[Q&A] If admin cancels my class, do I have a debt to repay for that cancelled class?

April 13, 2018 / Phil Lesch

This issue of “owing” a course comes up repeatedly. While the contract does not speak to it, past practice has been that it is administration’s burden to assign other work to a faculty member whose class they cancelled. This work will be assigned during the same term as the class cancellation. If, in the future, administration were to create a workload policy to create faculty debts to teach a cancelled class (for their own reasons), administration would have to notice PSU-AAUP and bargain over that policy. In this case PSU-AAUP would not readily agree. Faculty members--especially tenure track and tenured faculty members--schedule their research, field work, and writing far in advance based on their upcoming teaching assignments. The advance commitment that the University makes to the faculty member in regards to their teaching assignments must be respected, and we see it akin to a contract. If administration cancels a class, it is their responsibility to use you for something else in the current term, and that is it.

A faculty member cannot be obligated to teach above your their workload the following year due to administration’s cancellation of classes. An additional class the following year constitutes additional duties for which you have a right to be compensated, pursuant to the preamble of Article 30 in the collective bargaining agreement. That means you have a right to say no if they do not agree to an adequate compensation level. Any faculty member who is told that they owe a class due to a cancellation should immediately contact PSU-AAUP. We will file a grievance for every one of these instances.

Administration also may not reduce a faculty member’s FTE due to a cancelled class. Their historic calculus of the cost of putting on a class has not considered the cost of the faculty member if administration cannot assigned them other work. This has been an ongoing error. We assert that if the cost of the faculty member not teaching is factored into the minimum enrollment equation, far fewer classes would end up being cancelled.

Further, there is no policy or agreement with PSU-AAUP on banking classes- you can’t work an extra class this term to get released from teaching a class next term. That would also require negotiations and agreement between PSU-AAUP and administration.

Lastly, there is no such thing as a “credit hour obligation.” Any administrator who says something different is trying to establish a new policy to circumvent PSU-AAUP. Contact PSU-AAUP if any of these issues arise.

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