Carol Biliczky

The University of Akron and its full-time faculty have agreed to return to a policy in which teaching workloads are set by departments with input from the administration.

UA spokesman Wayne Hill said in an email that the “shared intent” is for university leaders to have “regular and ongoing consultation with faculty members to ensure accountability.”

University officials riled faculty last spring when they increased some fall teaching assignments. They said they wanted to ensure that all 700 full-time faculty were teaching to capacity to help reduce what was then a budget shortfall of about $27 million, spawned in part by a decline in enrollment.

The Akron chapter of the American Association of University Professors complained the university was violating its contract, which requires workload changes to be discussed with the union. The AAUP filed a grievance with the administration.

Each department is supposed to have a policy in place about faculty teaching loads, but some of these were overridden by the administration, said Steve Weeks, president of the Akron chapter of the AAUP. “It would be good if we would follow the rules that are in place.”

Hill said adjustments were made to about one-fifth of the bargaining unit, or about 140 faculty.

Meanwhile, UA trustees are expected to tighten the university’s budget at their next meeting this month to reflect a 5.9 percent decrease in enrollment this fall, the largest at a public research university in Ohio. The budget shortfall has grown since last winter to about $40 million.

The university already has eliminated 100 jobs, about half of which were empty; frozen staff and administrator salaries; and offered shorter workweeks to employees, five of whom accepted.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3729.