"MEMORANDUM TO: All College and University Administrators
FROM: Legislative Task Force on Education
SUBJECT: Faculty Accountability
A legislative task force recently completed a study of faculty loads and effort at all institutions of higher learning in the state. Their summary report recommended the following minimums for all full-time faculty in the areas of (1) minimum credit hours taught per faculty FTE and (2) minimum and average weekly contact hours. . . ."

Receipt of a communication similar to the above would throw a mortal scare into any college or university administrator. (Of course, the dictum could be released by a Board of Regents or Education Committee, depending on the configuration and hierarchy of one's state educational system.) Yet, transmittals similar to the above mock memorandum are not beyond the realm of possibility; indeed, they may become recurring realities in the future. How are we to respond to these recommendations? Or, more to the point, how can we best describe our current instructional efforts?

It is generally recognized that legislative investigations into faculty effort at our institutions have been hampered by the lack of workable data collection and reporting systems—systems which can adequately translate faculty effort, both preparation time and actual contact hours, into terms readily understandable by our controlling legislative bodies. The problem of explaining what we are doing and how it is being accomplished is probably most critical in our professional schools—in this case, a school of the performing arts. Traditionally, teaching at performing arts institutions has focused on individualized instruction, admittedly a more costly procedure than tutorial or classroom teaching approaches, at least in terms of student credit hour production. Yet, in most cases there is much greater contact hour involvement with the former (individual instruction) than the latter. Misunderstandings arising from this disparity of effort have fostered and perpetuated several inequities for our performing arts schools—not the least of which is in the area of comparative salaries.1 For decades, faculty in departments and schools of music had to exist on annual salaries sometimes as much as 20-30% below salaries of their colleagues at the same rank and on the same campus. For several years, we could not prove that this disparity existed. We had only our hunches on which to rely. The recent push for "candor on campus," however, which in some instances coincided with the beginnings of collective bargaining and systematic data reporting (such as Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Systems—PPBS), has revealed many of the inequities.

Publishing faculty salaries does not in itself make a positive contribution toward the elimination of salary inequities. More importantly, proof of high levels of faculty effort and cost effectiveness can be irrefutable evidence especially when the data are expressed in terms understandable by university administrators and legislative task forces. The following discussion of a faculty effort formula, which was integral and even preliminary to our recent cost analysis studies, should be meaningful and maybe even helpful.

The unit chosen for illustration below is a school for the performing arts, not just an academic department.2 We were, therefore, confronted with a set of problems which had to be solved preliminary to the actual tabulation of faculty effort. Private and academic instruction seemed to be at opposite ends of the spectrum in the performing arts situation. Comparisons between them were possible only after a suitable common denominator was identified, one which accounted for those faculty members whose effort lay in either or both categories. Frequently, a faculty member was involved in both private and academic teaching situations. (It should be explained here that private instruction with respect to music implies the traditional one-to-one studio teaching normally associated with applied music.) The base finally chosen was twenty-four units (not to be confused with hours), and a conversion formula was developed for the various teaching and administrative functions in which the college was involved.3



1. Twenty-four (24) units constitute a full load of undergraduate faculty assignments. Eighteen (18) units constitute a full load of graduate faculty assignments.

In cases in which faculty teach at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, one graduate unit is equated to 0.75 undergraduate unit, or a ratio of 4:3. This ratio is a constant when comparing undergraduate to graduate instructional effort. Also, the twenty-four units of straight undergraduate teaching correspond to a twelve credit hour load; eighteen (18) units of straight graduate teaching correspond to a nine credit hour load. These are found to be rather acceptable norms.


2. Twenty-four units constitute a full-time administrative position.

Administrative effort is also factored into the formula. This is particularly helpful in the study because most administrators in the school maintain academic assignments in addition to their administrative duties. Indeed, this dual role is to be encouraged, as administrators are more effective when they maintain close rapport with the ever-changing classroom environment.


3. A full load for Emeritus Professors is sixteen units.

For obvious reasons, those faculty who have achieved Emeriti standing are not expected to maintain a twenty-four unit base. This part of the formula might not have wide-spread application unless a college or department enjoys the continued active participation of the Emeriti faculty.


4. Six units are allocated to Division Heads.

It should be explained that some non-administrative positions at the school involve quasi-administrative duties. A division is an academic unit which functions both for the purpose of overseeing particular degree programs and as a service unit to other divisions/departments. (See No. 5 below.) The head of each division is given one-fourth total effort credit, six units, for this responsibility.


