St. Olaf plans to move the teaching burden for tenured faculty from six to five St. Olaf credits per academic year, said President David Anderson ’74 at a Nov. 10 faculty meeting. Non-tenure-track faculty will remain with a six-credit load but will no longer be asked to accept student advisees. Non-tenured faculty with a full teaching load who still advise students will accept a compensatory stipend. The change will be accompanied by a move by the college to hire 10 new tenure-track teaching positions. However, it will also require the abandonment of a previously set goal to get 60 percent of St. Olaf courses to a registration level under 19 students, maintaining the low student-to-teacher ratio on which the College prides itself.
The smaller number of faculty eligible for advising will also mean that tenured faculty will have to increase their number of advisees from a 20-student cap to as high as 25 students. Political science professor and department chair Douglas Casson described some concerns among faculty about equity between tenured and non-tenured professors’ teaching loads, but also expressed optimism about the plan.
“I’m excited to have more time for my students,” Casson said. He also noted that reducing teaching load will help the college to attract instructors, a necessary step in the school’s goal of becoming a more nationally competitive and recognized college. The plan to become a nationally recognized liberal arts college has become a central topic of discussion among St. Olaf’s faculty.
Teaching load changes are not permanent — Anderson made it clear during the faculty meeting that the college would be moving to secure more funding for instructor hires and increase the number of instructors teaching just five credits annually.