- I. Introduction
- II. Principles
- III. Role of the Chair
- IV. Faculty Workload Expectations
- V. Variable Teaching Loads
- VI. Additional Factors for Determining Workload Variations
- VII. Review and Rewards
Faculty workload includes teaching, research, and service/engagement. Each department has developed its own research policy, which is in line with the college policy.
As the University changes to meet new challenges including increasing enrollments and expanding ambitions in research, workload policies also must change to reflect the differing demands placed on faculty time and talent. This document sets forth guidelines for departmental workload policies for tenure-stream faculty within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
This document was drafted by a committee of chairs and faculty from a range of departments in the College, in consultation with Dean Gutierrez. The committee’s work was framed by an understanding of The Board of Governors’ policy on faculty teaching loads (Policy 400.3) which assigns UNC Charlotte faculty responsibility for five courses per year, and the recently drafted University Workload Policy which underscores that requirement. The committee’s work was also framed by the realization that the College’s mission, as expressed in the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, encompasses primary commitments to expanding and enhancing research productivity and to both undergraduate and graduate education, while maintaining UNC Charlotte’s historic service commitment to the local and regional community and the state. All of the College goals identified in the Strategic Plan have some impact on faculty workload. The following are illustrative:
- To educate graduate students so that they are full participants in extending the frontiers of knowledge and proactive in framing and addressing societal needs.
- To nurture a culture that embraces both fundamental and applied research and scholarship.
- To educate undergraduate students in the tradition of the Liberal Arts with depth of knowledge in a given field, so that they are empowered with knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of values, of ethics, and of the responsibilities for civic engagement.
- To build and enhance the intellectual community within the college for students, faculty, and staff.
- To extend intellectual inquiry and engagement into local, national, and global communities.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences welcomes the diversity of contributions that each department makes to the development and success of the College and expects that the individual department workload policies will differ, reflecting each department’s important and unique contribution to the College as a whole. However, within this diversity, there are issues that should be common to all unit workload policies:
- All departments in CLAS must have a written workload policy. The policy should be clearly articulated to faculty, reviewed regularly, and updated as necessary. The department chair should consult with the faculty in the unit when reviewing and updating the policy. The policy must be consistent with the CLAS Workload Policy and the University Workload Policy.
- The unit workload policy should define workload comprehensively, including faculty contributions to teaching, research, and service.
- The unit workload policy should allow the department to fulfill its mission as that relates to the missions of the College and the University.
- The unit workload policy should clearly articulate the standards upon which workload adjustments in the unit may be awarded. As a general rule, workload adjustments should be based only on those activities that make a demonstrable contribution to the unit, College or University.
- The unit workload policy must enable the unit to maintain course offerings sufficient to allow students to precede through their degree programs in a timely manner.
III. Role of the Chair
The department chair is responsible for administering the unit’s workload policy. The department chair should ensure that all faculty make roughly equivalent contributions to the department’s combined teaching, research, and service missions. The department chair should also ensure that the department delivers the curriculum needed by its students, and that faculty workload is assigned in a consistent and transparent manner.
IV. Faculty Workload Expectations
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences should be home to a faculty who combine active participation in their academic discipline with high quality teaching of undergraduate and graduate students and service contributions to the University and community. Achieving this goal requires that faculty members’ workload assignments allow them to be successful in meeting each of these expectations, but in particular it carries the aspiration that faculty members in the College will continue to be active and productive members of a scholarly, creative, or professional community throughout their careers. For this reason, departmental workload policies should take as a starting point the workload expectations for the “research-active” faculty member, make provision for variable workload assignments, and provide clear criteria for reviewing faculty’s workload assignments and rewarding their contributions to the department’s mission. Within that context, the standard teaching load for tenure-track and tenured faculty is 5 courses per academic year. A course is defined as an organized section using the Delaware study terminology and refers to those courses with regularly scheduled class meetings. Both graduate and undergraduate instructions apply to faculty workload. The period of measurement for the workload policy is the academic year and does not include summer terms. This load is assigned to faculty who are meeting normal expectations in research and service. 
V. Variable Teaching Loads
While the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences aspires to have research-active faculty across departments and ranks, it recognizes that departmental missions are complex and multifaceted. Just as different departments will contribute in different ways to the overall mission of the College, different tenured faculty members may contribute in different ways to the mission of the department. The College thus expects that departmental workload policies will make provision for variable workload assignments that will allow faculty to pursue their interests and strengths. Variable workload assignments will differ by department, but in general faculty are expected to make some contributions in all three areas: teaching, research, and service.
A. Research-Intensive Faculty
A reduced teaching load of fewer than five courses per year (2-2 for example) could be assigned to faculty based upon “research–intensive” activity. Each department must define its own expectations for research-intensive. Normally such standards should take into consideration the types of scholarly or creative product typical in the discipline and the normal timeframe for the preparation and dissemination of these accomplishments, and should be characterized by a demonstrated record of publication and/or grant related work, including both submission of proposals and award of external funding. Standards for research-intensive activity should embrace the following principles:
- All tenure-track faculty (untenured assistant professors) should have a research-intensive workload assignment, for demonstrable success in scholarship and/or creative activity is necessary for tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor.
