Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Policy Statement on Academic Workload


During 1987 and 1988, a "Task Force on Academic Work-Load" was appointed by the Senior Vice-President and Dean of Faculties to inquire into faculty work-load on the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses. The idea of this Task Force arose in response to such events as: the "white papers" on research, teaching, and service; discussions of these papers in Faculty Council, department meetings, and other fora; surveys taken in preparation of the North Central review; studies of teaching loads prepared for the Committee on Faculty Appointments; and general discussions within the university community about how these issues affect all of us. The Task Force met with each Chairperson and Dean from every School and College on the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses to explore each academic unit's responsibilities, the resources available to it, and alternate ways of meeting those responsibilities. These discussions led to several concrete results, including some specific recommendations made to the Senior Vice President about faculty needs. The discussions also led to formulation of a policy statement which, after benefit of several drafts, comments, and revisions, is presented here. 


Formulating general policy governing the academic work-load of faculty is difficult because of the diversity of history, responsibilities, and make-up for our units. Any policy must be flexible enough to provide for individual differences while at the same time maintaining equity from one unit to another. "Equity" does not mean "equality"; it means a fairness in respecting the particular circumstances of units in relation to the overall objectives of the School or College even though it may not be appropriate to apply the very same specific criteria. In this respect, "guidelines," while helpful, are not sufficient. What is needed are: 

  • a clear controlling concept 
  • acknowledgement of the historical usage of resources by each unit
  • a sensitive awareness that criteria for faculty performance have developed in each unit over time, and that individual faculty members will differ in their understandings or perceptions of their obligations depending on the time when and the unit in which they were hired 
  • a recognition, also, that individual faculty will differ from one another in the contribution each makes to the unit's responsibilities and should be rewarded in relation to their documented contributions, and 
  • a procedure for implementing the policy. 

The "Basic Concept" is that each academic unit has a certain range of responsibilities and commitments to be met, that each academic unit has available to it certain human and physical resources, and that it is up to the Chairperson with the concurrence of the appropriate Deans (or in the cases where there is no Chairperson, the Director and/or Dean) to determine how best to use the resources to meet the commitments. 

This "Basic Concept" is to be adapted to the specific norms for determining teaching load that may be appropriate to and set by each School or College.

This approach to academic work-load increases both the responsibility and the flexibility of the Chairperson, Director, or Dean. In place of a uniform (if unwritten) accepted level of teaching responsibility, expressed in the form of credit hours or numbers of courses to be taught, the total work-load is to be so designed that faculty members will have adequate time to balance their responsibilities. 

To set parameters within which such determinations are to be made, we will use the following:

Within these parameters (and with the concurrence of the Deans, as provided below, last paragraph, p.3), the Chairperson (or Director or Dean) will determine the individual faculty member's teaching load as one element of the total academic work load. The one general restriction on this determination is that no Chairperson or Dean may assign a 0 teaching hours course load in any given term; in an exceptional case, a proposal for a 0 teaching hours course load may be submitted to the Senior Academic Vice-President for his approval. 

The following are some of the individual and/or Department and School factors that affect teaching load: 

  • significant programmatic research
  • average number of majors graduated annually (all levels)
  •  extent of involvement in directing graduate student research
  • total number of students taught
  • total number of students advised
  • total number of contact hours with students
  • service that is significant and documented.

The Task Force meetings with individual Chairpersons and Deans discussed some ways of rearranging the manner and location of course offerings to introduce some flexibility into staffing. Not all such ways are appropriate for every unit. Examples include, but are not limited to: the judicious use of large (101+) lecture sections; where pedagogically appropriate, increasing the size of 30-student sections to 50 or 60; combining under-enrolled sections of the same course; developing a two- or three-year plan of course-offerings to avoid unnecessary repetition of specific courses; withdrawing a full major sequence from one or another college or campus; modifying commitments to the core curriculum.

In practice this may mean that Professor A teaches 3 or 6 credit hours in a term and may be responsible for l00+ students; that Professor B teaches 6 hours and is directing several dissertations of publishable-quality research; that Professor C teaches 3 hours and is completing a major research or artistic production project; that Professor D teaches 9 hours and advises majors; that Professor E teaches 12 hours, does it well and has no specific responsibilities other than that; that Professor F's supervisory responsibilities may be associated with very few credit hours, but entail long contact hours. One working model to suggest how this range of responsibilities might be implemented is that of an individualized agreement within the given unit. Such an agreement might be a documentable way of assessing accomplishments within a given year.

