that's master teaching, right there
if you google the phrase master teacher, you'll return notices such as the clipping at left, celebrating the eighth grade teaching excellence of gladys (a/k/a "mrs. ellwood") brown. in 21st century higher education, however, identification as a master teacher is not always cause for celebration.
a colleague of a friend of a friend-in-another-discipline forwarded me part of a letter she had received about a tenure case in another university. i've changed all the particulars to protect her identity and that of her institution, but the term "master teacher" and the 4/4 load are indeed quite real.*
Chris was up for promotion and tenure this year at Excema State. She was informed that her tenure case was going to be rejected and that, because her teaching was so highly valued, the University was willing to offer her a “Master Teacher” position (with 4 courses/term and a 1-year contract renewable up to 3 years) – but only if she agreed to withdraw her tenure case. She opted for the potential job security and accepted the offer.
yeesh. i can't vouch for the accuracy of the writer's portrayal of the facts, but the source is generally quite reliable. evidently this professor had been carrying a 2:2 load as a non-master teacher, but was just so darn good at it that they doubled her classroom time. it looks as though excema state came out pretty good on this deal -- twice the teaching and no long-term commitment. one can only hope that they didn't reward this master teacher with a major pay cut.
* seriously. "chris" is not a sociologist and excema state is not the university of minnesota.