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When Less Means More

Given the shaky economy and the massive budget cuts facing the state of Tennessee, readers will be unsurprised to read in The Daily Helmsman, the University of Memphis’s student newspaper, that it has been cutting back on part-time instructors, leaving full-time professors and the part timers who remain with their fingers in the dam.

The department of foreign languages and literatures, for example, has lost 11 part-time faculty members since last fall (leaving it with 16), while the department of mathematical science has only 10 part-time instructors — 58.3 percent fewer than it had in fall of 2004 — the newspaper reports. According to the math department’s academic-services coordinator, Raymond Clapsadle, fewer part timers means fewer classes. And it means more work for those who still have jobs. “Clapsadle said three classrooms became overloaded this semester because they didn’t have the instructors they needed,” the article said.

According to this thread on The Chronicle’s forums, the University of Memphis isn’t the only institution making adjustments. One poster reported that faculty members were being forced to teach overload courses for free. Another poster said faculty members at her institution are debating whether to do the same in response to a predicted 40-percent budget cut.

What adjustments is your department making in the face of economic hardship? Is the economic downturn affecting faculty teaching loads?

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