Tenure-track professors may gain an extra hour each week as an Academic Senate resolution seeks to update the existing office hours policy. The existing policy has been used since the 1980s.
While the existing policy is more ambiguous, the resolution defines the exact number of office hours faculty members must hold. Whereas full-time faculty were previously mandated to hold five office hours each week, the resolution would only requires four hours. The number of office hours is dependent on the number of instructional hours.
The existing policy does not consider online communication or email, according to the resolution. The resolution also notes the previous policy was created when faculty taught more classes (4-5 per term) than they do now (2-4 per term).
“[The Faculty Affairs Committee] wants to be really clear about meeting the needs of the student,” Faculty Affairs Committee chair and philosophy professor Kenneth Brown said.
The proposal also states the format of office hours must be congruent with the mode of teaching. For example, a professor could hold office hours on a video conference instead of in-person for online classes. Colleges may also assign office hours to advising functions.
The Academic Senate Faculty Affairs Committee has representatives from each college, the library, professional consultative services, Academic Affairs and student representatives from Associated Students, Inc (ASI).
In 2018, an office hour task force proposed an update to the office hour policy, but the policy was rejected.
Brown was on the Academic Senate Committee when the policy was proposed. The policy was rejected because there were no definite time requirements for the number of office hours faculty should hold, Brown said.
“I spoke against it because I thought not having that definiteness made it harder on the students,” Brown said. “They would have less clear expectations that their faculty would have meaningful office hours set aside.”
In this new policy, there is criteria for scaling office hours based on instructional hours, requirements for posting office hours, one hour of online office hours and other requirements that can be seen on the Academic Senate Executive Committee Agenda.
The new office hour policy will most likely be implemented by Fall 2020, according to Brown. The policy must undergo revisions from the Academic Senate before President Jeffrey Armstrong approves the policy.