Policy focuses on teaching overloads

Posted Sept. 22, 2006

Concerned that the quality of instruction could decline if faculty members are spread too thin, University officials have established a new policy limiting the number of overload classes professors may teach.

Most full-time faculty members regularly teach three classes per semester, with anything above that considered an overload, for which they are paid extra.

The new policy limits faculty to teaching no more than two overload classes a semester.

“We are concerned about the quality of teaching in the classrooms,” Frank Montalvo, chief human resource officer, said. “There are a lot of overloads.”

Montalvo added that the University is aware that some professors teach overloads to earn more extra money. So, he said the University is also working to increase the base salaries for professors.

To than end, many faculty members received “market adjustment” raises on top of their annual raises this September. Though the University still needs to be more competitive, as similar colleges and universities still pay more both for full-time faculty and part-timers whose numbers may need to increase as full-timers cut back on overloads.

Last year saw an increase of about $150 per course for part time teachers. Though we still need to do better.

ULV lost its competitive edge several years ago, said Sharon K. Davis, chairwoman of the faculty salary committee.

While some college and universities were upping the base salaries for some teachers, ULV kept their wages stagnant.

“We have to keep increasing until we are really competitive,” Davis said.

Davis added that she and other full-time faculty teach overload courses not only for the money, but also for the students.

Many times teachers have to open another section of a class; and many times these are specialty major classes, such as senior seminar, which only certain full-time faculty members can teach.

Davis said if she finds her senior seminar class for the sociology department is at maximum capacity and still has a handful of students who need to take that course to graduate, she has to open another section of the class and staff it with a full-timer.

There are also professors who teach overload courses because of a program they designed.

Often, teachers have a certain method they developed and are the only ones who know how to make it work.

“Some have committed themselves to long teaching hours,” Robert Neher, interim provost said. “These are quite specialized situations.”

The University also has been asking itself if the teachers can do better with fewer classes.

Rick Montañez can be reached at rick.montanez@hotmail.com.

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