 100 freshmen Fashion Technology majors bayonetted into a section of Western Civ “What is Enlightenment?”).

    We already have a 4/4 and I can say that it sucks, even if you’re assigned, I mean requested, to teach four small sections of a course titled “Another Interesting Thing About My Next Project.” For the *next* new thing, c.f. the cover story in the “Chronicle of Higher Ed” on the classroom observations with the foreman sitting there noting down class activities on a minute by minute basis. Soon enough, the producers down in the proverbial “truck” will be messaging the observer “have hir look more directly at the students in the back three rows…”


  5. I think you mean Bartelby-the-Scrivenerian, rather than Billy Buddian, but yeah, it’s all Mellvillian.

    I used to teach a 3-3, and I don’t know how people do it after 40 and manage not to hate themselves and/or their jobs. Widgeon is right–I’m a much better teacher with a 2-2 than I was with a 3-3, and it ain’t all age and experience. A lot of it is just time to think & be creative, time to track down an interesting image for your lecture or primary source for the students’ delectation.

    There’s probably a limit to the reduction of the teaching load always equaling better teaching. Once you get down to a 1-1 or lower, then I’m guessing that it gets to easy to slack off and stop trying.


  6. An assortment of statements:

    – 4+4 means lower quality classes or university punishes its students.
    – The university consists of 3 communities: students, faculty and administration. There always students and faculty stays for decades. The administration are temps. It’s about time the first two take over governing the university.
    – Until the revolution: students and faculty should read the administration the riot act. GO AWAY, we don’t want you here.
    – Stop complaining; it isn’t middle school.

    (You can guess that my dean isn’t my biggest fan. I offered him an out: he can resign.)


  7. koshembos is right.

    i have always taught 3-3, have only vapped at 2-2. Yes 2-2 is significantly better. glad to know 3-3 makes people hate their jobs and themselves; it is the reason i am not interested in academia.


  8. Had a “discussion” once about teaching load with my (former) dean’s tenure review panel during my presentation of a pre-tenure review case for one of my faculty. It was suggested that the aspiring proffie should stop being an “A teacher” (which ze was) and settle for being a “B teacher.” This would free up time for research. “I had not thought of suggesting that,” was the best reply I could manage. If they said that kind of thing and meant it, I guess it would be something. But I would not hold my breath waiting for it.

    I don’t work there any more.


  9. The buck passing here is really extraordinary, and it’s pretty clear that there are all sorts of admin types whose heads should roll. The unilateral change in contractual duties is pretty breathtaking. I’ll offer one caveat, however. When I was an undergraduate at Fancy Ivy, the campus practice was that discussion sections were taught by faculty. In big coure that meant that you would have sometimes a senior faculty member leading your session. It was in many ways a good practice: not only were discussion leaders experienced teachers and scholars, but it also created some sense of shared responsibility for the curriculum.


  10. At my former institution, faculty were told that we had to teach an extra class (on top of a 3/3 load) to help offset budget cuts. And salaries were frozen. And travel money was taken away.

    The next year, high level admins received bonuses for managing the financial crisis so effectively. A slap in the face, really.


  11. Either Susan and I attended the same Fancy Ivy, or there are two where professors sometimes lead the discussion sessions (though when I was a grad student at a school where this was supposedly the practice, it was more like that’s what the tour guides still described as happening, but the discussion sections had really been run almost entirely by grad students for a couple of decades, as they were at my undergrad Ivy, which was supposedly less undergrad-friendly). In some ways, that might be better than having a whole additional course of one’s own to prep, except I’m guessing that classes with recitation sections are also paper and/or homework-heavy (and that the recitation sections end up being the places where any remediation that is revealed to be needed by such exercises is done, if it is done at all).

    At my own institution, sections are just getting bigger and bigger, in some cases doubling. This, of course, is a slightly-less-visible way of accomplishing such a speedup (supposedly one cuts the work in some way — usually by resorting to more multiple-choice tests — but that only goes so far).


  12. @CC, I was an undergraduate many many years ago…I think the practice has changed, but not entirely. So we may indeed have been at the same place.


  13. I teach at such an institution that has been contemplating these same policies. Here’s the rub: our contract (and the one at this institution, I imagine) specifies that our teaching load is 12 units a semester. Yet for the past umpteen years, there have been course releases and such so that most faculty teach a 3-3 regular courseload (not counting grad supervisions and the like). Legally, however, the institution can insist that we teach the contractual courseload. Nobody likes it, but it’s true.

    In better times, the best faculty could vote with their feet, and they’d be replaced by the many hungry job-seekers out there. In this day and age, however, there’s no place to jump to. It’s a buyer’s market, which means that we have to suck it up.


  14. There are several aspects of this crisis at CSU-Pueblo that are all too familiar. Moving from a 3-3 workload to 4-4 kills any opportunity for research, improvement of your resume, and diminishes opportunity for future advancement. That happened to me at an institution where I was tenured, and I left.

    Second, Faculty with secure positions elsewhere is not going to be “attracted” to employment at CSU-Pueblo, so the long term decline of education quality begins now.

    Are there solutions? In terms of the function of an institution like CSU-Pueblo, what Departments service present and future needs of Colorado employers? How many staff are assigned to reach out to employers to ask what job skills they want and need?

    At one Community College where I served as an outside reviewer, the institution had not engaged in an outreach to the business community in ten years!

    Is that the case at CSU-Pueblo?

    Sometimes institutions lose sight of their purpose. For example, Metro State in Denver aspires to become “like” CU-Boulder and the Faculty attitude is “damn the students, I’m in this for myself.”

    Lastly, are the careerist administrators who manage the CSU system advised by a good war time consigliare? My guess is they are not and they really do need a tough guy, not just in Pueblo, but in Denver.


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