Draft April 25, 2024: UNCG Policy and Regulations on Faculty Workload

Posted on April 25, 2024

UNCG Policy and Regulations on Faculty Workload

Draft April 25, 2024

I. Purpose:

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s mission is to “redefine the public research university for the twenty-first century as an inclusive, collaborative, and responsive institution making a difference in the lives of students and the communities it serves.” Faculty members are one of the cornerstones of this institutional mission and contribute to it through various work activities, as recognized in the UNC System Policy on Faculty Workload (400.3.4). These activities include teaching, mentoring, and advising; research and creative activities; community engagement and/or directed professional activities; and institutional, professional, and public service.

Many factors may play a legitimate role in assigning faculty workload beyond a traditional 4/4 model. Workload assignments should account for faculty members who teach exceptionally large sections within their particular discipline and recognizing a great variation in “normal” class sizes by discipline.  Workload assignments should also acknowledge additional responsibilities for research, scholarship, and/or creative activities, advising, mentoring, service, administrative duties, community engagement, and other activities. Thus, adjustable teaching loads may be used to reflect these individual differences.  Criteria for such adjustable teaching loads should be clearly documented and clarified in the unit level policy. Finally, differences in service workload should account for distinct time commitments that result from serving at the department/school/program, unit, University, or System levels; or between regional, state, national, and international professional services; or between serving as a member of a committee compared to serving as a chair. This policy provides flexibility for different types of service to be recognized at different percentages of workload.

Within this context, the intent of this University policy is to set forth equitable and fair guidelines for faculty workload that advance UNCG’s academic mission, recognize the wide variety of workload areas to which faculty contribute, and maintain compliance with both the UNC System Policy on Faculty Workload (400.3.4) and the Regulation on Faculty Workload (400.3.4[R]).  Previous guidelines on faculty workload at UNCG focused primarily on faculty teaching loads without sufficient attention to the totality of workload, including research/creative activities and all the various forms of service.

II. Scope and Definitions:

  • Faculty covered by this UNCG policy hold benefits-earning appointments (0.75 FTE or greater), regardless of faculty employment category (i.e., tenured, tenure-track, or professional-track faculty in the colleges/schools and the University Libraries).
  • Workload is defined in this policy as all activities in which faculty engage as part of their employment with the University, including teaching, mentoring, and advising; research, scholarship, and creative activities; community engagement and/or directed professional activities; and institutional, professional, and public service. More details about these activities, including specific forms of activity within these categories, are provided in this document.
  • Academic Unit refers to the colleges, schools (excluding the schools within an academic unit), and the University Libraries.
  • Faculty Supervisors refers to department heads, department chairs, program directors, school directors, and any other administrative position officially authorized to direct faculty activity.
  • Differentiated Workload refers to the practice of assigning differential levels of teaching, research and creative activities, and service workload to individual faculty members based on the specific needs of the University, department, school, and program, and in consideration of factors such as course level, class size, whether a class is team taught, and other factors as indicated in System Policy 400.3.4’s explanation of differential teaching loads. Academic Unit, department and program policies that incorporate differentiated workloads must address requirements described in section III below. 
  • Directed Professional Activity refers to These activities assigned by a dean or a direct faculty supervisor (subject to approval of the Dean) that fall within the broad category of service but may also encompass other activities and may be defined differently from one discipline to another. Directed Professional Activities may include but are not limited to the following:
    • Program Direction or Coordination.
    • Administrative or service functions provided by individuals who, in conjunction with their faculty rank, hold some administrative title or position other than Dean or one of the faculty supervisor titles (e.g., Director of Credentialing or a Director of Campus Services).
    • Faculty who do not hold a separate title but are assigned academic unit or department/school/program duties like those of staff.  [This practice may occur in different forms or arenas depending on the field (e.g., in CVPA such duties may focus on production-related obligations).]
  • Teaching includes but is not limited to classroom teaching, community-engaged instruction, mentoring (intensive, one-on-one advising of undergraduate or graduate students), “Clinical supervision” may count as a teaching activity and librarianship. Teaching refers to: instruction of organized courses as well as, instructional efforts such as developing materials for a new course, updating materials for an existing course, developing courseware or other materials for technology-based instruction, supervising undergraduate research and masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations, directing students in co-curricular activities such as plays, preparing and equipping new laboratories, supervision of teaching assistants, supervision of internships, academic advising, mentoring, and other activities that support student success.
  • Research and/or Creative Activity includes but is not limited to empirical laboratory work, field research, experimentation, community-based and community-engaged research, literature review and synthesis, theory development, preparation of manuscripts, artworks or other scholarly products, applying for internal and/or external funding, conducting funded research, presentation at research or other scholarly meetings, traveling for research or other scholarship, and dissemination of findings and other scholarly products to the public.  Sponsored program funding is important to the University; however, research and creative activity outcomes are important to the University mission, whether it leads to, or is a result of, external funding. Research and Creative Activity refers to the work of discovering, disseminating, and applying knowledge and professional expertise, including, but not limited to, working in laboratories and studios, conducting empirical and/or theoretical research, engaging in development or translational work, and/or producing creative works or scholarship, writing articles, monographs, and grant proposals, editing scholarly journals, preparing juried art exhibits, directing centers and institutes, or performing in plays, concerts, or musical recitals.
  • Service includes but is not limited to community engagement and service to the department or school or program, academic unit, institution, profession/discipline, and University System. Service may include undergraduate advising that requires less mentorship, and it may also include “clinical supervision” as a different form of community-engagement activity than is defined by Teaching. It refers to activities that advance the work of UNC Greensboro and its role in supporting North Carolina, as well as enhancing the scholarly life of the university or the discipline, improving the quality of life or society, or promoting the general welfare of UNC Greensboro, and engaging with professional and academic societies, the community, the state, the nation, or international community, and includes community engagement and/or Directed Professional Activity, and administrative assignments, including but not limited to, department chair/head, program director, and center director.