5. Four units are allocated to Department Chairmen.

In those divisions where smaller units are more operative, a sub-level unit called the department is found. Department chairmen are given one-sixth credit, four units, for their administrative efforts on behalf of the department. Departmental chairmen report to their respective division heads and ultimately to the academic deans.


6. Two units are allowed for Artists-in-Residence, Composers, Scholars.

This category deserves some elaboration. Most large performing arts schools maintain artist faculties. These persons combine performing and teaching careers by delicately balancing these complementary disciplines. Most artist faculty are expected to maintain active performing careers which provide for individual faculty enrichment and which bring acclaim to that institution. In return, a one-twelfth credit factor, two units, is assigned this role. Composers-in-residence also fit this category. In some cases, when the artist-in-residence plans an unusually active performance year, load credit up to four units may be granted. It is desirable, however, to anticipate such occurrences well in advance so that load adjustments involving faculty colleagues might be achieved. Also, up to two units of credit may be granted for scholarly research, writing, and other forms of creative activity.


7. Four units are credited to each member of an Ensemble-in-Residence.

The same rationale explained in No. 6 above applies here. The reason for a higher conversion factor for the Ensemble-in-Residence member is that a more rigorous performance schedule is often maintained by the ensemble than by the individual artist-in-residence (although this may vary from time to time). In addition, contractual agreements to perform a specified number of programs annually frequently dictate a higher degree of exposure for the ensemble-in-residence.


8. Private undergraduate applied music study is equated on the basis of one hour of private instruction serving as one unit. Private graduate applied music instruction receives 1.33 units per hour.

This part of the formula is really the basis of the conversion system. Faculty members whose teaching assignments are exclusively in the applied area (private studio teaching) have their loads computed on a one-to-one basis. That is, for each applied major taught, one load unit is assigned (or 1.33 units if graduate applied instruction). A maximum load in these cases would be twenty-four units: twenty-four undergraduate majors, eighteen graduate majors, or some combination of the two.4 Situations involving a combination of major, concentration, and secondary/elective study call for further modifications. For example, concentration and secondary/elective students receive one-half hour lessons; therefore, the conversion for them would be one-half unit, regardless of their academic level. (The rationale behind granting graduate and undergraduate concentrations only one-half unit for graduate teaching, as opposed to achieving a split of the 1.33 factor, is due to the lower recital/performance expectations of these non-majors. On the other hand, most masters and doctoral performance major programs require many recitals; preparation for and supervision of these recitals justify the higher unit assignment on behalf of the instructor.) In a school in which heavy emphasis is placed upon individualized study and performance, relating other effort to the applied unit seems reasonable.


9. The supervision of one full-time student teacher is equal to one unit.

Since student teaching monitoring is supervisory and does not require daily contact or preparation, a one unit assignment is achieved.


10. Academic classes utilizing lecture and discussion teaching approaches are equal to weekly class hours times two units of load.

This item equates units to class contact hours and not course credit hours. The reason this approach is preferred is because the central problem is to quantify faculty effort and not student effort. Generally speaking, class contact hours are more meaningful criteria in this regard. This item also corresponds most closely to the traditional college/university lecture class. It is readily apparent that a class of this type meeting three times a week would carry a conversion total of six, or a one-fourth load on the 24-unit basis. Similarly, a class which meets twice a week would equate to four units. When these kinds of "straight" teaching are the norm, some qualitative judgments by administrators and/or department chairmen must be made in order to limit the number of preparations by any one faculty member. For example, if one teacher taught nothing but two-credit-hour courses, he or she conceivably could be "saddled" with six different preparations, an intolerable assignment even for one with the greatest capacity for work. On the other hand, four three-credit-hour courses (also converting to 24 units) might not be excessive, especially if a multiple section assignment meant only three separate preparations. (Even this load is higher than many schools require.)

A provision which requires more unit credit for graduate teaching has been incorporated into this formula. Cognizant that undergraduate loads are traditionally one-fourth to one-third heavier than graduate loads, twelve credit hours to nine, graduate courses carry more unit weight. For example, a three-credit-hour graduate course in opera literature which meets three times a week would result in a unit assignment of eight: three (number of weekly meetings) times two (see No. 10 above for weighting of lecture courses) plus one-third, or 3 × 2 = 6 + 2 = 8. An eight-unit graduate course constitutes one-third of a full-time load. This is an effective means of avoiding the exploitation of senior faculty members who are so vital to graduate programs in music.


