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Author Topic: Release time for directing a grad program?  (Read 11635 times)
solipsisticallyyours
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« on: April 09, 2012, 9:27:08 PM »

Hello everyone. I know the answer will vary from R1-2, SLAC and all other varieties of colleges, but I wanted to get some advice.

I am on sabbatical and am to coordinate a new MFA program in writing at our mid-sized university. We had put together the application and it's been passed by our trustees. It's now in the state's hands.

My question concerns release time. Our application stipulates that the director get 1.5 courses' worth of release a year -- our normal load is 3/3. The news out of campus now is that release is going to be half -- .75 of a class a year. There are other cutbacks as well.

I have been thinking our administration might get stingy with their support for the new program, but now I'm having second thoughts of doing the coordinator job. I am newly tenured and promoted, was on the committee to create the new program, and went away hoping all would be set in place when I got back. Naive, I know.

My first impulse is to say, I'll direct the program next year because I promised to and we want the new program to go forward, but this level of release support, I don't see how I can do it. I am also, frankly, having second thoughts on doing the program at all. My colleagues? Of the five other writing faculty, none seem to want to work as director. That gives me pause.

Does this kind of course release sound reasonable to run a new grad program that will eventually be 20-30 students? How do I get out of directing this thing after year 1?

« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 9:27:33 PM by solipsisticallyyours » Logged
ursula
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 9:49:43 PM »

At our shop (comprehensive university in Canada) the director of a grad program gets a release equivalent to 1/4 of the normal teaching load.
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tee_bee
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 10:23:46 PM »

Your administration is f*cking with you. What on earth is .75 of a class? Really, this should be at least a one course reduction, to go from 3-3 to 3-2. Believe me, that reduction is a must.

If no one else wants to direct this, then there's really no broad base of support for this program. It might be time to cut your losses. How do you get out of this after year 1? By not starting year 1 unless your terms for a course release are met.

It sucks to back away from something you created, esp if your "leadership" likes this, but you really should do this on  your terms, not theirs. The immediate post-tenure period is a very vulnerable time. Don't let yourself get overloaded with things like these that have no sunset provision, and that don't pay obvious career dividends.

All this advice is void if you are passionate about this new program and want to put yourself out there.
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hegemony
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 10:49:53 PM »

+1, and I say to say No under current conditions even if you're passionate about the program, etc. etc. 
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johnr
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 11:03:40 PM »

At our University (master's granting directional), department graduate program directors receive no time release.  It's just considered "service."   For example, I'm the graduate program director for our department and we have approx. 40 grad students at any one time.  We (the faculty) rotate on a four-year schedule, although I'm into my second consecutive rotation now.  The one nice thing is that the grad program director is exempt from all other service, so we've got that going for us.  The rest of the faculty serve on three or four committees each, if one considers department, college and university committees.  As far as service work goes, I don't mind it, it's relatively useful and immediately rewarding work. I'd sooner shoot myself than serve on the by-laws committee or, god-forbid, the "re-write the unit evaluation plan for the 10th time in 20 years" ad-hoc committee.  That being said, it sure would be nice to have a course release or two, even a 0.75 course release.  Would that mean that I could just stop teaching a class after 0.25 of the quarter was over?

Note: I do have a 1/2 time staff member assigned as my assistant.  Perhaps you could negotiate for something like that.  I'm largely spared the paperwork and administrative headaches. 
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anon99
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 11:07:18 PM »

At our shop (comprehensive university in Canada) the director of a grad program gets a release equivalent to 1/4 of the normal teaching load.

+1
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offthemarket
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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 11:09:42 PM »

At my uni, we're a small master's comprehensive, and even though there is no money to do anything, grad directors get 1/4 of the load for running the grad program in each department that has one.  Just like ursula and anon.

The 1.5 per year out of a 3/3 sounds reasonable, but 1/2 to 3/4 per year does not.