III. Policy and Procedures:

  • This policy provides general guidelines for faculty workload across all Academic Units of the University. Each academic unit shall establish, publish, monitor, and report on a workload policy that sets forth fair and equitable guidelines that enable each Academic Unit to best utilize its faculty members and align their efforts in accordance with this policy, the UNC System Policy on Faculty Workload (400.3.4), and the Regulation on Faculty Workload (400.3.4[R]), keeping in mind student success and financial considerations and in alignment with the missions of the University, Academic Unit, department/school, and program.
  • Given the discipline-specific nature of workload, deans may require the development of workload guidelines at the department/school/program level, which recognize that the proportions of assigned faculty activities may vary, depending on Academic Unit or department level needs. Such guidelines, if developed, are subject to approval by the Dean and must be consistent with the relevant Academic Unit-level workload policies and this University-level policy.
  • Academic Unit level workload policies are subject to approval by the Dean and Provost. Policies submitted must accomplish the following:
    • Establish typical percentages of effort for Teaching Research, and Service for faculty in each academic unit, as these categories of effort are described in the UNC System Policy on Faculty Workload (400.3.4) and the Regulation on Faculty Workload (400.3.4[R], for each faculty appointment type, that combined constitute 1.0 FTE for full-time faculty (or 0.75 FTE for faculty on ¾-time appointments or 0.875 FTE for faculty on 7/8-time appointments) in a manner consistent with the missions of both UNCG and the Academic Unit.
    • Provide criteria for departments/programs to apply when adopting a Differentiated Workload.  Faculty are normally expected to engage in Teaching, Research, and Service in percentages of effort described in this policy. Academic Unit policies that incorporate Differentiated Workloads must require that each differential assignment is justified, explain how differential assignments are determined, and quantify elements of the 1.0 FTE assignment (or assigned elements proportional to reduced FTE) to maintain workload equity across the unit.
    • Address the determination of work effort for programs and courses that require the supervision of clinical practice based on factors such as but not limited to discipline, accreditation requirements, and delivery (e.g., indirect or direct supervision).
  • Academic Units are granted flexibility to specify the means and extent by which Teaching, Research and Service count towards a faculty member’s total workload, consistent with this University policy and the System Policy.  This flexibility is contingent on meeting the pedagogical and instructional needs of the departments, schools, and colleges, and the core instructional mission of the institution, including support of student success, and must consider the financial realities and implications.
  • Any Academic Unit that does not implement its own workload policy will default to this University workload policy until such an Academic Unit policy is established. Likewise, any department/school/program that does not implement its own workload policy will default to the Academic Unit workload policy or, if a unit workload policy does not exist, this University workload policy.

IV. Role of Faculty Supervisors

  • Faculty supervisors are responsible for working cooperatively with faculty to establish individual workloads consistent with the 1.0 FTE requirement (or equivalent for faculty appointed at less than full-time) that recognize individual faculty members’ contributions to the University in alignment with institutional policies, procedures, resources, and mission and with student success and financial implications, and department and institutional needs.  
  • Faculty supervisors have responsibility and authority to adjust workload as they deem appropriate, consistent with the principles in this policy and UNC System policy, subject to approval by the Dean.
  • Faculty members’ agreement with their workload assignments is desirable; however, faculty supervisors hold responsibility and authority for the issuance of faculty workload assignments, subject to review and approval by the Dean.
  • Faculty supervisors must establish an annual workload plan for each faculty member holding an appointment of 0.75 FTE or greater. This plan provides a basis for the faculty member’s annual evaluation.
  • During faculty annual reviews, the Faculty Supervisor is expected to acknowledge circumstances when the dynamic nature of faculty workload necessitated changes to the faculty member’s predicted workload and workload plan and to consider these factors appropriately in faculty performance evaluations.

