College professors aren’t working very hard at community colleges and universities that focus on teaching rather than research, argues David C. Levy in a Washington Post commentary. Now president of the education group at Cambridge Information Group, Levy is a former university chancellor.
For example, Maryland’s Montgomery College (an excellent two-year community college) reports its average full professor’s salary as $88,000, based on a workload of 15 hours of teaching for 30 weeks. Faculty members are also expected to keep office hours for three hours a week. The faculty handbook states: “Teaching and closely related activities are the primary responsibilities of instructional faculty.” While the handbook suggests other responsibilities such as curriculum development, service on committees and community outreach, notably absent from this list are research and scholarship.
Faculty members teaching 12 to 15 hours per week for 30 weeks spend 360 to 450 hours per year in the classroom and perhaps an equal amount of time preparing for class and grading papers, Levy writes. That puts their workload at 36 to 45 percent of the hours non-academic professionals.
If the higher education community were to adjust its schedules and semester structure so that teaching faculty clocked a 40-hour week (roughly 20 hours of class time and equal time spent on grading, preparation and related duties) for 11 months, the enhanced efficiency could be the equivalent of a dramatic budget increase. Many colleges would not need tuition raises or adjustments to public budget priorities in the near future.
“Montgomery College’s dedicated faculty members . . . mentor, counsel, advise and more,” responds DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College, in a letter to the editor. “They spend untold hours preparing lessons, addressing the different learning styles of students, developing and measuring learning outcomes, and updating and revising curricula to ensure a meaningful learning experience. … Judging them merely on the number of hours they spend in the classroom is like judging surgeons on the number of hours they’re in the operating room or judging attorneys on the time they spend in the courtroom.”
Professors spend three hours preparing for one hour in the classroom, plus extra hours advising students and serving on committees, claims Marybeth Gasman, a professor at a research university.
Is this the norm for community college professors?