11. Undergraduate seminar classes are equal to weekly class hours plus one unit for each weekly class meeting.

Seminar classes are designed so that the preparation for each session can be shared by students and faculty alike, especially once the topic has been announced, prefaced, and the ground rules discussed. At some point in the course the students often assume quasi-instructional roles by sharing the results of their research. The instructor is then free to be a constant catalyst, supervisor, and resident scholar to the participants. For these reasons, a special conversion is applied to seminar classes. An example of such an application would be a seminar which meets for two hours once a week. The unit conversion would be three.


12. Graduate seminar classes are equal to weekly class hours times two units.

Similar to undergraduate seminar classes (No. 11 above), but in keeping with the greater expectations from graduate students and their faculties, graduate seminar classes are assigned more unit weight. The conversion for this item is identical to that for the general undergraduate lecture class (No. 10 above).


13. With pedagogy, conducting and technique classes, coaching, coached and non-directed ensembles, each weekly class hour equals one unit.

Expected course preparation on the part of the faculty varies in this regard. It is generally not thought to be excessive. Student progress is measured by his or her demonstration of the grasping of the techniques involved and by faculty critiques of the student's presentations. Little research or lecture time is usually required by the faculty member. Examples in this category would be a class in piano pedagogy, introduction to conducting, coaching a class in operatic repertoire, etc.


14. Conducted ensembles are equal to weekly class hours plus one unit for each weekly class meeting.

Performing groups such as orchestras, choirs, brass ensembles, and bands require extensive rehearsal times. They also demand much preparation on the part of the instructor, primarily in the areas of repertoire research and study, and organization. An ensemble which meets for two hours three times a week would receive a total of nine units, six for the hours in rehearsal plus one each for the number of rehearsals. Conducting a major ensemble then is almost one-half of a full-time load (three-eighths, to be precise) in our system.


15. Class applied study is equated as weekly class hours plus one unit for each weekly meeting.

Because of the need for innovation in teaching approaches, and due to financial limitations, experiments with class applied music study have been undertaken. Those which have proven successful have fostered hope that such approaches can be meaningful adjuncts to the traditional one-to-one contact normally associated with private music instruction. Such a group, under the supervision of a faculty member, meeting twice a week for two hours each meeting, would carry four units. If, for example, eight students benefited from this type of arrangement, the instructor would be available for contact with more students (twice as many, by extension of this principle). Of course, some combination of class and individualized studies is desirable.


16. Major production supervision receives six units for each production for each of the following assignments: director, conductor, technical supervisor, designer, lighting supervisor. The producer receives two units for each production. The units are assigned to the semester or quarter during which the final production is given.

Performing arts schools, both large and small, are undertaking major productions with more frequency. Whether the production is musical theater, opera, oratorio, or drama, enormous amounts of time are consumed in conceptual and preparatory enterprises. Some equitable procedure for awarding unit credits for this often unstructured activity must be applied. The assignment of six units, one-fourth load on the 24-unit plan, seems easily justifiable, particularly if the production involves many forces and requires the collaborative efforts of a supervisory staff. Fewer units may be assigned for work in "mini" productions (one-act operas or workshop scenes) applying a floating scale which is contingent upon the involvement of the individual.


The conversion formula outlined and explained above encompasses most types of academic-performance activities which are usually associated with performing arts schools. There are, however, some glaring omissions. No attempt has yet been made to quantify effort connected to the advising process. Advising takes on many shapes, making the uniform application of any one formula very difficult. Advising freshmen who are taking a core curriculum during their early years is far different from guiding a doctoral student through a non-structured degree program. Coaxing a senior through a structural analysis is probably feeble in comparison to serving as principal advisor to a Ph.D. dissertation on "The Life and Works of . . . ." Too often, the quality of this exciting kind of instruction defies quantification and is thus not considered when load evaluations are made.

Currently we are advocating a revision in the conversion formula, a revision which would provide a mechanism for affixing unit credit to the advisement of major written projects (theses, dissertations, etc.). One plan now being discussed involves the assignment of the following:

Directed Readings and similar research guidance—One-fourth unit for each project advised (corresponding to two and one-half contact hours per student, per quarter on our system).

Senior Thesis—One-half unit for each project advised (corresponding to five contact hours per student, per quarter).

Master's Thesis, D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) document, and D.M.A. composition (final project)—one unit for each project advised (corresponding to the contact hours per student, per quarter).

Ph.D. dissertation, D.M.E. (Doctor of Music Education) thesistwo units for each project advised (corresponding to twenty contact hours per student, per quarter).

Of course, reason dictates that these should be "one-time" assignments, not repeated each quarter for the same candidate. (In many cases, candidates will work for years on a major written project, submitting only a chapter at a time. Faculty effort credit, however, is factored in only once.)


