BILSA memo reminds faculty of full-time work responsibilities

On Sept. 21, Wayne Weber, dean of the College of Business Industry Life Science and Agriculture, released a memo to the college regarding the attendance of full-time faculty and academic staff members.

The memo restates the University of Wisconsin–Platteville and UW System policy that all “full-time faculty and academic staff have a presence on campus every day of the five day work week.”

Also, these same staff members are required to “be actively working” for a minimum of 40 hours a week, whether they are on or off campus.

“(The memo was) just a reminder policy that already exists,” said Liz Throop, dean of the college of liberal arts and education, who collaborated with Weber and released a similar memo in late September.

The policy curbs the ability of a full-time staff member to schedule their classes and office hours as such that they would not have to be on campus one or more days a week.

As recently appointed deans of their respective colleges, Throop and Weber were merely reiterating what they thought to be important policies, Throop said.

“Dean Weber’s big goal is to make sure policies and procedures are clear,” said Jodi McDermott, assistant dean of BILSA.  “With the large turnover (of new professors) at the university, (we were) just making sure we’re up to date.”

However, exceptions to this policy can be made for any staff member if they write a rationale as to why they believe variations to their schedule are necessary, with the rationale approved by the dean.

“My experience in my four and a half months (as dean) is that we have an outstanding faculty,” Throop said.  “They are committed to students and this campus, but (in terms of respecting the policy) there are always a few bad apples.”

When a faculty member is not present on campus, a greater burden is placed upon those members who are, said Mary Rose Williams, chair of the Department of Media Studies.

These professors either take on helping students who need advisement from the absent professor or operate faculty functions either without or in the place of said professor.

Not all agree with this statement or with the policy.

“It doesn’t matter when you’re on campus if you put in the time and make yourself available to students,” said Industrial Studies professor Kyle Metzloff, a full-time staff member who commutes from his home in Madison four days a week.

Metzloff said he works 40 or more hours during his four days on campus, and spends his day away from the campus helping better the university through various methods, such as recruitment.

Though he has never personally had an issue with a professor being away from campus, Jordan Hahn, a senior communication technologies major with an emphasis in broadcast, still believes full time professors and staff should be present five days a week.

“Students have more availability for a one-on-one with a (professor),” Hahn said.

If Hahn cannot meet a professor in person, he e-mails them and either solves the matter via e-mail or schedules an appointment, but says he still thinks the best way to discuss an issue is in person.