CUNY Faculty Sees Teaching Load Reduction

December 11, 2017

The City University of New York and its faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress, reached an agreement on restructuring the full-time faculty workload to allow more time for individual work with students, advising, office hours and doing research, they announced Friday. The agreement reduces the annual teaching load by three credit hours, about one full course, across CUNY institutions and will be phased in over three years, starting in the fall. A labor management committee has been working on the restructuring plan since 2016, soon after the American Federation of Teachers- and American Association of University Professors-affiliated faculty union and CUNY reached an overall contract agreement that took years to negotiate. By fall 2020 the contractual annual teaching load for  professors, associate professors and assistant professors at four-year colleges will be 18 hours, or six courses instead of seven, according to information from PSC. Professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors and lecturers at community colleges will teach 24 contact hours per year, or eight courses instead of nine.

Barbara Bowen, union president and a professor of English at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center, called the change a “breakthrough,” most of all for students. “Multiple studies show that the single most important academic factor in student success is time spent individually with faculty,” she said in a statement.

Vita Rabinowitz, CUNY’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, said in a joint statement that the agreement moves CUNY closer to a teaching workload that is in line with those of other “quality universities and colleges,” further strengthening “our ability to compete in the recruitment of top-tier faculty.” Just as important, she said, “is the additional time faculty will now spend meeting and advising students, as well as on their research and scholarship. This time invested outside the classroom will provide critical support to CUNY’s goals of increasing graduation rates and remaining a premier research university.”

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