Scott Walker’s Smart Higher Ed Proposal

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

The governor of Wisconsin has provoked the ire of the higher education establishment in the state by suggesting that professors on the state payroll spend less and work more. “In the future, by not having the limitation of things like shared governance, they might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class a semester,” Governor Scott Walker told reporters at the Madison hotel. “Things like that could have tremendous impact on making sure we have an affordable education for all of our UW campuses at the same time we maintain a high-quality education.”

scott walker wisconsin

The “shared governance” that the governor referred to is a cherished perk that faculty get in which they can that allows them to literally share in university decision-making with college presidents. Yet and still, the teacher work loads are a sensitive subject with the professoriate.

“Word of Walker’s remarks about faculty teaching loads needing to be heavier prompted UW-Madison to release a faculty workload survey from February 2014,” Karen Herzog reported in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “The survey yielded 191 full responses from biological sciences, humanities, physical science and social studies departments, according to UW-Madison.”

“Of those who responded, 96% said they teach, supervise and mentor undergraduate students and spend an average of 14.2 hours per week instructing undergraduates and an average 4.2 hours per week advising and mentoring. All reported research activities as part of their work, with an average of 8.4 hours per week spent on research/creative work with students. The total time spent with research, scholarship or creative work was an average 21.3 hours per week.”

Thus by their own rather elastic definition, professors in the University of Wisconsin system spend 26.8 hours a week teaching or involved in teaching-related activities. That’s way short of the 40 hours a week most of us are used to working.

As for the 12.9 hours of “research/creative time” that they get to themselves: Most of us have to do that off the clock.