Well, now that the punditry sees dollars for consulting on the sorry state of higher education–because it has to be in a sorry state, otherwise we wouldn’t need consultants and charter companies chomping at the bit to reform it–we have Stanley Pearlstein business-splaining how it all oughta be done.
1. Cap administrative costs. (Because you know, that’s how businesses are doing it.) Sure, yeah, whatever. I don’t have a problem with this, but dude, you’re like the 1,000,000th person to suggest this. Maybe wanna use that fabulous research tool known as the “Google” to cite some proposals or experiments with it?
This is business journalism? How do I get this job? Because this job? It seems way easier than my job.
2. Operate Year Around, Five Days a Week. OMG that’s like totally sticking it to them lazy proffies, aren’t you! And it’s all cause they are just sitting around, doing nothing on those days, costing a ton and not producing anything. And then there are the empty buildings! Gasp!
Had business journalist of the year actually visited a campus on Friday or during the summer, he’d find it buzzing with activities. Fridays? Executive and continuing education programs that have dollars floating right in the door. Those cost money to produce. You may have this vision of forcing faculty teach 60 class a day, but the real question for any service is: does the revenue cover the marginal cost?
In summer, campuses have lots and lots of little camps for K-12 , and their dorms and classrooms have stuff going on. All that? It’s revenue. And costs. And the question is, as always: is p>mc?
You’d think a business guy would understand this.
Oh, btw, it’s not just Fridays and summers. It’s Saturdays and Sundays, too. No, there aren’t as many students on campus, but there are quite a few.
It’s like universities already know where their money comes from, or something.
3. Make them lazy proffies teach more and do less research.
I’m not talking about research supported by grants. I’m referring to the research by tenure-track faculty members that is made possible because they teach only two courses per semester, rather than the three or more that was once the norm.
Then he goes on to list some statistics about teaching hours have declined 30 percent! Lazy proffies! Doing their lazy dumb research!
Only the statistics he lists do not back up his claim that *most* college faculty taught 3 or more classes a week as a “norm.” The 2/2 course load at research universities has been standard at most research universities since the early part of the university system.
What HAS changed are the number of faculty on campus who teach little or nothing because they have been hired solely for research positions in centers or because they are hired into chair positions with sweetheart deals because they are prima donnas OR because they have to be bribed into administrative roles and universities can’t offer monetary compensation. Putting those all in the same pot and averaging is going to make it look like the college teaching job of 2/2 is a recent decline of higher workloads. It’s not.
I teach 2/2 year in and year out, and I have won three teaching awards over the course of 7 years. I’m here to tell you: adding another course to my 2/2 would not improve the student experience in any of them. And I don’t want to hear from somebody who pipes up and says they teach 3/3. Fine, ya got me if you are teaching 3/3 of 50+ students in each class, or more. But if you are teaching 3/3 of 10 student seminar classes, I’m not buying. I teach heavy course load, undesirable classes, damn well if my scores are any indicator.
Now, actually compensating me for my classroom performance would be both a) nice and b) a radical change. Because the time I spend making my classes tough and worth taking? That comes out of my skin. I get exactly nothing from the university for performance here. And it boggles my mind but hey, administrators control this process, not students, and administrators like metrics.
Oh, journalist of the year grants:
A better approach would be to offer comparable pay and status to professors who spend most of their time teaching, reserving reduced teaching loads for professors whose research continues to have significance and impact. Some departments at some schools have embraced “differentiated teaching loads,” but most tenured faculty members resist and resent the idea that they need to continually defend the value of their research. And administrators are wary of doing anything that might diminish their universities’ research reputation.
Some departments have done this, it’s totally magotally true that most haven’t because if they had, then I wouldn’t be able to try to claim it was my fabulous insight…instead of the standard practice at most universities, where tenured faculty have little to no influence over governance and haven’t in the decade that I have been in higher education.
Move on, nothing to see here.