Workload has picked up, faculty at UNLV say

Under the strain of budget cuts, the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas are working harder than they were two years ago, statistics from the university and the state’s higher education system show. But whether it’s a tiny bit harder or a lot harder is unclear.

Measuring faculty workload is a difficult thing to do. Faculty teach classes, counsel students, conduct research, and serve on committees. They don’t punch a time clock.

The state’s higher education system puts out a faculty workload report every two years. The latest measures workload in the fall semester 2010 compared to the fall semester 2008.

The report shows a slight increase in the workload of the university’s regular faculty, in terms of the number of students taught, largely because class sizes increased and the number of faculty shrank because of budget cuts.

But the average number of classes taught by each faculty member remained flat at an even three for the semester. The system’s policy dictates that most faculty members teach three courses per semester unless they get a waiver. This follows national guidelines endorsed by the American Association of University Professors.

UNLV’s numbers are a little different.

University officials say faculty members averaged teaching 3.8 classes last fall, up from 3.6 in fall 2008 and 3.3 in fall 2006. That’s a 15 percent increase since 2006, before budget cuts began.

Why the difference? Because the higher education system and the university define what a class is differently.

Higher education system officials this year revamped the way they calculate what a class is. They consider a "class" only those situations including a faculty member, a classroom and students.

But university officials count things such as internship supervision a class.

Michael Bowers, UNLV’s provost and chief academic officer, said there is more to a faculty member’s work than simply teaching in a formal classroom. Counseling a doctoral student, for example. Reading a dissertation, making edits on it, helping the student revise it. That all counts as work.

So does research, which keeps faculty members up to date in their fields and can bring grant money to the university.

Same with serving as a department chairman or an associate dean. Those jobs bring administrative responsibilities in addition to the teaching workload, Bowers said. But the associate deans and department chairs are still counted as faculty members in the calculations.

"None of that is quantifiable in the sense that we write it down on a piece of paper and say, ‘This is how many hours I did this or that last week,’ " Bowers said.

He said people often get too hung up on classroom time as the only important thing a professor does. Three classes a semester means roughly 7½ hours total in the classroom per week. But Bowers said focusing only on that would be like focusing only on the time a football player is on the field or that a writer is actually typing. There is much more work involved, he said.


Greg Brown, a history professor and president of UNLV’s chapter of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, said faculty are working harder. Because of budget cuts, the university has 10 percent fewer full-time faculty than it did in 2006 and virtually the same number of students.

"The workload has increased substantially," Brown said.

State funding at UNLV has been cut by almost $50 million in three years. More cuts are expected this year.

Most university employees also were forced to take unpaid furloughs, as all state employees were. But tenured faculty members could not be forced to take less pay because they are under contract. The university instead required the equivalent amount of "extra" work last year. Typically that meant teaching an extra class.

That will change this year. If the Legislature requires state workers to take a pay cut, the higher education system’s Board of Regents gave itself the power to pass it along to all system employees.

Nationally, faculty at research universities put in less classroom time on average than the average faculty member at UNLV. The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics shows that two-thirds of the nation’s faculty members teach fewer than three classes a semester.

At UNLV, about one-third of the faculty members taught fewer than three classes last semester .

Of 712 full-time professors, 255 got what are called reassignments, or permission to teach fewer than three classes. Reasons can range from having to serve as a department chairman to, in one case, losing an election.

Dina Titus, for example, is a UNLV political science professor. She took a leave of absence in 2008 to run for Congress. She won but then lost that seat last year.

Titus returned to the university this semester, at an annual salary of $107,855, and is teaching only one class, Women in Politics. University officials said Titus got a waiver because she needs to "restart her research agenda and to write articles, books, and conference papers for further dissemination."

She is also working with the university’s literary Black Mountain Institute coordinating their research fellows, expanding the institute’s research forums and working with the university’s KUNV-TV to develop regular programming focused in BMI.


With professors such as Titus and department chairmen teaching only one or two classes, others are picking up the slack to get the average up to three per semester.

Pushkin Kachroo taught four classes last semester. A professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, he also supervises graduate student research and is director of the university’s Transportation Research Center.

Kachroo said he doesn’t have time to think about the workload of other professors, about whether it’s fair. "The transportation center is like a full-time job," said Kachroo, who spent 13 years at Virginia Tech before joining UNLV 3½ years ago. "But I’m doing it on the side."

Contact reporter Richard Lake at or 702-383-0307.

Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local astronomers host super blood wolf moon viewing
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society paired with the College of Southern Nevada to host a lunar eclipse viewing Sunday night. Known as the super blood wolf moon, the astronomical event won't occur for another 18 years. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas
The third annual Women’s March in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @btesfaye
First former felon to work for Nevada Department of Corrections
After his father died, Michael Russell struggled for years with drug addiction. When he finally decided to change for good, he got sober and worked for years to help others. Now he is the first former felon to be hired by the Nevada Department of Corrections. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing