Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, introduced a bill Thursday that would require all professors in the UNC system, regardless of research obligations, to teach at least eight courses per academic year to receive their full salary.
The bill would likely hit hardest at the public research universities in the state, such as UNC and N.C. State University, compared to the more teaching-based universities, such as UNC-Pembroke. A 2014 report found that UNC-system faculty teach an average of 3.7 courses per semester.
State law currently requires professors at research universities to teach at least two classes per semester. UNC-CH professors, including tenured, fixed-term and adjunct faculty, averaged 2.8 courses for fall 2013, while N.C. State professors averaged three courses.
McInnis contends that professors’ primary role is course instruction, saying in a statement that university students should actually be taught by professors, not student teaching assistants. The bill would not affect the course loads of graduate students teaching lab courses or recitation sections.
“There is no substitute for a professor in the classroom to bring out the best in our students,” McInnis said. “I look forward to the debate that will be generated by this important legislation.”
But W. Fitzhugh Brundage, UNC’s history department chair, doesn’t agree.
“How exactly is a grad student supposed to learn how to teach if he/she is never given the opportunity to teach before being hired for their first job?” he said.
As for the history department, Brundage said the overwhelming majority of classes are taught by faculty.