TURLOCK -- California State University, Stanislaus, administrators are pressuring professors to spend more time on activities outside the classroom in an attempt, students and professors believe, to increase the university's visibility.
The goal is to get faculty completing more research, getting more papers and projects published in journals or magazines and securing more outside funding such as grants, according to an e-mail sent to university employees by faculty union president Steven Filling.
Though there are benefits to having professors involved in research and publishing, students and professors are worried it will mean fewer courses and larger classes because faculty would have less time to teach. Combine that with state budget cuts that will make it more difficult to fill 22 teaching positions for 2008-09, and the university will have to do more with less, Provost Bill Covino said.
"We advertise the personal nature of the university. We brag about it, then we're sitting over here destroying it," said Filling, who is an accounting professor.
In his April 29 letter, Filling urged professors to review their workloads. Most are teaching three to four classes a semester, but professors at ranking research universities average one or two.
Student body president Andrew Janz said he's heard about the shift, but doesn't know enough about it to have a position. He did say students need access to their professors and classes.
Some professors already engage in research or publishing, but administrators want more. The university's major research initiative is the Endangered Species Recovery Program, a cooperative research program focused on biodiversity conservation in Central California. In 2007-08, the project secured $2.5 million in state and federal funding, said Juan Carlos Morales, assistant vice president of research and sponsored programs, a position created this year to help faculty find funding for projects.
Covino said the university has been heading toward more research and funding requirements for the past five years. When professors research, students -- undergraduate and graduate -- get exposure to the projects, he said.
"Research and teaching are not independent enterprises," Covino said. He added that departments are looking for strategies to increase faculty outside-the-class activities without decreasing class offerings to students.
Some faculty contend the university's expectations have changed since they were hired. During their reviews, professors said they are being dinged or strongly encouraged to participate in more research, publishing or grant writing, especially those that will win national recognition.
In addition to tight staffing, Cal State Stanislaus lacks lab space and equipment expected for research projects, Filling said.
Chemistry Professor Koni Stone is weary of the increased emphasis on research and publishing, saying it takes away from the student-teacher interaction.
"It's a whole different game. (Research institutions) are very competitive. This is much more collaborative," she said, adding that many professors come to Cal State Stanislaus because they prefer to focus on teaching.
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