Wednesday, April 18, 2012


We recently had a forum discussing governance at UMD.  The governance forum notes are provided as a summary of the brainstorming from that session.  These include ideas on structure as well as areas that could be considered under governance.

To provide a bit of background on that discussion I wanted to give some details about our current governance system.  We have a Campus Assembly, an Executive Committee (ECCA), and then 5 standing committees: Educational Policy Committee (EPC), Student Affairs Committee, Campus Budget Committee, Campus Physical Facilities Committee, and the Campus Athletic Committee.  ECCA is responsible for oversight of the Campus Assembly and all of the standing committees move items for vote up to the Campus Assembly.

The current Constitution outlines the role of the Campus Assembly.  The following sentence from the Constitution summarizes the role of the governance system (with the Campus Assembly at the head): "The assembly shall have the authority and responsibility to make recommendations to the chancellor on educational matters concerning the Duluth campus."

ECCA has proposed revisions to the Constitution and the revised document is now out for written ballot with the Campus Assembly.  An updated version of the By Laws were passed yesterday at Campus Assembly.  The Bylaws include the details on the membership and election of the standing committees.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

FAQ on the AWM: How can this possibly work?

How can this possibly work?

It works in one form right now -- you just have to write it down.  A good exercise would be to have everyone on a tenure/tenure track line or term line in your department write down what percentage of their time they spend on teaching, research, and service.  Look to your 7.12 statement to find out what is encompassed in each category.  For instance, teaching may include advising, assessment of student learning outcomes, class prep, and grading (and may vary depending on the size of the class, TA assistance, lab or studio sections, etc). This becomes the baseline for your department and should cover everything the department is doing now.

From there, the Department Head can work with the faculty to decide different distributions if desired.  The most simplistic way to think of this is by trading the red teaching blocks I have on the draft AWM.  In reality, you can compress or expand the total number of teaching blocks for the department by understanding that the blocks don't represent only credits or in-class contact hours, but rather all that is encompassed in your 7.12 section on teaching.  The same course taught by someone for the first time (or in a new delivery method) will take a different amount of time than it would for someone who has taught the same course many times. The flexibility could extend beyond course related activities into areas such as advising (IF your college and dept is comfortable with doing so).  Some faculty members who are excellent advisers and enjoy it could take more advisees and this would be represented in their AWM.

Once the teaching responsibilities are covered, then service needs and research should be incorporated as appropriate for the individual.  If the department has a very large service commitment at the University level or is producing a large amount of research, there are opportunities for the Department Heads to request additional course access from the Deans (who in turn ask the EVCAA).  From the economic side, if a large amount of sustainable funded research is being generated in the department, there is an ICR return that can potentially go to fund additional faculty lines from the EVCAA.  This is the same concept as the "course buyout model" used at some of the large research universities that enables very research active faculty to have smaller teaching loads.  At those universities, this may be taken to the extreme with the faculty member doing very little teaching.  At UMD, our faculty would still have a strong focus on teaching, so the teaching blocks should not disappear for even the most active researchers.

It's important to understand that the AWM can provide flexibility, but there are constraints.  For instance, all of the faculty in a department could not decide that they want minimum teaching and service and have the majority of their blocks in research.  The department as a whole must still meet the educational demands.  There is potential in the future for departments (and even colleges) to move out of their strict silos to meet the overall education demands in the same way (making cross listing of courses and other interdisciplinary ideas potentially easier to handle).


Adaptable Workload Model

Faculty members may have heard some discussions this past week about an Adaptable Work Load (AWM) model.  I prepared a draft for discussion (AWM).  At this point, I'm just putting out the draft as a way to get us thinking about ways to represent more accurately what you do in something other than a "one size fits all" percentage.  This AWM can be very flexible or can just be used to represent your current college practice.  Breakdowns such as 60-30-10% (teaching-research-service) are good representations for some people, but as we move toward more diverse activities (increasing research or service commitments) or consider the variance in activities for people at different points in their career, a single percentage breakdown becomes less applicable.

The idea is to represent what you are currently doing, not to automatically change everyone's workload.  It is a benefit to you to have your Department Head and Dean on the same page with you on your expectations, and then to have your merit based on meeting those expectations.

I've started to get some feedback from people this week and quite a few questions.  My next posts will summarize the FAQ (frequently asked questions) I've heard so far and I can add to the list as I get more.  Hopefully this will help your discussions.