Q & A

My class was cancelled. Do I have to make it up

October 10, 2017 / Phil Lesch

Faculty members contact us regularly about course cancellations. Most advise that the classes were cancelled at the last minute with little notice; many faculty members have done substantial prep work for that class; some of these classes are cancelled with more people enrolled than other classes that are allowed to continue. A common reaction is confusion.

Some have been told that the cancellation of the class creates a “course debt” that needs to be “made up.” Recently a director of a program reached out to HR and was told that it was a practice to ask faculty members reschedule courses throughout the academic year. PSU-AAUP does not agree. This is not a practice. In fact, in every case where PSU-AAUP has been involved we have advocated that the faculty member NOT agree to an additional course in a later term.

It is common for faculty members to schedule research and service around coursework far in advance. By the time the academic year starts, most faculty members have a really good idea what their academic year and its workload will look like. Many will have made important commitments regarding their scholarship and service around their teaching schedule. When a course is cancelled, for most faculty members the work that it takes to drive a course is not work that can be added to other terms without creating an overload situation, or without jeorpardizing planned scholarship. 

PSU-AAUP views the course added to a later term from a course cancellation in a prior term as additional duties in that later term that is subject to CBA Article 30 Preamble. This contract section gives faculty members the right to negotiate addition duties for additional compensation, and to turn down additional work if the compensation offered is not sufficient.

In every case where a faculty member has been asked to “pick up” or “pay back” a course from a course cancelled by administration, PSU-AAUP has advised that there is no such thing as a course debt or need to pay back. PSU-AAUP does agree that a “course debt” is created when a course is cancelled.Workload is a mandatory subject of bargaining and we have not agreed to anything like this.  PSU-AAUP has consistently advised faculty members that if they are going to add a course in a later term, that they not do so for free. 

When a course is cancelled, administration is free to assign equivalent work during the term the class is cancelled; that is the term where the course cancellation creates a workload imbalance. After the term is over, however, no additional work can be assigned without triggering CBA Article 30 Preamble. A faculty member is free, of course, to agree to teach an additional class in a later term, but those are additional duties, and the faculty member is entitled to additional compensation and they should not do so for free.

Should administration “assign” a faculty member to teach an additional course in a later term after cancelling a class in a prior term, they have violated CBA Article 30 preamble and PSU-AAUP should file a grievance on the matter.

Questions about this should be directed to Phil Lesch.  

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