Faculty workload includes teaching, research, and service/engagement. Each department has developed its own research policy, which is in line with the college policy.
As the University changes to meet new challenges including increasing enrollments and expanding ambitions in research, workload policies also must change to reflect the differing demands placed on faculty time and talent. This document sets forth guidelines for departmental workload policies for faculty within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The original document was drafted in 2014 by a committee of chairs and faculty from a range of departments in the College, in consultation with Dean Gutierrez. The document was revised on [date] to incorporate considerations of equity and social justice. The 2014 committee’s work was framed by an understanding of The Board of Governors’ policy on faculty teaching loads (Policy 400.3) which assigns UNC Charlotte faculty responsibility for five courses per year, and the recently drafted University Workload Policy, which underscores that requirement. The committee’s work was also framed by the realization that the College’s mission, as expressed in its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan and renewed in its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, encompasses primary commitments to expanding and enhancing research productivity and to both undergraduate and graduate education, while maintaining UNC Charlotte’s long-standing service commitment to the local and regional community and the state. All of the College goals identified in its Strategic Plans have some impact on faculty workload. The following are illustrative:
- To educate graduate students so that they are full participants in extending knowledge and proactively framing and addressing societal needs.
- To nurture a culture that embraces both fundamental and applied research and scholarship.
- To educate undergraduate students in the tradition of the Liberal Arts with depth of knowledge in a given field, so that they are empowered with knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of values, of ethics, and of the responsibilities for civic engagement.
- To build and enhance the intellectual community within the college for students, faculty, and staff.
- To extend intellectual inquiry and engagement into local, national, and global communities.
This Workload Policy document was revised in 2021 via a review of the 2014 document by the Policy Review Working Group on Race and Social Justice. The Working Group’s revision was guided by the College’s Mission Statement and 2015 Strategic goals, and in particular:
College Mission Statement (Item #3):
Diversity and Inclusion: We encourage a culture of intellectual and personal inclusion that rises above simplistic labels, and provides the means for understanding and negotiating the range of perspectives, experiences, and traditions essential to living ethically in an interdependent global culture.
College 2015 Strategic Plan (all four Goals, emphasis added):
- To educate a diverse student body through an integrated academic experience that positions graduates for personal success and civic responsibility in the global environment of the 21st century.
- To expand knowledge and leverage discovery for the public benefit through innovative programs of research, creative activities, and graduate education that span the disciplines.
- To engage community partners in mutually beneficial programs which enhance the economic, civic, and cultural vitality of the region.
- To provide for our faculty and staff a supportive infrastructure that includes excellent opportunities for professional development and mentoring.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences welcomes the diversity of contributions that each department and faculty member make to the development and success of the College and expects that the individual department workload policies will differ, reflecting each department’s important and unique contribution to the College as a whole. However, within this diversity, there are principles that should be common to all unit workload policies:
- Transparency: All departments in CLAS must have a written workload policy. The policy should be clearly articulated to faculty, reviewed regularly, and updated as necessary. The department chair should consult with the faculty in the unit when reviewing and updating the policy. The policy must be consistent with the CLAS Workload Policy and the University Workload Policy.
- Credit: The unit workload policy should define workload comprehensively, including faculty contributions to teaching, research, and service, such that the department can recognize and reward effort in all areas of faculty work.
- Equitable: The unit’s workload should be equitable, such that the range of faculty contributions to the department and College missions will be recognized.
- Context: The unit workload policy should allow the department to fulfill its mission as that relates to the missions of the College and the University, which includes maintaining course offerings sufficient to allow students to proceed through their degree programs in a timely manner. The unit workload policy should explicitly recognize the value of faculty contributions to the College’s mission to educate a diverse student body, create an equitable and inclusive environment of teaching, research and service, and to promote the civic good and the goals of racial and social justice.
- Clarity: The unit workload policy should clearly articulate the standards upon which workload adjustments in the unit may be awarded. As a general rule, workload adjustments should be based only on those activities that make a demonstrable contribution to the unit, College or University.
- Accountability: Departments must have mechanisms in place to ensure that faculty members fulfill their work obligations and receive credit for their labor.
