At least two college deans on campus are pushing chairs to assign extra teaching to faculty who haven't produced any research over some period of time. This raises all sorts of issues re the FA contract, tenure and promotion, and merit procedures (even if we have no merit for the next few years, more teaching now will mean less research production later). But I wanted to start a thread for faculty to comment on this push on its merits. Would you like to empower your chair to assign additional teaching to faculty she or he determines are non-productive in research?
While I see a certain attraction to this proposal--we all know of at least a few colleagues who do not appear to be carrying their fair share of the load--the more I think about it, the less I think of it. There are already external motivators to do research, both formal (tenure, promotion, merit) and informal (the respect of one's colleagues), in addition to our own internal motivations. And formally stigmatizing faculty who are regarded as under productive in research by assigning them more teaching would have all sorts of negative effects. It would set up a two-tier system in which most of us are regarded as bona fide research faculty, but a few are delegated to second-class status. Relegating those faculty to a teaching ghetto would obviously not increase our research; nor does it seem likely to me that forcing faculty to take on additional courses they will regard as punishment will produce a positive classroom experience for anyone. Any gains in efficiency by squeezing a few more classes out of each department would be more than offset by such losses to collegiality and morale.
There are better ways of doing this than the current top-down idea, but I'm not sure they are worth pursuing either. Some faculty may decide that they have come to a point in their careers when they are no longer interested in doing research, and be prepared to volunteer for more teaching; for them additional teaching could be an honorable way to ensure that they are doing their fair share of the work. But if we wish to retain our status as a research university, we don't want to encourage faculty to make this move. If we do encourage faculty to do so, we need to address all sorts of questions about how they are to be treated going forward. Does volunteering for an additional class also result your removing any lingering chance you have for promotion to full professor by further diminishing your ability to do research--and voluntarily marking yourself as a non-researcher? Does you lose any access to merit pay you might have received by doing research during the time you must now devote to extra teaching? And there is a slippery slope problem here, as it is not always clear when a faculty member is genuinely volunteering to teach more, as opposed to giving in to pressure to volunteer when he or she would rather have the time to do research, despite having run into something of a dry spell in research productivity.
Speaking of research productivity, enough from me in this line. I would expect this topic to generate a lively comment stream, for those who have met their research quota for the day.