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Audit of the University of Hawaii's Management of Faculty Workload

Report No. 97-9


Instruction ranks as the highest priority of the University of Hawaii's three missions of instruction, research and service.  This is evidenced by Board of Regents' policy and by the expenditures for instructional faculty.  However, controls to ensure the effective utilization of instruction faculty continue to be lacking.  This is not a new concern; we recommended in a 1973 audit that the Board of Regents develop policies to define and prioritize the three components of faculty workload.  Nationally also, university boards and state legislatures are demanding increases in faculty instructional workload. 

The board did adopt its Teaching Assignments for Instruction Faculty policy in 1982.  The policy requires that faculty at the four-year campuses teach 24 semester credit hours or 8 typical courses, and faculty at the community college teach 30 semester credit hours or 10 typical courses, per academic year.  But the policy allows for the substitution of non-teaching activities, provided the requests are processed according to the administrative teaching assignment policy. 

However, we found that the lack of clarity of the board policy coupled with the failure to enforce the administrative teaching policy has resulted in ineffective management of faculty resources.  The board policy does not specify a minimum teaching requirement so instructional faculty may be permitted to teach no courses at all.  We found this to be the case in our analysis of 22 departments at Manoa and all faculty at the remaining nine campuses.  There were variations among the four year campuses.  Among the community colleges the Leeward faculty teaching load was 20 percent higher than the Maui faculty load. 

We found that, in contradiction to administrative policy, across-the-board reductions in teaching requirements are granted, permitting faculty at four-year campuses to teach as few as two courses per academic year.  Students thus have fewer courses available and the use of and costs for lecturers may increase. 

When instructional faculty are relieved of teaching, board policy requires that equivalent credits be developed for non-instructional duties.  We found that equivalencies are poorly defined and sometimes suspect.  We found examples where the equivalent credit for the same activity differed between faculty, the amount of the credit appearing to be simply what each faculty member needed to comply with the board's teaching assignment policy. 

Ineffective controls on faculty teaching assignments also contributed to the improper compensation of faculty.  Faculty were paid for overload teaching assignments although they did not teach the minimum number of courses to qualify for overload pay.  In addition, a foreign national was paid about $128,000 despite his inability to obtain the proper work visa and despite his failure to fulfill his teaching duties. 

Recommendations and Response

We recommended that the Board of Regents clarify its requirements for the instructional, research and service components of instructional faculty workload.  We also recommended that the board establish a minimum teaching assignment for all instructional faculty.  We further recommended that the president of the university ensure that equivalencies across campuses are equitable and that faculty overload requests are processed in compliance with the contractual agreement between the Board of Regents and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.  The university responded that it has already taken steps to ensure overload requests are reviewed properly. 

The board and president generally disagree with our finding regarding the adequacy of the current board teaching assignment policy.  They maintain the policy is clear and purposely provides for judgments and variability in the implementation process. 

The university maintains that it monitors baseline workload measures through average workload in internal reports.  The university claims the use of these reports by us attests to the reports' validity.  But our use of these reports was limited to identifying what average workload measures the university uses.  We went further—to the actual teaching assignments of individual faculty for both the fall and spring semesters in 1994-95 .  The university incorrectly states that we focused on only the fall semester.  It is the university 's report on average workload measures that is limited to the fall semester. 

The university indicated faculty expenditures identified in the draft report were incorrect.  Our calculations were based upon expenditure data as presented by the university.  Amendments were made to the draft report to reflect the university's revised presentation of data.

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