III. Role of the Chair
The department chair is responsible for administering the unit’s workload policy. The department chair should ensure that all faculty make roughly equivalent contributions to the department’s combined teaching, research, and service missions. The department chair should also ensure that the department delivers the curriculum needed by its students, and that faculty workload is assigned in a consistent and transparent manner.
IV. Faculty Workload Expectations
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences should be home to a faculty who combine active participation in their academic discipline with high quality teaching of undergraduate and graduate students and service contributions to the University and community. Achieving this goal requires that faculty members’ workload assignments allow them to be successful in meeting each of these expectations, but in particular it carries the aspiration that faculty members in the College will continue to be active and productive members of a scholarly, creative, or professional community throughout their careers. Departmental workload policies for tenure-track faculty should take as a starting point the workload expectations for the “research-active” faculty member with the expectation that all tenure-track faculty will be research-intensive.. Departmental workload policies for all faculty, tenure track and non-tenure track, should make provision for variable workload assignments and provide clear criteria for reviewing faculty’s workload assignments and rewarding their contributions to the department’s mission. Workload policies for all faculty should recognize and encourage contributions that support the education of a diverse student body and promote an equitable and inclusive community inside and outside the University. Within this context, the standard teaching load for research-active tenure-track and tenured faculty is 5 courses per academic year. The standard teaching load for research-intensive tenure-track and tenured faculty is 4 courses per year. The standard workload for non-tenure track teaching faculty is 8 courses per academic year. A course is defined as an organized section using the Delaware study terminology as prescribed by the UNC System policy. The standard course workload may vary based on credit hours and/or contact hours taught in an organized section. Both graduate and undergraduate instruction apply to faculty workload. Service contributions to the University and the community are expected of faculty at all ranks. Standard expectations regarding workload distribution of effort appropriate to rank are outlined in Table 1 below. Specific expectations regarding the nature of service contributions should be set out in departmental guidelines and should be appropriate to rank. Service contributions which exceed the departmental standards should be explicitly acknowledged and agreed upon, and appropriate adjustments in workload should be made. The period of measurement for the workload policy is the academic year and does not include summer terms. This load is assigned to faculty who are meeting normal expectations appropriate for their appointment in research/ professional development and service.
The table below reports the College’s standard distribution of effort for Non-Tenure Track and Tenure-Track faculty:
|Non-Tenure Track Faculty, all ranks
|Research-Intensive Associate and Full Professor
|Research-Active Associate and Full Professor
The College recognizes that personal and external exigencies, such as natural disasters or pandemics, may require interim adjustments to the standard distribution of workload for faculty.
While the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences aspires to have research-intensive tenure-track faculty across departments and ranks, it recognizes that departmental missions are complex and multifaceted. Just as different departments will contribute in different ways to the overall mission of the College, different faculty members may contribute in different ways to the mission of the department. The College thus expects that departmental workload policies will make provision for variable workload assignments that will allow faculty to pursue their interests and strengths. Variable workload assignments will differ by department, but all faculty are expected to make some contributions in all three areas: teaching, research/professional development, and service. Variable workload assignments should be arranged by mutual consent of the faculty member and department chair for the next academic year at the time of Annual Evaluation.
V. Variable Teaching Loads
A. Research-Intensive Faculty
A reduced teaching load of fewer than five courses per year (2-2 for example) could be assigned to tenure-track faculty based upon “research–intensive” activity. Each department must define its own expectations for research-intensive. Normally such standards should take into consideration the types of scholarly or creative product typical in the discipline and the normal time frame for the preparation and dissemination of these accomplishments, and should be characterized by a demonstrated record of publication and/or grant related work, including both submission of proposals and award of external funding. Standards for research-intensive activity should embrace the following principles:
- All tenure-track faculty (untenured assistant professors) should have a research-intensive workload assignment, for demonstrable success in scholarship and/or creative activity is necessary for tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor.
- All departments should link their definitions of research-intensive status to criteria used to evaluate the quality and quantity of scholarship or creative activity used in the annual evaluation process and reappointment, tenure, and promotion decisions.
