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Arizona State University writing instructors may see workload increase with no change in pay

Arizona State University instructors of first-year writing courses may be forced to add another course to their workloads without a change in pay, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Sixty full-time, non-tenure-track faculty members received an email this month from Arizona State’s English Department Chair Mark Lussier, that invited them to a meeting to discuss “the financial situation within the department and the need to move to a five-five teaching load beginning in the next academic year.”

One of the ways ASU wants to balance the budget is by having each full-time, non-tenure-track instructor teach five courses per semester instead of four, beginning next fall.

“This is bad idea because, No. 1, instructors already do a ton of work,” said a long-term instructor of first-year writing at Arizona State who moderates a website and petition protesting the university’s plan. “We also provide valuable service to the [English] department and the writing program, which is one of the largest in the nation.”

Typically, instructors teach four classes with 25 students in each class. Even those numbers are above the standards recommended by professional organizations.

Lussier added: “This does not make me happy, but given the budgetary constraints under which we operate this change (which has already arrived in most locations across the university) will quite likely become necessary.”

The money issue continues to be a huge sticking point as instructors who already teach a fifth course will no longer receive overload pay.

Many instructors are protesting the plan and have created a petition to fight it.


Arizona State had the following statement from the report on

ASU has some people in instructor appointments whose assignments consist of teaching five courses per term. This has been the case in the past, is currently the case, and will be in the future. These are full-time, benefits-eligible positions. Generally, full-time instructors are not assigned professional development or faculty committee duties. In this case, full-time instructors that had those duties (previously 20% of their jobs) are having those duties taken over by others in the department so that the instructors can focus fully on teaching.

The top priorities for the department remain the needs of students and the faculty who teach them. First-year students from around the world gain entry into the university environment through our courses, which retain relatively small enrollment caps. The department faculty continue to deliver superb instruction and award respected degrees, while conducting ground-breaking research and creative work.