The Chairperson is expected to meet regularly with the College or School Dean and when necessary with the Deans of the other relevant Schools or Colleges (collectively) to review plans for meeting commitments in all the Colleges and Schools where presence is expected and for varying the teaching load of individual faculty. In those cases where resources seem insufficient to meet responsibilities, Chair and Deans need to discuss whether to decrease responsibilities or to seek additional resources.

During the Task Force sessions, some concern was expressed that varying the individual teaching load within a given unit would create a two- or three-tiered faculty. There is a sense in which the different professorial ranks, to the extent that they reflect different kinds and levels of scholarly achievement, could be so described. Rank, however, is not the only reward. No untenured faculty may expect to receive tenure without achievements in teaching, scholarly publication or its equivalent, and service, as these are specified in the approved department and/or School guidelines for tenure and promotion. Those who achieved tenure under different norms or tenured faculty whose scholarly publication has stopped but who are excellent teachers will be eligible for appropriate increases in salary and promotion to Associate Professor but not for promotion to Professor. Those who have demonstrated excellence in research and publication, or their equivalent, but are not more than adequate in teaching will similarly not achieve the highest rank, yet be eligible for salary increases. With the recognition of differences in scholarly careers, it seems more appropriate to refer to "different contributions" than to "different tiers." Thus, the ideal of the Loyola Scholar striving for excellence in teaching, published scholarship, and service remains in place.

This policy statement assumes that excellence in teaching and scholarly publication are of equal importance for the Loyola faculty as a whole, while individuals will differ as to how these are brought into balance with each other and with the responsibility for service. For some faculty, a lighter number of teaching hours provides the time necessary to maintain a research program, while for others a larger block of time is required; the latter are encouraged to apply for the University's program of paid leaves of absence for research during the regular terms and/or for summer research grants; and, of course, faculty are encouraged to apply for external funding as well.

The Task Force acknowledges the importance of recognizing, assessing and rewarding excellence in research and teaching. While research that is funded and/or published often has been reviewed by experts in the field, the assessment of teaching receives mixed reactions -- with respect to the fact as well as to the method. It is recommended that the Senior Vice-President and Dean of Faculties ask the appropriate University committee to identify and address the issues involved in the assessment and reward of good teaching.

This policy is not intended to diminish the general faculty obligation to demonstrate excellence in teaching, scholarly productivity, and responsible service over the course of the faculty members' professional career. The ideal is and remains that the Loyola scholar integrate all of these activities within his or her professional life. Where existing criteria for tenure and promotion do not adequately express this ideal, they will need to be modified accordingly. Given this ideal, it should be recognized that the highest rank of the professoriate will be achieved only by those who demonstrate excellence in all three areas of scholarly performance.

The policy is intended: 

  1. to recognize that the several units place different emphases on these three areas and allow a range of ways of meeting professional obligations, depending upon how the units conceive of their specific mission, and 
  2. with sensitivity to the obligation of faculty to meet tenure requirements, to allow research or teaching obligations to receive emphasis for individual faculty for a designated period of time (term, year, perhaps longer), and 
  3.  to give each faculty member an opportunity to make a significant and valued contribution to the unit's goals according to the expectations communicated at the time of hiring.

This policy, then, makes a distinction between the expectations of a faculty member over his or her career and the provisions for emphasis on one or another of the three areas over a designated period of time (say, a term or a year).

This policy does not permit faculty not to publish or not to teach well or not to make themselves available for service. Those who are not tenured in a tenure-accruing line must be accomplished in all three in order to be eligible for tenure; those who are tenured must be accomplished in all three in order to be eligible for the full range of rewards and recognition that the university is able to offer.

Chairpersons will receive guidance and support from their Deans and both groups from the Office of the Senior Academic Vice President as they begin implementation of this new approach to determining workload. This approach will be carefully monitored and reviewed over the next five years.

Task Force on Academic Work Load