Another area of responsibility in which much time-consuming effort can be spent is committee work. Serving on committees can take the form of departmental, college or university committees, standing or ad hoc committees, graduate or undergraduate, advisory or policy-making, applied boards (juries) or recital committees, and doctoral examination committees. In some cases faculty members provide service to more than one of the above committees simultaneously. (Realistically, we have to admit that most committee work is performed by a few trusted souls in each department.) How can one assign conversion units to such duties? Are there any constants which allow unit comparisons? Certainly committee work is valuable to any institution's operational fabric. Some consideration must be given to those whose "free hours" are consumed by the seemingly endless number of meetings and progress reports which are expected of them. If effort units cannot be assigned, the committee work and advising projects should be listed on the faculty member's load sheet so that a proper defense of an otherwise sub-par total unit conversion might be achieved.

Below, in tables A, B, and C, are three examples of the conversion formula applied to different faculty-staff types. It might be deduced from the tables that (1) the musician is carrying a full load, (2) the dean is overworked (not to anyone's surprise), and (3) the producer is enjoying an easy semester. Nothing could be more misleading. Once the quantitative data have been tabulated, qualitative factors must then enter the evaluation process. The producer probably began preparations for Falstaff months before the production dates. Allowing only six units may appear unjust in light of total effort expended on the project. On the other hand, the musician might wish to approach the Middle Ages course more in the style of a seminar, with more student participation encouraged by requiring project lessons. In this case, faculty effort might be minimized and the eight-unit assignment exorbitive. The real point to be made is that quantitative data are only the raw materials from which meaningful evaluations eventually emerge. The supervising administrator must then be able to interpret these data in terms of changing situations and flexible requirements.

The faculty effort formula described above contains entries probably not relevant to some situations; and, obviously, the listing of possible conversion items is not exhaustive. Yet, what has been discussed is a mechanism which has been used with some degree of success in a large performing arts center. Most of our faculty can now relate their effort to the 24-unit conversion formula. We are constantly revising the formula, both in terms of modification to the conversions themselves and additions to the list of items for which load credit is given (as in the case of thesis-research advising mentioned above). These revisions seem to be strengthening the basic instrument. The 24-unit plan may be with us for some time. And, we are confident that we are able to interpret our efforts for administrators and legislators in ways never before possible.

Autumn, 19__
Faculty-Staff Load Assignment

Name Course/Assignment Cr. Hr. Hrs./wk. 24-unit
Musician Music Middle Ages 3G 3 8
  Applied Harpsichord 2-4 8 8
  Seminar in Performance Practice 3 2 4
  Department Chairman     4
  Other assignments:      
    Recital Committees
    University Long-Range Planning
    Ph.D. Dissertation Advisor

Spring, 19__
Faculty-Staff Load Assignment

Name Course/Assignment Cr. Hr. Hrs./wk. 24-unit
Dean Assistant Dean   P.U. 16 16
  Orchestration 2 2 4
  Symphonic Wind Ensemble 1 4 6
  Other assignments:      
    Administrative Council
    Admissions and Scholarships Committee
    Advisor to Composition Majors

Summer, 19__
Faculty-Staff Load Assignment

Name Course/Assignment Cr. Hr. Hrs./wk. 24-unit
Producer Major Production - Falstaff     6
  Mini Production - The Medium     4
  Opera Workshop 3 6 6
  Song Literature 2 2 4
  Artist-in-Residence     2
  Other assignments:      
    Undergraduate Council
    Faculty Welfare Committee

1A recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee relative to salary differentials between Fine Arts faculties and faculties in other academic areas concluded that, to no one's surprise, Fine Arts faculty salary averages were below parity with their colleagues in other departments (by as much as 21% in one instance).

2As we began quantification studies some three years ago, we mistakenly believed that an operation as complex as a major performing arts school, emphasizing disciplines such as composition, performance, theoretic-historical studies, dance, broadcasting and film, for example, in a comprehensive academic environment which encompasses all degrees from the bachelor's degree through the doctorate, would be almost impossible to subject to quantitative evaluation. Surprisingly, however, this type of specialized school may well serve as a model for faculty accountability studies and eventually program budgeting and cost analysis systems.

3This conversion formula for determining faculty effort was initially developed by James Ireland (formerly Assistant to the Dean, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, now with the National Endowment for the Arts) and Jack M. Watson (former Dean of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, now retired). It was first applied by the writer in a cost analysis done for the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 1971.

4It should be pointed out that twenty-four hours of private teaching per week is above the level recommended by our accrediting agency, the National Association of Schools of Music—NASM. Their recommended maximum is about twenty hours of private teaching.

2314 Last modified on November 12, 2018