- Departments might benefit by defining research-intensive status for tenured faculty with reference to the level of professional accomplishment over a period of five years that is required to achieve tenure in the unit. See Section VII (bullet 3) for an explanation of time frames that should be considered when making an adjustment to teaching load.
- Departmental criteria may allow associate and full professors somewhat more flexibility in the particular contributions they make to research in their discipline, provided those contributions have a similarly significant impact in their fields.
A. Research-Active Faculty
Tenured faculty designated Research-Active should be assigned the standard tenure-track teaching load of five courses per year. Each department must define its own expectations for research-active. Normally such standards should take into consideration the types of scholarly or creative product typical in the discipline and the normal time frame for the preparation and dissemination of these accomplishments, and should be characterized by a demonstrated record of publication and/or grant related work, including both submission of proposals and award of external funding. Standards for research-active designation should require research at a reduced level from the standards for research -intensive, while still maintaining a regular schedule of research.
B. Teaching-Intensive Faculty
Variable workload assignments should establish options for tenured faculty in which they will devote less time to research and more to teaching and/or service. Tenured faculty whose primary contribution to the unit is in instruction are characterized as “teaching intensive” and should be assigned more than 5 courses per academic year (e.g. 3-3 or more). Faculty may be designated teaching intensive in those instances where doing so is consistent with the faculty member’s career trajectory, is necessary to meet the mission and objectives of the unit, or is necessary to ensure that all faculty are making roughly equivalent contributions to the unit’s mission and objectives. The assignment of increased teaching loads should be based upon standards clearly articulated and understood within the unit.
- In rare cases, tenured faculty may devote all of their efforts to teaching and service. In this instance, faculty carrying a standard service load should teach the equivalent of four courses per semester.
- While tenured associate professors may opt for workload assignments that reduce the emphasis on research/creative activity, both faculty members and chairs should be careful, first, that these variable workload plans do not inhibit progress towards promotion to full professor, and second, that these workload plans do not inhibit the research/creative activity productivity of the department as a whole.
In some instances, faculty teaching load can be reduced from the standard load when the faculty member assumes extraordinary teaching responsibilities in a particular semester. Such instances could include but are not limited to teaching courses with unusually high enrollments, or demanding preparation requirements. Units must establish standards that can be used to determine when a particular teaching assignment warrants a reduction in the total number of courses a faculty member is assigned in a given semester.
Examples of other activities that could warrant a course reduction include but are not limited to reassignment of duties, significant administrative responsibilities (e.g. chair, program director, associate chair, undergraduate coordinator, and graduate coordinator), major service contributions both formal and informal, substantial contributions to mentoring and advising students and colleagues (particularly those individuals from underrepresented populations), maintaining an active research laboratory, and course buyouts associated with external funding. Units should indicate in their workload document exactly what is meant by any activity for which teaching load adjustments might be made. As a general principle, a faculty member should not be assigned fewer than 2 courses per year through buyouts associated with external funding (excluding fellowships).
Faculty who hold distinguished professorships or named chairs are expected to make distinctive and exceptional contributions in the primary area (teaching, service, research) associated with their appointment. Workload requirements, including teaching load expectations, are typically specified in an appointment contract.
Overall, teaching loads below the equivalent of 2-2 (see Section VI) for reasons other than administrative load reductions should be assigned only when the faculty member’s contribution to the department’s mission is clearly exceptional. Units must establish thresholds required for such exceptional reductions.
VI. Variable Service Loads
Service/Leadership provides critical and necessary support for the College to accomplish its mission of teaching, scholarship, and community engagement, maintain a healthy system of faculty governance, and enact its values of equity and inclusion, and promotes racial and social justice. At the University level service and leadership include significant contributions to program and curriculum development, support and assessment; and faculty governance at the department, college or university level, and student support both co-curricular and extracurricular.
At the community level, service connects the faculty member with the community, whether local, national, or international, in an integrative approach that brings the faculty member’s professional expertise to the community in areas related to the University’s public-service objectives. At the professional level, service/leadership is comprised of the work performed in support of academic or professional organizations, including leadership roles, that a faculty member performs in support of academic or professional organizations.
