Dean of the Faculty

Teaching Relief Policy Guide

Faculty members who assume significant administrative responsibilities within their department may be granted some amount of relief from regular classroom teaching.

Faculty members who assume significant administrative responsibilities within their department may be granted some amount of relief from regular classroom teaching. Typical examples include those serving as Department Chair and (in many cases) Director of Graduate Studies or Director of Undergraduate Studies. There may also be other situations in which some limited amount of teaching relief is appropriate. In considering whether to award teaching relief, Department Chairs should be mindful of the following guidelines:

  • Department chairs are typically expected to teach half the normal load. However, chairs of science departments, in which the usual load is one course per semester and chairs of some small departments often continue to teach a full load while serving as chair. Those who do so may be permitted a research leave following their term as chair. Any such arrangement must be discussed in advance and approved in writing by the Dean.
  • Responsibilities such as Director of Graduate Studies or Director of Undergraduate Studies may also result in teaching relief, depending on circumstances and on the size of the department. Department chairs have the flexibility to make such arrangements as long as the general expectations are clearly understood and they are attentive to the general guidelines described in this policy.
  • For some administrative tasks it may be appropriate to provide one course off every other year, or one course off after three years of service.
  • Team-teaching a large course or a new course may result in two faculty members getting credit for one course, which amounts to a form of teaching relief. Such arrangements should generally be restricted to a fixed period of time and should carry the expectation that both faculty members will actually be in the classroom for the entire semester.
  • In general, departments in the Humanities and Social Sciences with fewer than 10 regular faculty should grant relief for no more than 2 courses (typically to the chair); those with regular faculty numbering between 10 and 14 may grant a third course off to the Director of Graduate Studies or Director of Undergraduate Studies, depending on the needs of the curriculum and weight of responsibilities (or perhaps a course-off every other year to each of the two directors so that the total course relief in any given year is 3); those with 15 or more faculty should generally grant 4 courses off; only in departments with more than 25 regular faculty should it be necessary to grant a fifth course off for administrative responsibilities.
  • The smaller number of formal courses offered by faculty in science departments means that they should, as a rule, use no more than 3 courses a year for administrative duties.

Limits to Teaching Relief

  • All faculty members should teach at least one course in each semester when they are not on leave or parental teaching relief. As a corollary, note that in departments with a normal teaching load of three courses a year, a faculty member who will be on leave for one semester of an academic year should teach 2 courses during the other semester.
  • All faculty should normally teach at least one undergraduate course per year.
  • We continue to see occasional cases in which faculty members with named chairs have had a lower than normal teaching load. It should be understood that this is not University policy, and department chairs should be careful not to make such promises to colleagues who are appointed to named chairs.

External Support

If a faculty member receives external support to cover part of his/her academic year salary, it may be possible to arrange for teaching relief on a per-course basis, subject to the following conditions:

  • The Department Chair must assess the impact of the proposal on the department's curriculum. Releases will only be considered if the department's curricular needs can be met.
  • No release should result in a faculty member teaching less than one course per semester.
  • In general, 25% of academic year salary (plus benefits), from a grant that provides the usual fringe and overhead, would allow for a one-course reduction, and in addition, DOF would contribute $10,000 (plus 8% benefits) in replacement teaching funds to the department.

Deviations & Exceptions

Any deviations from the guidelines laid out in this document should be discussed with the Dean, and any exceptions regarding a particular faculty member's teaching load should normally be raised in the spring planning meetings. Every year, before these meetings, the Dean's office will asked Department Chairs to provide a list of any faculty members who are teaching less than a full load, and the reasons for their teaching reductions.

This is a revised version of the 2006 memo on norms for distributing teaching relief for departmental service. This set of policies concerns teaching relief for departmental duties, not course relief that may be awarded by the Dean of the Faculty or the Provost for administrative tasks beyond the departmental level. It applies only to departments reporting to the Dean of the Faculty.