So, you're tenured? And the support for coordinating just dropped? Don't coordinate it.  If it's a brand new program with nobody in it yet, then just don't accept anybody. Seriously, the program you created, though approved by the system, isn't tenable if there is no faculty time to run it. So just don't launch the program until you have the support.

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dismalist
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2012, 11:16:21 PM »

... What on earth is .75 of a class? Really, this should be at least a one course reduction, to go from 3-3 to 3-2. Believe me, that reduction is a must.



A teaching load of five courses is indeed common or normal for program directors. Some administrative support should eventually come, too, perhaps when the program has a reasonable minimum number of students.

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shrek
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 11:28:39 PM »

I'm the director of grad studies for my dept. I get a course release (from a 2/2) and a little summer salary (about 2 weeks of pay-- it's a flat amount).
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systeme_d_
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 2:05:04 AM »

When I directed an MA program, I had a course reduction for a few years.  My load was reduced from 2/3 to 2/2.  Then the administration changed the rules, and in my final 2 years at that institution I was back to 2/3 again.
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zharkov
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« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 7:32:46 AM »


My first impulse is to say, I'll direct the program next year because I promised to and we want the new program to go forward, but this level of release support, I don't see how I can do it. I am also, frankly, having second thoughts on doing the program at all. My colleagues? Of the five other writing faculty, none seem to want to work as director. That gives me pause.


About your promise, that was under the deal of 1.5 courses released.  If they break the deal, you are relieved of your promise. At least in my moral universe. 

Here is a question:  Who had the idea for this program?  Who among the admin were (are?) the program's champions?  Or did it just grow like Topsy?

To chime with some of the comments above, I see it as a red flag when none of the incumbent faculty want to direct a new program.  But also as mentioned above, having an administrative assistant or program coordinator, even half time, can make all the difference.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 7:33:34 AM by zharkov » Logged

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Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
zuzu_
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 9:48:52 AM »

At our University (master's granting directional), department graduate program directors receive no time release.  It's just considered "service."   For example, I'm the graduate program director for our department and we have approx. 40 grad students at any one time.  We (the faculty) rotate on a four-year schedule, although I'm into my second consecutive rotation now.  The one nice thing is that the grad program director is exempt from all other service, so we've got that going for us.  The rest of the faculty serve on three or four committees each, if one considers department, college and university committees.  As far as service work goes, I don't mind it, it's relatively useful and immediately rewarding work. I'd sooner shoot myself than serve on the by-laws committee or, god-forbid, the "re-write the unit evaluation plan for the 10th time in 20 years" ad-hoc committee.  That being said, it sure would be nice to have a course release or two, even a 0.75 course release.  Would that mean that I could just stop teaching a class after 0.25 of the quarter was over?

Note: I do have a 1/2 time staff member assigned as my assistant.  Perhaps you could negotiate for something like that.  I'm largely spared the paperwork and administrative headaches. 

This actually doesn't sound so bad. I'd much rather dump 3-4 sh!tty committees than dump one course.
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larryc
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 10:33:14 AM »

Just say no.
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janewales
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 10:48:19 AM »


I was DGS for a program with about 100 grad students, and received release of half my load (so, went from 2/2 to 1/1). While I think that the one-course release might be appropriate for a small program once it's up and running, I would not take on a new program under the circumstances you describe. The early years are likely to be particularly demanding.

You aren't under any obligation to do this if the circumstances are a recipe for disaster, whether for the program or for you.
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solipsisticallyyours
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2012, 11:26:30 AM »

Thanks for these replies everyone. I have half a mind to just say no, as one of you says, another half to grin and bear it for the first year until, as someone else says, until it becomes a viable program.  There is so much of this that gives me pause, not the least of which is I'm dealing with all this with my sabbatical winding down and I'm trying to finish my writing projects.  A couple meetings next week about this. I feel like a squeaky wheel diva as I bring all this up, but the truth is I would only be amenable to directing it if I got fair compensation/release. Is that so wrong or naive? I'm beginning to think it is.

Thanks again.
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