The faculty member’s commitment of time and the quality of service work or leadership should be considered when assessing workload, including service and leadership that supports the College’s mission of advancing equity and inclusion. Service and leadership in support of these values includes programmatic or individual work to support students from historically underrepresented groups, work that develops and supports teaching that embodies the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, work that supports the development of university policies and practices that strive for diversity, equity and inclusion, community work that supports historically underrepresented groups and organizations that work on their behalf, and work that supports diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the discipline or profession. Service and leadership that exceeds the standard workload within the department and as appropriate to rank should receive compensation, either through reduced expectations for scholarship, teaching load or other service obligations.
VII. Additional Factors for Determining Workload Variations
A. Contact Hours
Some units in CLAS include contact hours as a factor in determining teaching load. The use of contact hours appears to be particularly appropriate in those situations where the number of credit hours a course yields is disproportionate to the required instructional time (e.g. a one credit hour lab with a three-hour instruction meeting time). If the unit elects to utilize contact hours in determining teaching loads, it must explain how the contact hours are calculated.
B. Class Size
Units across CLAS teach a variety of courses that are characterized by different enrollment patterns. Because the size of a class can affect both the way a particular course is taught and the effort required to teach the class, units must maintain the flexibility to account for those enrollment patterns as appropriate. It is assumed that units will strive to maintain an equitable balance and rotation in course assignments in so far as possible so that there is a shared teaching workload among faculty. Units may elect to distinguish “large enrollment” classes from other classes in their curriculum for the purpose of determining faculty teaching load. In such cases, the unit must define what a “large enrollment” course is, how such a course affects the teaching load a faculty member is assigned, and why a reduced teaching load is necessary.
C. Honors Courses and Interdisciplinary Courses
Honors courses or interdisciplinary courses should be counted as any other course in a faculty member’s teaching load. Faculty should neither be expected to teach such classes as part of an overload, nor should it be assumed that such classes by their very nature constitute a heavier than normal teaching responsibility. Units should assign such courses in an equitable manner and in such frequency as appropriate to meet unit goals and objectives.
D. Graduate Education
Units must develop standards to account for the workload of faculty who make a heavy commitment to graduate education (advising graduate students, supervising theses and dissertations). When assigned, graduate instruction should constitute a normal part of a faculty member’s teaching load. Faculty should neither be expected to teach graduate courses as part of an overload, nor should it be assumed that such classes by their very nature constitute a heavier than normal teaching responsibility. Faculty should be assigned graduate courses in an equitable manner consistent with the goals and objectives of the unit.
E. New Courses and Multiple Preparations
Faculty generally have a core repertoire of courses upon which they focus. At the same time, faculty may be expected to teach new courses and/or to assume a teaching load consisting of multiple preparations. Chairs should be mindful of the commitment required to develop new courses and the potential impact that multiple preparations, particularly of newly taught courses, can have on overall faculty teaching loads. As a general principle, probationary faculty should not be expected to assume teaching loads heavily subscribed with new courses and multiple course preparations.
F. Independent Studies, Directed Readings, and Undergraduate Research
Many units offer instruction through independent studies, directed readings, and /or undergraduate research. Units must develop procedures to ensure that such instructional outlets are appropriately used and are accountable. Units should ensure that no faculty member is overburdened with any of these instructional modes. With respect to undergraduates, in particular, units must adhere to Academic Integrity Regulations as stated in the University of North Carolina Policy Manual, Regulations 700.6.1[R] III and IV. In addition, the Office of the Provost’s Guidelines for Independent Study recommends that a faculty member may teach a maximum of three independent study students in addition to their regular teaching load each term. The Department Chair has the final oversight and authority over the number of independent study students an instructor may supervise in a given term. As a general principle, supervision of independent studies and/or directed readings should not affect the teaching load assigned to a faculty member.
Units handle advising responsibilities in different ways. Some units delegate advising responsibilities to professional advisors; other units delegate advising responsibilities among faculty. In those units where advising is delegated among faculty, chairs should ensure that advising responsibilities are assigned in such a way so as not to create inequitable faculty workloads. While advising should generally not affect teaching load, units should retain the flexibility to consider advising responsibility in conjunction with teaching load where doing so promotes equity in total workload and furthers unit goals and objectives.
G. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work
Faculty labor supporting diversity, equity and inclusion both within the University community and outside of it is often substantial even if informal. Unit workload policies should recognize the value of supporting the education of students from underrepresented populations as well as faculty work that furthers the work of creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive community.
H. Leaves, Reassignment of Duties, and Fellowships
Faculty may be awarded various types of personal leaves (FMLA, paid, unpaid), campus-based reassignment of duties, or externally-funded fellowships. In no case should the award of personal leave, reassignment of duties, or a fellowship affect the faculty member’s teaching load in the semester(s) following completion of the leave, reassignment of duties, or fellowship.
VII. Review and Rewards
Clear guidelines governing the process by which a faculty member’s workload assignment is evaluated and reviewed are crucial for full transparency and accountability. The annual merit review process must evaluate and reward faculty contributions to the departmental mission. Faculty workload should be reviewed regularly to ensure that each individual is making an equitable contribution to the department’s mission, and that the workload assignment is appropriate for the career trajectory of the faculty member. Principles of transparency and institutional accountability shall guide effective review and reward for work. Departments must make explicit the norms and expectations regarding workload. Furthermore, the full range of work by each faculty member performed as described in sections IV, V and VI must be recorded and recognized, so that the department distributes workload equitably and transparently. To that end:
- Department workload policies must articulate a clear timetable for review of faculty workload assignments. Units can establish an appropriate process for such review or utilize established review processes (e.g. annual review process, the five-year post-tenure review process) for this purpose.
- Mechanisms must be in place to provide faculty with adequate warnings that their research productivity is no longer at the level commensurate with the faculty member’s current workload assignment. Similarly, guidance on research productivity expectations that would allow faculty to switch to a research-intensive workload track should be clearly articulated.
- When a significant adjustment is made in a faculty member’s workload (e.g. increasing or decreasing teaching load) that adjustment should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is appropriate. In adjusting teaching loads based on faculty productivity, a three-year time frame that excludes periods of FMLA, unpaid leave, or full-time administrative commitments should be assessed.
- Department workload policies must articulate how workload assignments relate to annual merit review policies. Specifically, workload and merit policies should be linked so that faculty’s workload assignments provide them with opportunities to excel and to be suitably recognized through merit adjustments. In no circumstances should a faculty member’s workload assignment structurally limit their ability to benefit from salary increases.
- Differential workload assignments will generally not have a bearing on expectations for tenure since it is assumed that all untenured faculty are on the research-intensive load. Differential workload assignments will also generally not have a bearing on expectations for promotion.
Alan Dow, Mathematics and Statistics
Bill Hill, Dean’s Office
Bernadette Donovan-Merkert, Chemistry
Steve Sabol, History
James Tabor, Religious Studies
Beth Whitaker, Political Science and Public Administration
Race and Social Justice Working Group (2021)
Michele Bissiere, Languages and Culture Studies
Jurgen Buchenau, History
Paula Eckard, English
Crystal Eddins, Africana Studies
David Frantzreb, Sociology
Anne-Katherin Kronberg, Sociology
Richard Leeman, Dean’s Office
Julia Robinson Moore, Religious Studies
Elizabeth Stearns, Sociology
Mark Wilson, History
 We assume the newly developed 2015-2020 Strategic Plan will have similar goals.
 Regulation 700.6.1[R] III. All campuses will have processes and policies to ensure that all forms of individualized instruction conform to the basic guidelines pertaining to other undergraduate courses, including but not limited to a syllabus or learning contract specifying expected student learning outcomes, number of hours of expected work, grading information, and scheduled meeting times with the faculty member. – Effective September 2013
Regulation 700.6.1[R] IV.A: All campuses will have guidelines on the number of undergraduate independent studies a faculty member may teach per term. If campuses choose to enumerate a limited number of circumstances under which exception to these limits may be approved, guidelines must enumerate the required individuals (by position) who must grant approval. – Effective September 2013
CLAS Workload Policy (Revised February 25, 2022) View