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Summer Work

I’m the adviser for Richard Bland College’s pilot honors program beginning in the fall. For this, I will receive some release time in the fall. The problem is, I need to plan for the program now, before my contract starts in August. I’ve been talking with the administration about getting some money to do that planning, and it’s still up in the air if I will get any or not, but I wanted to pose the question here, from a young tenure-track faculty member (that’s me): How much should I work in the summer … free? How much do you work?

I know it’s not the case everywhere, but my college contracts with me for nine months, and the pay is prorated for 12 months. I do get a paycheck all summer, but, technically, I’m not under contract in the summer. The thing is, instructors generally have to work in the summer, free, to plan for the coming semester. Some instructors can recycle old syllabi and whatnot, but they probably work a little outside of their contract dates. I’m not saying that’s right, but it seems normal. And, really, I’m OK with that for my regular teaching load.

But this honors thing is different. It’s a special project, and the first year needs to be amazing because it’s the first—like a pilot for a TV series has to be amazing. Preparing for it will require a significant amount of time and energy on my part, more than a regular teaching load requires, I think. On the one hand, I could do this preparation free because it will pay off when the program is a huge success. On the other hand, I shouldn’t work free because, well, I’d be working free.

Hmm … maybe this conundrum isn’t so different from summertime preparation for regular classes. What are your thoughts?

[Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user Raoul Luoar.]

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