E conomic factors and a large budget deficit are forcing administrators at the University of Toledo to come down hard on teaching staff and, some say, ultimately students.
Colleges within the university were addressed last week on structural changes that include new standards for teaching-loads of full-time faculty. Beginning Fall 2013, all full-time professors will be required to teach more courses, thereby reducing the need for part-time and visiting instructors.
Sources say close to 25% of the university's current teaching staff may lose their jobs with this cost-cutting plan.
Also at risk are courses with low-enrollment. The university boasts a student faculty ratio of 19:1 on its website, with a median class size of 24. Reducing course offerings could increase class sizes to 30+ students and significantly increase the number of students to faculty. That ratio, many faculty members feel, could alienate students and steer them towards other options for higher education.
The new standardized teaching loads for Univ. of Toledo professors, though within contractual guidelines, will expand teaching responsibilities while still allowing time for research, if applicable. Tenured and tenure-track professors will be expected to teach the maximum 12 credit hours per semester. Non-tenure track lecturers will be required to teach 15 credit hours per term. All requirements will be at the maximum of what is written in faculty contracts.
Despite the new guidelines and the need to reduce financial deficits, many faculty are frustrated by the proposed changes. Sources we spoke with Thursday said the mood among faculty on campus is tense, which is why they asked to remain anonymous. They say faculty members, some of whom have are rumored to have been hit with the "blue flu" over the last week, feel they have no option but to strike if requirements are not amended.
While there is no official word from UT's faculty union, a Faculty Senate meeting will be held Jan. 29 to discuss the newly proposed requirements. The university hopes to act upon their proposed changes in the immediate future.
In November, UT announced they would freeze all undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 academic year. That plan is to continue.
How will increasing teaching loads for faculty affect the quality of instruction given to students at UT? Share your thoughts below.