- All departments should link their definitions of research-intensive status to criteria used to evaluate the quality and quantity of scholarship or creative activity used in the annual evaluation process and reappointment, tenure, and promotion decisions.
- Departments might benefit by defining research-intensive status for tenured faculty with reference to the level of professional accomplishment over a period of five years that is required to achieve tenure in the unit. See Section VII (bullet 3) for an explanation of time frames that should be considered when making an adjustment to teaching load.
- Departmental criteria may allow associate and full professors somewhat more flexibility in the particular contributions they make to research in their discipline, provided those contributions have a similarly significant impact in their fields.
B. Teaching-Intensive Faculty
Variable workload assignments should establish options for tenured faculty in which they will devote less time to research and more to teaching and/or service. Faculty whose primary contribution to the unit is in instruction are characterized as “teaching intensive” and should be assigned more than 5 courses per academic year (e.g. 3-3 or more). Faculty may be designated teaching intensive in those instances where doing so is consistent with the faculty member’s career trajectory, is necessary to meet the mission and objectives of the unit, or is necessary to ensure that all faculty are making roughly equivalent contributions to the unit’s mission and objectives. The assignment of increased teaching loads should be based upon standards clearly articulated and understood within the unit.
- In rare cases, tenured faculty may devote all of their efforts to teaching and service. In this instance, faculty carrying a standard service load should teach the equivalent of four courses per semester.
- While tenured associate professors may opt for workload assignments that reduce the emphasis on research/creative activity, both faculty members and chairs should be careful, first, that these variable workload plans do not inhibit progress towards promotion to full professor, and second, that these workload plans do not inhibit the research/creative activity productivity of the department as a whole.
In some instances, faculty teaching load can be reduced from the standard load when the faculty member assumes extraordinary teaching responsibilities in a particular semester. Such instances could include but are not limited to teaching courses with unusually high enrollments, or demanding preparation requirements. Units must establish standards that can be used to determine when a particular teaching assignment warrants a reduction in the total number of courses a faculty member is assigned in a given semester.
Examples of other activities that could warrant a course reduction include but are not limited to reassignment of duties, significant administrative responsibilities (e.g. chair, program director, associate chair, undergraduate coordinator, and graduate coordinator), major service contributions, maintaining an active research laboratory, and course buyouts associated with external funding. Units should indicate in their workload document exactly what is meant by any activity for which teaching load adjustments might be made. As a general principle, a faculty member should not be assigned fewer than 2 courses per year through buyouts associated with external funding (excluding fellowships).
Faculty who hold distinguished professorships or named chairs are expected to make distinctive and exceptional contributions in the primary area (teaching, service, research) associated with their appointment. Workload requirements, including teaching load expectations, are typically specified in an appointment contract.
Overall, teaching loads below the equivalent of 2-2 (see Section VI) should be assigned only when the faculty member’s contribution to the department’s mission is clearly exceptional. Units must establish thresholds required for such exceptional reductions.
VI. Additional Factors for Determining Workload Variations
A. Contact Hours
Some units in CLAS include contact hours as a factor in determining teaching load. The use of contact hours appears to be particularly appropriate in those situations where the number of credit hours a course yields is disproportionate to the required instructional time (e.g. a one credit hour lab with a three hour instruction meeting time). If the unit elects to utilize contact hours in determining teaching loads, it must explain how the contact hours are calculated.
B. Class Size
Units across CLAS teach a variety of courses that are characterized by different enrollment patterns. Because the size of a class can affect both the way a particular course is taught and the effort required to teach the class, units must maintain the flexibility to account for those enrollment patterns as appropriate. It is assumed that units will strive to maintain an equitable balance and rotation in course assignments in so far as possible so that there is a shared teaching workload among faculty. Units may elect to distinguish “large enrollment” classes from other classes in their curriculum for the purpose of determining faculty teaching load. In such cases, the unit must define what a “large enrollment” course is, how such a course affects the teaching load a faculty member is assigned, and why a reduced teaching load is necessary.
C. Honors Courses and Interdisciplinary Courses
Honors courses or interdisciplinary courses should be counted as any other course in a faculty member’s teaching load. Faculty should neither be expected to teach such classes as part of an overload, nor should it be assumed that such classes by their very nature constitute a heavier than normal teaching responsibility. Units should assign such courses in an equitable manner and in such frequency as appropriate to meet unit goals and objectives.
D. Graduate Education
Units must develop standards to account for the workload of faculty who make a heavy commitment to graduate education (advising graduate students, supervising theses and dissertations). Graduate classes should constitute a normal part of a faculty member’s teaching load. Faculty should neither be expected to teach such classes as part of an overload, nor should it be assumed that such classes by their very nature constitute a heavier than normal teaching responsibility. Faculty should be assigned graduate courses in an equitable manner consistent with the goals and objectives of the unit.
