The workload for Utah university and college faculty members ranges from 43.7 hours to 55 hours a week. The hours are near or above the national average of 46 hours per week for faculty, says a State Board of Regents report released Friday.
The report looks at three major activities that make up the faculty workload - instruction; research/scholarly work; and institutional and community service.Although the report didn't say so, the data are essentially an answer to the those who have criticized faculty teaching loads, specifically at the University of Utah. Merrill Cook and other tax initiative supporters focused on increasing teaching loads as a way to cut the higher education budget. Legislators and the legislative auditor general had also asked the regents for more information on faculty workload.
"If there is any issue not understood by the public and the Legislature, it is faculty workloads," said Cecelia H. Foxley, associate commissioner of higher education for academic affairs.
She said that teaching, while consuming the bulk of a professor's or instructor's time and effort, is not his total responsibility. Additionally, the actual hours in the classroom are only part of the teaching duties, which also include working with and advising students, grading and course preparation.
The report puts the state's nine colleges and universities into three categories - teaching and research universities, metropolitan/regional universities and community colleges.
Foxley said it would be unfair to lump them all together, considering the different missions of the schools.
The higher education official pointed out that although a national average of 46 hours is used, that statistic comes from an older study. There is no current, good data on faculty workloads, but "clearly the 43 to 55 hours is within any national average range," she said.
If the institutions are examined for credit hours - the number of actual hours in the classroom - the U. and USU range from 9 to 12.2 credit hours, the report shows. The national average for similar institutions is 6 to 7.3 credit hours.
At WSU and SUU, the credit hours per faculty member range from 11.2 to 15.4 credit hours, while the national average is 11 to 11.2, according to the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, the report says.
For CEU, Dixie, Snow, SLCC and UVCC, the credit hours range from 14.6 to 15.7 hours, compared to a national average of 15.1 credit hours, it says.
Foxley said Utah faculty are highly productive but their compensation is below average. Statistics released last week to the Joint Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee showed that Utah faculty salaries are 19 to 34 percent below their out-of-state peers at comparable institutions.
"If we are above average in workloads and below average in compensation, what does that do to our ability to attract faculty?" Foxley asked.
Hours per week
A survey released Friday shows Utah college and university professors and instructors carry a workload commensurate with their peers nationwide:
Southern Utah University 56 hours
Weber State University 55 hours
University of Utah 54.7 hours
Dixie College 54.2 hours
College of Eastern Utah 53.8 hours
Utah State University 53.7 hours
Snow College 51.1 hours
Utah Valley Community Coll. 44.8 hours
Salt Lake Community Coll. 43.7 hours
National average 46 hours