Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Can a Dean Make You Do It?

So here is the problem. The Dean or Associate Dean at your School is making up the schedule for the fall. Nearly everyone wants to teach in the time period from 10-2 on Tuesday - Thursday and so indicate on a form that asks for their preferences. There are not enough rooms and, even if there were, there would be conflicts that mean students would have to make choices. The conflicts would not occur if classes met earlier or later or on Fridays and Mondays. The Dean sends out a schedule that has Professor X teaching on Wed - Fri at 3:00 even though Professor X said he prefers the same times as everyone else. Professor X is no different from anyone else with respect to his "need" not to teach on Friday.

An exchange of emails occurs with X saying "I do not teach on Fridays." Literally, it is possible for X to teach at his preferred times but, again, it would mean students could not take his course and another also scheduled at that time.

I am not sure exactly how to pose the question but the generalized idea is what can/should a dean do. Can a Dean order people to teach at a certain time? Here is a non exhaustive list of possibilites:

What should a dean do?
Back off. It is more important to keep X happy than avoid conflicts.
Stay firm with the schedule and if X is a no show start appropriate disciplinary action.
Negotiate. Offer X something others do not have.
Call a faculty meeting, You've got a problem. Explain the scheduling issue and ask the faculty how they want you to solve the problem.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question. The reality is that it often depends upon the faculty member and how important they are. Weaker players (e.g., those with less market power to go elsewhere or those who aren't pulling their weight in scholarship or service) may get less preferable times, subject to institutional concerns about lower enrollment for core courses (student demand is another factor in scheduling - it's not always about faculty preferences). In addition to the above custom, I think many schools have a rotation system. You get a favorable time every other year or every third year, but every so often you have to teach in a less favorable slot.

3/26/2008 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I prefer having my classes scheduled in the "undesirable" time slots. This semester, I have one course scheduled for 8:30 - 10:30 am on Fridays, and another for 4:00 - 5:30 on Mondays and Thursdays. These times had the effect of deterring the slacker students from enrolling; the resulting smaller enrollment of more engaged students is better for me and the students. Win-win!

3/29/2008 9:15 PM  

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