- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - Administrators at the University of Northern Iowa have agreed to put a policy on hold that requires faculty to teach an extra course if they don’t complete enough research each semester, after some questioned its impact on education at the school.

UNI President Bill Ruud recently agreed to put a moratorium on the so-called “active scholar requirement” as the issue is discussed with the faculty union, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported (https://bit.ly/1hGawoI ).

Some faculty and students say the policy is punitive and limits academic freedom on campus. The Northern Iowa Student Government unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday against the requirement, saying it would likely have an adverse effect on faculty teaching.

“It’s really a disservice to students because it’s saying the quality of teaching doesn’t matter,” said Blake Findley, student body vice president.

The policy was detailed in a June 2011 memo to college deans that defined a teaching load for faculty in terms of credit hours. Faculty members that didn’t fulfill a research requirement were assigned an additional teaching course. Since then, the requirement has been revised to broaden the criteria of qualifying research.

Provost Gloria Gibson said the requirement was an effort to make sure faculty are treated equally in terms of workload.

“The overwhelming majority of UNI faculty are engaged in teaching, research/creative activity and service. Their commitment to our students, their professions and various types of outreach and service is stellar,” she told the newspaper in an email.

Joe Gorton, president of United Faculty, the faculty union, said the requirement is a “morale-crushing policy.”

“A person has much less time to devote for preparation, evaluation and creative work that goes into excellent teaching in a comprehensive university,” he said. “In some cases, it means students have a professor who is spread more thin than they normally are and understandably might be harboring some resentment about having to teach that course.”

Paul Siddens, a professor in the communications department that served on a task force to revise the requirement, said Gibson wants faculty input on correcting disapproval of the policy’s implementation.

“I do feel quite comfortable that this administration is way more interested in having conversations about things than having a blanket policy,” he said.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com


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