Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal has been delivered to the Statehouse and battle lines are being drawn on key issues of contention, including some at Ohio State.
On March 30, President E. Gordon Gee sent out a faculty-wide email in which he expressed his “concern” about faculty workload requirements in the budget.
The proposed budget would require full-time faculty to teach an extra class every other year and for public colleges to develop a three-year bachelor’s program for some majors.
The proposals, which are designed as cost-saving measures, have drawn criticism from university leaders who fear they will detract from faculty duties outside the classroom.
“I know very well how hard our faculty work — in the classroom, in conducting scholarship, in the laboratories, the libraries, with individual students and student groups,” Gee wrote in the email.
Gee did express gratitude for the relatively small cuts to university funding, but said the university is working with elected leaders to resolve issues related to faculty workload.
Currently, OSU does not have a standard workload requirement for faculty. Instead, each department develops and publishes a pattern of administration which sets maximum and minimum workload requirements.
Ohio House Finance Committee are still working out details of the proposal, but the current language states that all full-time faculty, including those who conduct research, will be subject to the new requirement.
Joseph A. Alutto, executive vice president and provost of OSU, is concerned about that balance between classroom and research responsibilities.
“Our faculty are committed to excellent teaching and to fostering innovative research. That is our mission as a great research university,” Alutto said.
Rob Nichols, spokesman for the governor, said the office has been working with university leaders but would not say if the requirements will be removed.
“We appreciate Dr. Gee’s expressions of support for the budget and we place great value in any thoughts or ideas he has on any issue impacting higher education in this state,” Nichols said.
Matt D‘Errico, a second-year in biomedical engineering, said he can see both sides of the issue, but added, “The fact of the matter is (faculty) are here to be professors and to teach.”
Debate will continue and details will be vague until a formal budget leaves the committee and is put to a vote in the full Ohio House. Until then, Alutto is clear on the university‘s position.
“Individual departments give out course assignments based on maintaining effective program offerings and supporting research,” he said. “We believe such assignments are best made within the university.”