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Changes to Mountwest faculty workload held off until fall

December 7, 2018

HUNTINGTON — The Mountwest Community and Technical College Board of Governors met Thursday for a special session to discuss potential changes to how employee workload is determined — changes that have left some faculty concerned.

The board took no official action but did come to a consensus with MCTC President Keith Cotroneo that the workload standards won’t change until the start of the 2019 fall semester when faculty contracts are renewed.

Board policy stipulates full-time faculty must teach 15 credit hours a semester, or 30 credit hours in an academic year, along with eight office hours scheduled over four days. Currently, that workload is calculated in terms of credit hours taught for lecture and contact hours for laboratory courses.

Cotroneo, who is acting as chief academic officer on an interim basis, wants to change how laboratory courses are credited toward employee workload.

Currently, a faculty member receives one credit hour for a lecture, which normally lasts just under an hour. Labs typically are two to three hours long, and though the student only receives one credit hour, the faculty member receives an equivalent of the number of hours spent in the lab. That is not typical at the community colleges in the state or the nation, Cotroneo says, partly because labs tend to be more independent, even if an instructor is in the room.

For example, at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, faculty must work two lab hours to receive one credit hour toward workload. West Virginia University Parkersburg only gives .75 of a credit for labs.

“Part of my perspective is there needs to be an equitable workload across the faculty,” Cotroneo said.

The potential change brought about 40 faculty members to Thursday’s meeting. Ed Bays, faculty representative, said the change would greatly affect allied health courses.

“(Allied health) does a lot of contact hours,” Bays said. “The premise that a lecture hour is more work, more intense — whatever the case may be — compared to lab hours is incorrect. What we are doing in the lab is sometimes harder than a lecture class. Many of us that do both would prefer to do a lecture because it would be easier than equipment setup, breakdown and all those things.”

Board member Cathy Burns suggested Cotroneo form a committee with faculty members to discuss the workload formula.

The board was also at odds with Cotroneo about whether the workload board policy was in compliance with the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical Education’s policies.

The council’s policy states college presidents and provosts have the authority to determine workload equivalency. Cotroneo said the board’s policy outlining the workload put them at odds with the state policy.

But board members, particularly board chairman Jeffrey Goad, who sought outside counsel in the matter, and vice chairman Matthew Deerfield, an attorney, disagreed. They argued the board is Cotroneo’s boss and while he had the authority to change the workload formula, if it went against the board’s wishes they could take action against him.

The board also realized the college had been out of compliance with its own policy for at least four years, but possibly as many as 13 years. Faculty was supposed to be submitting workload worksheets to administration to determine their workload, per the board policy and their contracts, but it hadn’t happened until this fall when Cotroneo took over the academic officer duties.

Due to this oversight, Goad indicated he would like to start reviewing board policies in the new year to determine if they are being implemented or are even necessary.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the MCTC board of governors is 8 a.m. Jan. 17. The board may choose to cancel the meeting since they met Thursday.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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