The University Record, January 18, 1999

LS&A faculty discuss teaching rewards

By Kerry Colligan

Last fall, LS&A Interim Dean Pat Gurin began discussions with faculty to assess the “collective future” of the College. Early results from those discussions show a clear frustration, Gurin told faculty at the Jan. 11 meeting.

“Each focus group has produced a pervading notion of overwork and burnout among faculty,” she said. “A number of faculty feel teaching is not being rewarded.” Last week’s meeting began the dialogue on how to provide more satisfactory rewards for teaching.

Jacquelynne Eccles, the Wilbert J. McKeachie Collegiate Professor of Psychology, professor of women’s studies and of education, suggested LS&A consider the model employed by the University of Colorado at Boulder in which an oversight committee reviews promotion and tenure proposals and has the liberty to grant either based on excellence in research or teaching, not necessarily both.

“The system [of review] should be flexible enough to have people outstanding in either teaching or research. Being an outstanding teacher should have the same visibility and rewards as being an outstanding researcher,” Eccles said.

Most faculty members present agreed that the rewards are far from equal. “When a faculty member is recruited by another institution, he or she is sought because of nationally recognized research, not because of, and often in spite of his or her teaching reputation,” noted Louis Loeb, professor and chair, Department of Philosophy.

It is also the case, added Frederick Amrine, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, chair and associate professor of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, that teaching usually is better in courses that faculty want to teach. Citing the long lead time for course listings and the deadline for submissions for new courses, he expressed frustration in “the lack of flexibility in tailoring the curriculum to the specific interests of the students and to the talents of the faculty.” It does not make sense, he added, that the curriculum be tailored to external deadlines that could easily be changed if the course listing were put on the Web.

Gurin urged faculty members to remember that teaching and research are not exclusive. “What the research climate is in the future will impact teaching,” she said. “I want to make sure we don’t lose that focus.

“I am increasingly concerned about the research endeavor. Given funding patterns, we’re likely to see more funding for multi-investigator, multi-institution projects that often require work during the academic year. If that is the case, the College is not well positioned for that.”

In 1988, almost 80 percent of research projects in the College of Engineering were “single investigator” projects, Gurin noted. By 1998, 75 percent were multi-investigator. To begin to prepare for that environment, she said she hopes to bring to campus this spring speakers from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation.

Proposed faculty code revision

Theresa Tinkle, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and associate professor of English, proposed a change in the faculty code to incorporate the English Composition Board into the Gayle Morris Sweetland Writing Center. While her proposal will not be discussed until the February meeting, Tinkle noted that the only major change in service is to assessment.

She stated that assessment needs to move from student portfolios to the classroom because “the portfolio does not assess basic skills well. It is imperative that we locate assessment in the classroom. We would like to consolidate to focus more productively on writing.”

LS&A faculty will meet again at 4:10 p.m. Feb. 1, in room 2553, LS&A Building.


Whitaker Fund grants are available

The Office of the Provost has announced the availability of Gilbert Whitaker Fund grants. Up to ten $5,000 grants will be awarded to provide incentive funding for the improvement of teaching and learning by collaborative groups of faculty. The deadline for proposal submissions is Feb. 12. Department and program chairs, groups of tenured and tenure-track faculty, and faculty with lecturer III appointments are eligible.

The most successful grantees in the first stage may reapply for Stage II funding of up to $25,000 for 2000–2001.

For more information, contact George Williams, 647-4765 or geowms@umich.edu, or Constance Cook, 763-0159 or cecook@umich.edu.

Application forms and guidelines are on the Web, www.umich.edu/~crltmich.


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