University of Missouri Teaching Waivers Scrutinized - Higher Education
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University of Missouri Teaching Waivers Scrutinized

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by Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A new report shows that almost 40 percent of tenure-track faculty at the University of Missouri received waivers that allow them to reduce their teaching load during their final academic years.

According to the report, the majority of the waivers were for research purposes. The second-highest number of waivers went to faculty serving in administrative roles.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer says the percentage isn’t on par with other universities, and that the University of Missouri needs to communicate with the Legislature about how state funds are being spent.

The Jefferson City News Tribune  reports that the school prepared the report for Schaefer ahead of the next legislative session, when university funding is to be discussed. Gov. Jay Nixon announced in September that he would include a 6 percent increase in higher education funding in his 2017 fiscal year budget proposal.

State Sen. Brian Munzlinger pre-filed a bill on Dec. 1, only few days after the report was released, that would only allow 30 percent of tenure-track faculty to receive teaching waivers, and create a teaching waiver review board.

Ben Trachtenberg, chair of the university’s Faculty Council, says the waiver system benefits the university, and that it’s very common at similar schools. Trachtenberg says research brings in sought-after academics, provides opportunities for students and makes money for the state.

“Faculty members who are doing the most interesting research generally are still doing at least some teaching, and their teaching is going to be informed by their being on the cutting edge of important work,” Trachtenberg said. “It boosts the reputation of the university, which is good for all of our students and alumni.”

The chairman also explains that the number of administrative roles has slowly increased in the last decade and that universities are now asked to do more things that they did not do in the past like the school’s Counseling Center and the Title IX office.

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