At first glance, faculty members’ schedules show considerable flexibility. The professors are in the classroom for nine or twelve hours a week, right? And then they have summers off. Think of all that “free time.” What a good life!
A faculty member’s responsibilities, though, are not always visible. Faculty and attorneys have some parallels. Do attorneys only work when they are in court? Or is there lots of research and preparation before that day before the judge? Let’s dissect some of those professors’ responsibilities and see what kinds of work faculty actually do.
Faculty have three major responsibilities: teaching, research, and service. The balance of time often shifts during different parts of the year, from more teaching work during the academic year to more research during the summer, and service scattered throughout the entire time.
On the teaching side, faculty are in the classroom those nine to twelve hours. Have you ever thought of how long it might take to prepare a 50-minute lecture? Or to write a syllabus? Or to prepare for teaching a new course? Or to load D2L sites for students in each class? In CoBE, faculty also have eight office hours each week. As exams and projects emerge, those hours can expand substantially. In my experience, the most time-consuming task was grading papers and exams—usually reserved for quiet times on nights or weekends.
Then there’s research. In CoBE, we ask faculty to publish a minimum of two journal articles in a rolling five years along with one national or international conference presentation. How long does it take to write an article for a class using secondary library sources? Faculty begin with that process but then collect new data, sometimes through experiments or by analyzing databases, in order to expand the research that others have already published. They write papers, submit them to appropriate journals, and then wait for the reviewers to accept or reject them. The best journals may accept (with revisions included) less than 10% of the papers faculty submit to them. Publishing an article easily takes a year’s work and time, and sometimes years longer.
Service responsibilities come in three categories: university, professional, and public. Have you ever thought about who creates new courses and curriculum? Or how the college maintains accreditation? Or how new faculty are recruited and hired? The time to advise the many active CoBE Student Organizations can take as much time as teaching does.
Professional service involves being active in organizations that support the discipline. So accounting faculty serve on boards and committees related to the CPA, finance faculty work with Financial Executives International, and human resources faculty serve the Society for Human Resource Management.
Finally, public service means that faculty use their expertise for community benefit. Some faculty are involved in city activities such as local school boards. Others use their leadership skills in organizations like the YWCA, food pantries, free income tax preparation, or technology park boards.
Fitting all these activities into a week or even a year is a challenge. The success of the college depends on every single faculty member being involved in teaching, research, and service. Their plates are full, and they give generously of their time and talents. How about giving your faculty members a thank you, recognizing that none of us sees all that they do?
- Dean Smith