V. Workload Expectations

  • Each full-time faculty member will engage in work responsibilities equal to their FTE status, as assigned by their faculty supervisor.
  • Academic Unit policies shall operationalize the process for establishing individual faculty workload expectations in accordance with the respective missions of each Academic Unit, student success, and fiscal considerations, and in a collaborative process between faculty and their supervisor. Recognizing the variation that exists in terms of faculty experience and position types (e.g., tenure stream in contrast to professional track), faculty supervisors should strive to ensure equity among their faculty in the assignment of workload responsibilities.
  • All employees whose primary job classification is as a faculty member with an appointment at 0.75 FTE or more, regardless of contract length and including faculty members who also hold administrative roles, must have a workload plan. Faculty members who are employed on less than a nine-month annual basis or are less than ¾-time may have a workload plan if directed by their academic unit.
  • As teaching and instruction are the central responsibility and critical base of the UNC System, teaching shall serve as the first component when determining faculty workload assignments.
    • A 1.0 FTE workload during the academic year (traditional 9-month period of faculty employment) is defined as (1) a teaching load of 24 credit hours or equivalent contact hours per academic year, which accounts for 80% of workload; and (2) other faculty assignments representing 20% of workload that further the mission of the academic unit and institution, such as committee work and other forms of service. This policy and the System Policy allow for flexibility and individual planning for workload and field conventions, such as that tenure-track faculty are generally expected to carry out research, scholarship, and/or creative activities as part of their workload and therefore faculty with research expectations and outcomes typically teach less than 24 credit hours per academic year. The workload for an appointment of less than 1.0 FTE shall modify the above definition of workload in a manner that is proportional to the FTE.
    • A typical 3-credit hour (or equivalent contact hours) organized class is equivalent to 10% of workload. However, upon approval of the Dean, a Differentiated Workload may be assigned.  
    • This framework does not necessarily equate to a 4/4 teaching workload for all faculty members (i.e., 4 course assignments in the Fall semester and 4 in the Spring semester). Instead, workload shall be measured through percentages, with percentages assigned to each category of faculty workload. These categories should align with how a faculty member is evaluated during annual reviews and in future opportunities for promotion.
    • Faculty are expected to engage in collaborative discussion with the Faculty Supervisor about the workload needs of the department, school, or program. These faculty supervisors hold responsibility and authority for the issuance of faculty workload assignments, subject to review and approval by the Dean.
    • The workload of Heads, Chairs, and school/program Directors will be set by the Dean. In the case of Deans and other administrative faculty, workload will be set by the Provost or the Provost’s designee.
    • In addition to confirming each faculty member’s percentage of work effort by category (Teaching, Research, and Service), a faculty workload plan shall specify outcomes a faculty member is expected to achieve. Furthermore, these outcomes must be aligned with the faculty member’s annual reviews and demonstrate a clear link to all relevant expectations for reappointment, promotion, tenure, and/or post-tenure review, as appropriate. Workload plans should be designed with the missions of UNCG and the faculty member’s academic unit and department/school/program in mind, and with student success and fiscal considerations.

V. Revision of Faculty Workload Plans Due to a Significant Change in Circumstance

  • During the academic year, a significant circumstance may arise that justifies modifications to a faculty member’s workload plan. For example, a faculty member may be awarded an exceptionally large grant or contract mid-year that persuades the faculty supervisors to change the individual’s teaching workload.  criteria for workload modification in such circumstances may be determined at the unit level. Such workload changes will be made in cases only where the newly arising circumstance represents a new component of the faculty member’s assignment that is approved by the faculty supervisor. Faculty may not adopt a new assignment of primarily personal interest and have their official University workload modified to accommodate such a new assignment
  • When a significant circumstance occurs and justifies revision of the workplan, as described above, the plan and statement of expected outcomes should be revised at that time, with all changes subject to approval of the faculty supervisor and the Dean, and the circumstances shall be acknowledged by the faculty supervisor in the affected faculty member’s annual review.

VI. Faculty Responsibilities During Off-Contract Periods

  • Teaching assignments and other faculty activities that are conducted during the academic year shall normally be completed during the faculty member’s contractual period (e.g., the 9-month or greater period under contract).
  • When circumstances prevent faculty from completing assignments during the contract period, faculty must address any outstanding responsibilities in a timely manner. In many cases, the assignment must be completed during the faculty member’s off-contract period, such as the summer months or during academic year break periods. An example may include resolving incomplete grade assignments. Faculty must also be available for communication regarding these matters, if necessary, during the non-contract period.
  • Faculty are also expected to respond within a reasonable time to their supervisor and/or Dean, in person or via electronic means, including on those rare occasions when communications during off-contract periods are deemed essential to the academic year work of the department, school, program, academic unit, or institution. These essential communications would be time-sensitive and pertain to the faculty member’s University duties or expectations.