Flexible Workload Assignment for Faculty Responding to External Events

Approved by ELT 2/13/2006


In this policy, the conditions under which redistribution of a faculty member’s workload may be authorized to avoid inflexible assignments, that require the faculty member to be present at a particular place at particular times, are described, as well as the implementation of the policy. An assignment to teach a class is one example of an inflexible assignment. This policy will result in the faculty member having a more flexible workload assignment during periods when it is anticipated that the faculty member will need to respond, with little notice, to one or a series of external events. A complementary example of a flexible assignment is development of materials for a new course or laboratory.
These external events may be caused by circumstances resulting from personal choices and interests, personal conditions, or unavoidable personal responsibilities. These “qualifying circumstances” may include, but are not limited to: arrival of a new child in a family; assuming responsibility for care of a sick or elderly relative; transitioning through a period of adjustment following illness, being on-call for response to natural or man-made disasters, participating in community or state projects that are not directly related to scholarly activity, but relates to the engagement mission of the university. Implementation of this policy is meant to improve the climate and manage any conflict that arises as faculty members strive to respond to personal, societal and professional demands, particularly in periods of transition. It is recognized that by providing this flexibility, the climate within the University and the broader community is greatly enhanced and Community-University relations strengthened.

This policy supplements existing University Policies. For example, tenure-clock relief, as described in the University Guidelines, is an additional benefit available to those faculty members who happen to be in the probationary period when a particular need arises. This Flexible Workload Assignment Policy applies to all faculty members at any point in their careers and will be implemented when impending circumstances are approved as “qualifying.” The duration of these flexible assignments will typically be a semester in length.


  1. Workload redistribution is available to any faculty member who encounters “qualifying circumstances.”
    1. Circumstances will be considered as “qualifying” when implementation of the policy is deemed to improve the climate within the University and/or the broader community.
    2. To ensure consistent implementation of the policy across the College of Engineering, the Head of the faculty member’s School/Department will work with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs when determining if circumstances are qualifying and what workload redistributions are appropriate.
  2. The provision of workload redistributions (as with a deviation from the tenure policy) shall not be considered by Engineering Primary Committees, nor by the EAPC, in their deliberations on promotion and/or tenure cases.
  3. The provision of workload redistributions shall not be considered by School or Department Heads, or the Dean, when responding to faculty requests for resources to support their scholarly activities.


  1. A written request from a faculty member to his/her Head, with a copy to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs is the normal method to invoke the policy.
  2. When the onset of the “qualifying circumstances” can be predicted, the request should be made as early as possible to facilitate smooth running of the School/Department’s academic program.
  3. One of the roles of a Head is to mentor and advise his/her faculty members, therefore, when a qualifying event is known to exist, the Head should actively encourage the faculty member to initiate this process.
  4. The decision on the request and the nature of the workload redistribution should be determined case-by-case by the Head, in consultation with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
  5. It is the responsibility of the Head in consultation with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to ensure that all requests are handled fairly, compassionately, and without the imposition of any formal or informal sanctions or penalties on the requestor.
  6. This policy will be reviewed after three years.