II.E.1. Statement on Faculty Responsibility
(Source: Office of the Provost, Almanac, October 7, 1980)
An appointment to the Standing Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania implies the recognition of a teacher-scholar’s professional achievements and promise. Although the final authority for the conduct of University affairs is vested in the Board of Trustees, much of that authority is delegated to the various faculties whose policies and decisions play the key role in determining the character of the University as an educational institution. Working with their deans, the Provost and the President, the faculties conduct the affairs of their schools and departments to the mutual advantage of their students, the University, and the scholarly community.
Traditionally, professional men and women have chosen university teaching posts partly because they allow for a flexible scheduling of time and an opportunity to pursue intellectual interests relatively free from distraction. In a research university, which has as its main functions the advancement and imparting of knowledge, teaching and scholarship may be said to have equal rank and to be interdependent. At the same time it must be recognized that the University is an institution of great complexity that requires a large expenditure of faculty time for its successful governance and operation. It is the purpose of this statement to indicate in a general way the minimum obligations of a faculty member toward the students and the institution. More specific obligations will be found in the policy statements of the various schools. Unless otherwise authorized by the University administration, all members of the Standing Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania will be expected to abide by the principles stated herein.
Teaching and Related Activities
Except for official leaves of absence, release time provided by research grants or administrative appointments, special ad hoc arrangements that permit teaching to be concentrated in one term during a particular academic year, or other official exemptions, faculty are expected to participate fully in the teaching program during each regular term of the academic year. Teaching loads, which may vary from time to time, are determined by the dean of each school in consultation with the faculty, the department chair and the Provost.
The teaching of students at all levels is to be distributed among faculty members without regard to rank or seniority as such. Basic-level courses are not deemed the exclusive province of the junior faculty nor advanced courses the unique domain of the senior faculty. It is important that undergraduates, including freshmen and sophomores, have significant opportunities to learn from eminent scholars. And junior faculty members should not be called upon to bear a disproportionately heavy share of the responsibility for large and pedagogically demanding basic-level courses. This is not to say that teaching assignments should be unrelated to research interests or teaching strengths. On the contrary, the marriage of teaching and research greatly enhances both enterprises. Moreover, to the extent that some professors are more adept at teaching small classes than large ones, or at leading discussions rather than lecturing, those comparative advantages are an appropriate consideration in allocating teaching responsibilities. Naturally, teachers should be flexible enough to offer courses outside narrow fields of specialization. A teacher whose class must be cancelled because of under enrollment is normally expected to make up this deficiency in scheduling. In addition to their formal course loads, faculty members are also expected to bear their fair share of the responsibility for supervising student research and independent study.
Becoming a member of the Standing Faculty of the University implies a willingness to accommodate oneself to the reasonable scheduling of courses, laboratories, faculty meetings, and committee assignments. Faculty members are expected to be available for advising and individual student conferences throughout the term by means of regularly scheduled office hours or appointments or both unless prevented by conflicting professional activities. Moreover, faculty members are also expected to be easily available to their colleagues. Only compelling personal or professional reasons should prevent faculty members from holding all classes at the scheduled times and places.
Every effort should be made to reschedule classes missed because of a teacher’s absence.
Formally scheduled final examinations are to be given only during the time periods officially announced (see Rules Governing Final Examinations and Administration of Examinations on Religious Holidays in Section IV. of this Handbook).
Appointments are made to the Standing Faculty of teacher-scholars whose research and publications are expected to continue throughout their active careers. Teaching loads at the University of Pennsylvania generally reflect the assumption that a significant part of the faculty member’s time will be devoted to research.
Another aspect of faculty activity is service to the department, the school, and the University. The faculty is involved in all decisions affecting courses, curricula, degrees, appointments and promotions, and in many other choices affecting the physical plant and the multifarious aspects of University life and activities. Thus, service as administrators and committee members is an important part of faculty life.
All three activities—teaching, research, and service—are of major importance, and all may be considered in determining salary levels and eligibility for promotion. Since some members may be called upon for extraordinary effort in one or more of these areas, such effort is consistent with adjustment in the others. Thus, exceptionally heavy administrative duties are often balanced by a reduction in teaching load. Taken in their entirety, faculty activities usually involve a total commitment of one’s professional time and efforts (see Conflict of Interest Policy, section II.E.10, in this Handbook).
(See page 5 – Almanac, October 7, 1980)