Monday, September 10, 2007

A functional law faculty actually can spell out its workload policy!

A/k/a "Why I'm having so much fun here at the Boyd School of Law, part n." I'm catching up on some emails circulated by our deans here at Boyd, and I've just skimmed the faculty workload policy. What I like about ours is that it doesn't hesitate to put its expectations up front. Here's just a sampling (from the policy for tenured faculty):

1. The following five general principles should guide the Deans in determining the workload of tenured faculty:

A. Tenured faculty should be at least as productive in teaching and scholarship as untenured, tenure-track faculty;

B. Credit for teaching must recognize all of the types of teaching, including in-class teaching, and out-of-class teaching, clinical teaching, directed research, etc.;

C. Teaching assignments should never be so onerous as to make it difficult or impossible for a tenured faculty member to do scholarly research during the school year;

D. Committee and other administrative assignments should never be so onerous as to make it difficult or impossible for tenured faculty members to do scholarly research during the school year;

E. The Deans should have flexibility to allocate different responsibilities to different faculty members at different times depending on the various types of contributions to be made.

And here's another excerpt:

In keeping with these general principles, the average tenured faculty member should . . . [p]ublish at least one significant law review article or its equivalent per year; and [s]erve every other year as chair of a major committee or its equivalent in the law school, the University, System, or the legal academy; or perform significant service every year to the law school or the legal community on a local, state, national, or international level.

Goodness! I can't tell you how many times some faculties at some other law schools (not just some of the ones with which I've been affiliated, but others as well) have said that it's "impossible" to spell out a fair workload policy. Ours has clear value judgments embedded in it:
  • Scholarship isn't something just for the summer.
  • Scholarship is part of our jobs, the same way that teaching is part of our jobs.
  • Just because we're tenured doesn't mean we're supposed to slack off. In fact, we're supposed to set good examples.

This community understanding of our workload is one of many reasons I love it here--even with the heat.


Jeff Yates said...

It sounds like some good policy is being made at the Boyd School. I'd be interested to hear how this view is received or interpreted by other law schools or social science departments.

Richard Peck said...

So, which is it?

Does having a functional faculty enable a law school to spell out a workload policy?

Or does spelling out a workload policy enable a law school to have a functional faculty?