E. New Courses and Multiple Preparations
Faculty generally have a core repertoire of courses upon which they focus. At the same time, faculty may be expected to teach new courses and/or to assume a teaching load consisting of multiple preparations. Chairs should be mindful of the commitment required to develop new courses and the potential impact that multiple preparations, particularly of newly taught courses, can have on overall faculty teaching loads. As a general principle, probationary faculty should not be expected to assume teaching loads heavily subscribed with new courses and multiple course preparations.
F. Independent Studies, Directed Readings, and Undergraduate Research
Many units offer instruction through independent studies, directed readings, and /or undergraduate research. Units must develop procedures to ensure that such instructional outlets are appropriately used and are accountable. Units should ensure that no faculty member is overburdened with any of these instructional modes. With respect to undergraduates, in particular, units must adhere to Academic Integrity Regulations as stated in the University of North Carolina Policy Manual, Regulations 700.6.1[R] III and IV. In addition, the Office of the Provost’s Guidelines for Independent Study recommends that a faculty member may teach a maximum of three independent study students in addition to their regular teaching load each term. The Department Chair has the final oversight and authority over the number of independent study students an instructor may supervise in a given term. As a general principle, supervision of independent studies and/or directed readings should not affect the teaching load assigned to a faculty member.
Units handle advising responsibilities in different ways. Some units delegate advising responsibilities to professional advisors; other units delegate advising responsibilities among faculty. In those units where advising is delegated among faculty, chairs should ensure that advising responsibilities are assigned in such a way so as not to create inequitable faculty workloads. While advising should generally not affect teaching load, units should retain the flexibility to consider advising responsibility in conjunction with teaching load where doing so promotes equity in total workload and furthers unit goals and objectives.
H. Leaves, Reassignment of Duties, and Fellowships
Faculty may be awarded various types of personal leaves (FMLA, paid, unpaid), campus-based reassignment of duties, or externally-funded fellowships. In no case should the award of personal leave, reassignment of duties, or a fellowship affect the faculty member’s teaching load in the semester(s) following completion of the leave, reassignment of duties, or fellowship.
VII. Review and Rewards
Faculty workload should be reviewed regularly to ensure that each individual is making an equitable contribution to the department’s mission, and that the workload assignment is appropriate for the career trajectory of the faculty member. Crucial to the success of departmental workload policies are clear guidelines governing the process by which a faculty member’s workload assignment is evaluated and reviewed and also the procedures by which the different contributions that faculty make to the departmental mission are evaluated and rewarded in the annual merit process. To that end:
- Department workload policies must articulate a clear timetable for review of faculty workload assignments. Units can establish an appropriate process for such review or utilize established review processes (e.g. annual review process, the five year post-tenure review process) for this purpose.
- Mechanisms must be in place to provide faculty with adequate warnings that their research productivity is no longer at the level commensurate with the faculty member’s current workload assignment. Similarly, guidance on research productivity expectations that would allow faculty to switch to a research-intensive workload track should be clearly articulated.
- When a significant adjustment is made in a faculty member’s workload (e.g. increasing or decreasing teaching load) that adjustment should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is appropriate. In adjusting teaching loads based on faculty productivity, a three-year time frame that excludes periods of FMLA, unpaid leave, or full-time administrative commitments should be assessed.
- Department workload policies must articulate how workload assignments relate to annual merit review policies. Specifically, workload and merit policies should be linked so that faculty’s workload assignments provide them with opportunities to excel and to be suitably recognized through merit adjustments. In no circumstances should a faculty member’s workload assignment structurally limit their ability to benefit from salary increases.
- Differential workload assignments will generally not have a bearing on expectations for tenure since it is assumed that all untenured faculty are on the research-intensive load. Differential workload assignments will also generally not have a bearing on expectations for promotion.
- Alan Dow, Mathematics and Statistics
- Bill Hill, Dean’s Office
- Bernadette Donovan-Merkert, Chemistry
- Steve Sabol, History
- James Tabor, Religious Studies
- Beth Whitaker, Political Science and Public Administration
 Note that the standard teaching load for non-tenure-track faculty, such as lecturers, is 8 courses per year. Please refer to the CLAS Lecturer Policy statement for a discussion of Lecturer workload.
 Regulation 700.6.1[R] III. All campuses will have processes and policies to ensure that all forms of individualized instruction conform to the basic guidelines pertaining to other undergraduate courses, including but not limited to a syllabus or learning contract specifying expected student learning outcomes, number of hours of expected work, grading information, and scheduled meeting times with the faculty member. – Effective September 2013
Regulation 700.6.1[R] IV.A: All campuses will have guidelines on the number of undergraduate independent studies a faculty member may teach per term. If campuses choose to enumerate a limited number of circumstances under which exception to these limits may be approved, guidelines must enumerate the required individuals (by position) who must grant approval. – Effective September 2013
CLAS Workload Policy (Revised January 24, 2014) View