Saturday, September 17, 2011

Faculty Time-sheets: Deprofessionalizing the Profession

“Salaried work is not hourly work. Salaried workers are being paid for their output -- not face time.”

"The fact is, to require anyone who does not bill out time (like an attorney) and is salaried to fill out a time sheet is insulting to that person, implies they are not actually working (all of them), and devalues what work they actually perform."

“Administrators simply do not understand what academics do.”

A directive from the Auditor General that all state employees must submit time sheets is finding its way into the university system here in the state of ILL. The corporately-modeled university, beloved by many administrators who want to force uniformity over unity, may become a reality at CSU. Why not? Even the Chicago Sun Times lamented that "…higher education has been reduced from the pursuit of knowledge to mere job training." Faculty are mere "workers" to the Admins' "management." Politicians with no experience or understanding of the idea of a university control the boards of trustees and appoint our presidents. Administrators on campus make decisions and ask for faculty input later (if they ask at all). At CSU one does not have to dig too deeply to find the chasm between faculty and administrator or should I now say, workers and bosses?

At any rate, other schools in the world are doing the timesheet thing--in the U.K. they've been subjecting Faculty to it for a few years now--and faculty are coping with a nightmare situation for the humanities which our politicans can only envy. I suspect we will see it in a year or two. We're already dismantling CSU's College of Art and Sciences into a farcical community college, no surprise if eventually it ceases to exist altogether, morphed into some thing with an educationalese newspeak title. There is an element of an academic "eliminationist-exterminationist" approach going on--eliminate it from sight, then exterminate it (cf. the Goldhagen thesis). Apply same approach to the Grad School.

And it's not just the U.K. clamping down on faculty. Here's a little piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education from February 2011. Kean State University in New Jersey is trying on faculty time sheets. The comments to the little news blurb are worth reading.

I'd say that the nails in the coffin of public education are in place.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education February 15, 2011, 4:30 pm
Kean U. Requires Faculty Members to Fill Out Time Sheets
Administrators at Kean University, a state institution in New Jersey, have asked faculty members to fill out daily time sheets to ensure that they are putting in at least a 35-hour workweek. The time sheets have become another source of friction in the already-tense relationship between the faculty and the administration at Kean.

#1 It's not that anyone thinks that they are better people than those who work at McDonalds (no doubt some people do, but even they are not objecting on this reason). The point is that requiring faculty to fill out time sheets that demonstrate a minimum of 35 hours a week is assuming that most academics are lazy and/or trying to "beat the system" by not working a full work week. At any institution worth its salt, and many not worth their salt, you simply cannot survive by only working 35 hours (or even 40 hours) a week. Between class prep/grading, advising/office hours, teaching, and research it is a wonder anyone would have the time for that. If it is actually possible to survive in academe working 20hrs a week as you suggest, those workers will simply lie on their timesheets since they are already being professionally dishonest. Requiring timesheets is merely a way to suggest that academics are actually lazy and that doing this somehow corrects the problem. It is part of a larger attack on the academy in general

#2 Yes my experience has been that if you don't join committees, don't respond to e-mails, are never in your office, don't publish or present papers, and consistently don't have class the administration generally already has plenty of reason to terminate you. I have known people who have slacked off, and they haven't ever lasted more than 2 terms (at best). It's not even really that the timesheet is a hassle. The point is that, at its root, requesting faculty to fill out a time sheet is just insulting and devaluing of previous work. Those who are slacking off (if they do manage to stick around) will just find more creative ways to do that. You can have office hours where all you do is play on the computer. You can have class without any prior preparation, and you can show up to a meeting and just not pay attention or contribute anything. The fact is, to require anyone who does not bill out time (like an attorney) and is salaried to fill out a time sheet is insulting to that person, implies they are not actually working (all of them), and devalues what work they actually perform.

#3 People on salary typically do not fill out time cards because they don't receive additional compensation for additional hours worked (over 40). There are exceptions though -- e.g., for attorneys in private law firms who's work hours are billed to particular clients.
Salaried work is not hourly work. Salaried workers are being paid for their output -- not face time. If a faculty member is not getting his/her work done (teaching, scholarship, or service) -- regardless of how many hours the professor is at work -- this should be dealt with administratively, by an Academic Dean or Department Chair. Unless mandated by contract, even tenured faculty can be penalized through reductions in travel money, merit pay, etc.

#4 The timeservers and deadbeats will fill out such forms impeccably down to 3 significant figures. Those who actually put in 50 or 60 hrs per week on their work will be too busy to bother and will be harassed about their timesheets not being in order. A colleague of mine recently had one of those "professional development" wankfest interviews at Macquarie University in Australia. One committee member from admin did not know that you had to mark exam papers on weekends! Administrators simply do not understand what academics do.

#5 I'm tenured at a state research university. I would love to put in a mere 35 hour week. Does this mean the faculty at Kean get overtime for all those other hours, nights, weekends and all? You want professionals, who put in their time? Then you don't have them fill out time sheets as though they were on hourly salaries. You want time sheets? Then don't expect more than the required number of hours. And, um, don't expect faculty to want to work for you.

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