Equity was one of the major issues during consolidation, and not just for faculty. While faculty who had been hired by regional campuses to teach undergraduate courses worried about the Administration imposing research expectations - without providing corresponding resources - politicians and community leaders in both the St. Petersburg and Sarasota / Manatee communities publicly hoped and expected their campuses to share not only in the pre-eminence status acquired by USF Tampa but also the fruits of the scholarship of a local research powerhouse. And students hoped to matriculate in a Research I institution - no matter which campus they attended.
In this issue, we look at an indicator for equity: teaching assignments. This is a crude indicator, for instructional duties often extend beyond teaching assignments, and service and research duties often are in support of instruction, but teaching assignments can indicate the expectations and priorities of the Administration. For example, while undergraduates do research - occasionally supported by external funding - frontier research is often done by faculty and graduate students. Thus a Research I institution will usually allocate substantial resources to graduate programs in academic units that are expected to produce a great deal of scholarship (and, in this mercenary world, external funding).
The USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida will meet tomorrow Friday at 12 noon on Zoom. On the agenda: summer plans, dealing with effects of recent legislation, and more. And here are the minutes for the previous meeting.
Any employee in the Bargaining Unit may attend, but to Zoom in you must have an invitation: contact the Chapter Secretary to get one.
Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Here is the membership form. Come and join the movement.
If you have been the victim of a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement or the recent Memorandum of Understanding, you have thirty days from the time you knew or should have known of the violation to file a grievance. If you are, and at the time of the violation were, a dues-paying member of the United Faculty of Florida, you have the right to union representation. To contact the UFF USF Grievance Committee, go to the Grievances Page.
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.
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The indispensable resource for any university is faculty and professional labor, and like many institutions, USF measures labor in terms of the amount of time allocated for each assignment, which is measured as a percentage of their entire on-the-job time. A faculty member can be assigned 0.25 FTE (or "Full Time Equivalent") to teach a three-hour course, which means that their supervisor anticipates that the faculty member dedicates 25% of their on-the-job time to preparing for class, leading the class, composing homework / tests / etc., and grading homework / tests / etc. (What about time for course design? We will discussing that in tomorrow's chapter meeting.) Assuming a forty-hour week, that would be ten hours per week on average.
Notice the assumption that a three-hour course is one-fourth of a full-time assignment. The traditional assumption was that four three-hour courses a term was a full-time load; more than that will result in corners being cut and students not getting the instruction that they deserve (and that they, their parents, and the taxpayers paid for).
But USF’s assignment accounting is more complicated than just counting each three-hour course as 25% of a full-time load. For an institution whose courses range from tutorial piano lessons to mass lectures (which includes overseeing teaching assistants), there is an apples v oranges v watermelons problem: different courses can require quite different resources. In addition, there has been a - ahem - decline in realistic accounting as some supervisors squeeze more items into assignments by reducing the amount of time allocated to each item (while maintaining the same outcome expectations). For example, last fall, the median allocation for a three-hour course with at least three students was 22.5% FTE (that's nine hours a week) while the mean was 19% FTE (that's seven hours and 36 minutes). In fact, a third of the FTE allocations for a three-hour course with at least three students was 16% or less (that's 6 hours and 24 minutes). (The range of FTE allocations for three hour courses with at least three students ranged from 0.0002 FTE (29 seconds in a 40-hour week) to 55% FTE (22 hours in a 40-hour week).)
If we regard FTE as a resource allocation, then it is a reflection of the Administration's priorities. With that in mind, we look at the choices that the Administration made in instruction last fall. Here are the mean FTE assignments for undergraduate instruction and for graduate instruction per professor (at any rank) for each major college and each campus housing several faculty from that college (for faculty in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit):
|Arts & Sci||Sar/Man||54%||2%|
|Arts & Sci||St. Pete||39%||14%|
|Arts & Sci||Tampa||29%||16%|
|Beh Comm Sci||Sar/Man||33%||11%|
|Beh Comm Sci||St. Pete||45%||0%|
|Beh Comm Sci||Tampa||18%||20%|
|Marine Sci||St. Pete||46%||32%|
This table was compiled from a list provided by the USF Administration of all courses taught last fall. We looked only at full-time employees listed as some kind of Professor - or as an Eminent Scholar - for whom we could determine their home campus (using mailboxes or the Directory to determine home campuses).
One important caveat. FTE assignments are allocations of resources, and should reflect the amount of faculty labor to be dedicated to that assignment. However, catalog course hours typically reflect contact hours, and in theory reflect that amount of time and effort that each student is to dedicate to that course. As mentioned above, three credit hours translates to 25% assignment for less than half of the three-hour courses, and the ratio can be wilder for other courses: while the typical course is three hours, there are zero-hour courses and there are twelve-hour courses.
We composed a similar table for instructors (all ranks, again in the UFF USF Bargaining Unit):
|Arts & Sci||Sar/Man||86%||1%|
|Arts & Sci||St. Pete||83%||1%|
|Arts & Sci||Tampa||69%||7%|
|Beh Comm Sci||Tampa||37%||30%|
Just as the USF Administration makes priority decisions by allocating resources, so does the government of the State of Florida. While legislators did a lot of culture warring this Spring, they were unusually generous with the budget. For example, the Legislature increased USF's operating budget by $55 million and allocated $75 million towards a new Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Teaching center at USF St. Petersburg (and, ahem, $73 million towards maintenance and repair of USF buildings, which need it). A number of other funded projects were listed in President Law's letter to the USF community, in which she thanked the Tampa Bay legislative delegation, especially House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson.
On June 2, Governor DeSantis signed what he called the Freedom First Budget after vetoing 3% of the allocations, including the Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Teaching center (and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg - Citizen Scholar Partnership). He did not give any reason why these projects were de-prioritized. Altogether, the eleven-plus pages of vetoes seems to have surprised and disappointed many Tampa Bay community leaders - including the Tampa Bay Times, which was unhappy about the Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences center.
(Interestingly, other high-profile projects pushed by the legislative leadership were also vetoed, despite the Legislature's support for the governor's legislative program. Nevertheless, the leadership stood by and smiled at the cameras as the governor signed, a scene perhaps a little reminiscent of Eric Idle in Monty Python's Piranha Brothers sketch.)
Still, thanks to the Legislature (and union and education lobbyists who educated legislators), USF is slated to receive $245 million this coming year, so from an optimist's point of view, our glass is three-quarters full.
The next chapter meeting will be tomorrow Friday, June 10, at 12:00, on Zoom. All UFF USF members are welcome: for the Zoom link, contact the Chapter Secretary.the Chapter Secretary. Come and join the movement.
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About this broadcast: This Newsletter was broadcast from uff.ourusf.org, hosted at ICDsoft.com, and is intended for all members of the UFF USF Bargaining unit (USF faculty and professionals at most departments). A (usually identical) version will be broadcast to USF-News and USF-Talk from email@example.com.