Fitzgerald suggests that it's hard to get "work" done in campus offices, and that tenure demands for publication fuels faculty needs to work off campus. (At NWU, requirements for tenure and promotion subtly shift up all the time, at least partly the faculty's fault, but also in response to administrative pressures.)
While that seems likely, I'd also suggest that faculty may be in their offices with doors closed, doing the additional paperwork sorts of work that seems to keep getting added to our loads in various ways.
Even basic stuff, such as writing syllabi, seems more complicated. A while back, I found a syllabus I got in college. It's one side of one page, and basically gives the readings for the semester and test dates. We're now expected to give information about how we're evaluating students, what plagiarism is and how we'll deal with it, absence policies, various sorts of help available on campus, and on and on. Some of it's cut and paste from previous terms, but sometimes we add new stuff; I have a colleague who wrote up a civility policy after dealing with a particularly rude student last semester.
And then there's "delivery," how we try to teach students whatever we're tying to teach. How much time do people spend on powerpoints so that they can make them available to students? I'm guessing a lot more than my art history prof used to spend picking out slides for a lecture. In addition, we probably all spend time setting up course management sites, putting up assignments, arranging whatever. (Does this take longer or less long than the copies of readings that were stapled into folder for check out at my undergrad library for readings not in the textbook? I don't know. I think I probably assign more out of text readings than I was assigned, but I wasn't an English major.)
Don't forget about advising and student services: we're all asked to send notes to the Dean of Students if we have students "of concern," students who aren't coming to class enough, students who seem depressed, students who come to class hungover. We're supposed to track these students' emotional states and notify whatever offices on campus seem appropriate. (And in order to do that, we're asked to take special computer modules about student depression or whatever.)
Finally, there's the endless assessment game, and all the meetings we have to attend to decide what and how we're going to assess whatever it is, and then the additional time to fill out the forms that the assessment folks demand, with ever changing goals and targets.
And all the committee work that needed to be done ten years ago still needs to be done, but here in my department, we're down about 20% of faculty from 10 years ago, so we have fewer people doing the work, and more work (assessment, especially) is required all the time.
So here's what bothered me about the article. Fitzgerald seems surprised by these changes. But here at NWU, at least, people write bigger syllabi in response to administrative requirements (read: the dean's office sends a mandate). People make up powerpoints and study guides because administration pressures them to in some fields. And by golly, administrative pressures are behind every single bit of endless assessment work we do.
Did she not notice as dean that the administration was making continually increasing demands on faculty? (Was she not making those demands or seeing them made somehow?)
Fitzgerald comes up with a typically deanly remedy: she praises the creation of
events such as regular colloquia, lunches, teas, and happy hours to give people a chance to interact. Some may view those social opportunities as a huge time-waster. I would argue that, on the contrary, collegiality and collaboration are part of what we are paid for.I'm not the best happy hour person (I have a low enough alcohol capacity to not drink anything alcoholic if I have to drive), but these sound pretty nightmarish to me.
If we really want to make departments more sociable (and I'm not sure we do, for a variety of reasons), then reduce workloads, and give people opportunities to chat over whatever relaxing beverages they like. But it has to come with a workload reduction that means my friend with a two year old isn't worried about making the pickup from daycare on time, and so the TT colleague who's desperately working on an article can take a breath away. And the atmosphere has to be actually welcoming. (My department's social functions pretty much always feel like straight, married folks sit in pairs and talk about being straight married folks in the most gender-normed ways you can imagine. Maybe that feels welcoming to some straight married folks, but it doesn't to me.)
We also need to recognize that if the sociability fantasy is based on everyone "back in the day" having had a stay at home spouse, having been all white, all ivy-educated or whatever, then we need to rethink whether we want that sociability. If we've done anything right in the past 20 years (and the closed door thing has certainly been a problem for more than 10 years), then we've increased the diversity of our faculty in many ways: we have more people of color, more LGBTQ folks, more women with children, more folks from different social classes. Not everyone may want "tea" if it means pretending we're all upper crust British wannabe aristocrats.