Dean's Newsletter

Vol. 7, Issue 3

Winter 2013: Vol. 7, Issue 3

Work. Labor. Toil. Strenuous effort. Purposeful activity.
Load. Burden. That which is laid upon a person to be carried.

The question of how much and what kinds of labor or toil employees owe to their employer in exchange for their salary is not a modern concern. Old agrarian work rhythms were changed by the placement of mechanical clocks in 14th-century town squares, and this made it possible to regulate workloads by means of the amount of uniform hours in the day a worker was supposed to give to his employer. This system is still used today for our classified staff members at CSU. However, one can also determine workload simply by measuring productivity, i.e., how much a worker produces for the employer, regardless of how many hours it takes The workloads of those staff members with managerial contracts, for example, are measured by this standard, and the required outputs are often exactly defined by their supervisors.

Tenured and tenure-track university faculty members generally fall into the latter category, and they are given a significant amount of freedom to determine the outputs—in terms of how and what they teach in their classes, what they contribute in the way of service, and what they produce as research or creative activity. Only one of these is linked to the clock, and that is how many hours per week faculty members spend in the classroom. These are set every year in annual workload meetings conducted between the department chairperson and the individual faculty member and, then, between the chairperson and the college dean.

As I reported at the last CLASS Faculty Meeting, the CSU administration has instructed colleges to move toward a greater workload differentiation among the faculty, with those faculty who are significantly active in assessable research and creative activity having lower teaching loads and those who are more oriented toward teaching having higher teaching loads. This kind of differentiation is allowed by the AAUP contract. In order to accomplish this fairly, the CLASS Dean’s Office is drafting new research expectation guidelines with the help of CLASS chairpersons in each of our three divisions—humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. Draft suggestions from the chairpersons are due in my office by December 21st, and I and the Associate Deans will review these and make revisions if necessary. Then, in my workload meetings with the chairpersons in January 2013, we will use these guidelines to help determine faculty workloads for academic year 2013-14. In applying these guidelines we will not only be as fair as possible but we will also be mindful of article 13 of the contract. However, after having received a clarification from the Provost’s Office, we will not, as I reported at the last Faculty meeting, be applying a fixed percentage target for the number of CLASS faculty with elevated teaching loads.

Faculty professional leaves provide a special case for faculty workloads, for here the faculty member does not teach at all but is expected to produce even more significant accomplishments in research and productivity, and faculty are required to report on these accomplishments after they have completed their leaves. I would like to review and celebrate a few highlights from these accomplishments, which I have taken from the most recent batch of faculty reports.

In the Department of Political Science, Neda Zawahri, for example, co-authored a paper on the effectiveness of treaty design in managing international rivers, co-edited an issue of International Environmental Agreements (containing yet another of her essays), wrote a successful $196,000 grant proposal for USAID technical Leadership program, and conducted further research on rivers in the Middle East. Rob Kleidman, from the Department of Sociology and Criminology, conducted participant-observation research on contemporary community organizing and is in the process of drafting two scholarly articles.

In the School of Communication, Rick Perloff worked on two sole-authored book manuscripts. Dr. Perloff completed six chapters of the first, a multidisciplinary political communication textbook, and he anticipates the book will be completed by next June. The second project is a completely new edition of his popular book The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century. In addition to these scholarly manuscripts, Dr. Perloff produced a two-part series of articles for the Cleveland Jewish News. Bob Abelman co-authored a 327-page book manuscript entitled Referring the Muses: A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer. This book will be published by Peter Lang Publishing in the spring of 2013.

In the Department of Economics, Bill Kosteas revised an article entitled “The Effect of Exercise on Earnings: Evidence from the NLSY,” and this article was not only published by the Journal of Labor Research but also received a good amount of notice in the popular press. He also completed a second article, “Gender Role Attitudes, Labor Supply, and Human Capital Formation,” which is currently under review by the Journal of Human Capital.

In the Art Department, Samantha Baskind completed her latest book, Jewish Artists and the Bible in Twentieth-Century America (Penn State University Press), wrote an annotated bibliography on modern Jewish art for the Oxford Bibliographies, and wrote two successful grant proposals. George Mauersberger completed a large body of paintings, entitled “USA Leather and Other Drawings,” which are currently being displayed at the Bonfoey Gallery in downtown Cleveland. In addition to completing the drawings, Mr. Mauersberger spent time documenting his creative processes on video, and he will share these films on social media sites and use them in his classes.

John Perrine, from the Department of Music, worked with 15 university-level saxophone players on a weekly basis to construct a curriculum for his music ensemble. The curriculum includes a set of printed études to be used as warm-up exercises. Angelin Chang not only recorded the complete piano works of Ohio composer Jack Gallagher but also gave performances and/or masterclass presentations at Severance Hall, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the House of Blues (Chicago) and three universities, North Texas, Princeton, and Cornell.

In the Philosophy Department, Diane Steinberg completed a major article manuscript entitled “Spinoza on Representation in Human Minds” and submitted the article to the History of Philosophy Quarterly, a top-tier journal in her field. Dr. Steinberg also created a new graduate course covering the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza, which she successfully taught in the fall semester 2012.

In the History Department, José Solá conducted primary research and completed two chapters of his book on the sugar industry in Puerto Rico. He also won a grant to attend a spring 2013 research seminar at the Baker-Nord Humanities Center at Case-Western Reserve University. Meshack Owino traveled to Kenya to complete primary research on Kenyan soldiers and then completed a major article entitled “The Impact of Kenya African Soldiers on the Creation and Evolution of the Pioneer Corps during the Second World War.” The article has been submitted to the Journal of African History. Dr. Owino also continued to revise his dissertation for future publication as a scholarly monograph.

Finally, in the Department of English, Adam Sonstegard completed a thorough revision of his book manuscript entitled Artistic Liberties: American Literary Realism and Graphic Illustration, 1880-1905. The book has been accepted for publication by the University of Alabama Press and will appear next year. During his professional leave, Mike Geither co-produced the NEOMFA Playwrights Festival with Convergence Continuum in Cleveland. He also wrote two plays, how small, how far away and The Attaining Gigantick Dimensions, for the Zuppa Theatre of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In addition, he co-authored several plays with Daniel Mroz of the University of Ottawa: Shah Mat and Treat the Distant Peoples with Kindness. The former was performed at Ottawa Dance Directive, and the latter premiered at the University of Ottawa.

From researching Middle East water conflicts to producing cutting-edge plays in Canada, the outcomes of CLASS faculty professional leaves were impressive in both quality and quantity. The reports indicate that these leaves were truly work-time well spent.

Although Lynn Deering was not on leave last year, I am happy to report that she has just been granted a $31,399 from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture for a project entitled “Intersections: Connecting Community through Acts of Intergenerational Creativity.”

In celebration of the winter holiday season, Cleveland Play House produced “A Carol for Cleveland,” a play based on a work by noted Cleveland writer Les Roberts. I went to see the play as a part of a benefit event for the CSU Theatre and Dance programs. Inspired by the Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, Roberts tells the story of a long-term unemployed Pennsylvania steel worker named Ed Podolak, who hits the bottom of his fortunes but who finds redemption during the snowy Cleveland winter holidays. Like Dickens’ novella, the play reinforces the fundamental value of human connections, whether they are with family, friends, or new acquaintances. But it also underscores the fundamental value of having a job, particularly the role that regular work has in supporting one’s personal sense of worth, dignity, and well being. The play reminds us that at this season of the year, we should also celebrate being lucky enough to have work obligations in the first place.

I wish you and your family a very happy holiday celebration as well as a prosperous and healthy new year!

Best wishes,