Ranty Rant Alert.
So wrong, I hardly know where to begin.
In case you don’t want to follow the link, I’ll just give you all a quote from an article that appears in today’s Huffington Post by Amanda Fairbanks on the recent debacle that occurred when Texas A&M administrators made the mistake of thinking it would be a good idea to treat higher education… scholarship essentially… as a business and calculate the worth of their faculty based only on what they bring in by teaching.From HuffPo:
The study calculated an individual professor’s “revenue” based on the tuition he or she brought to the school — a product of the number of students taught — and the amount of research awards and grants he or she obtained, among other factors. The greater the number of classes and students taught, the greater the revenue. If a professor’s annual salary was lower than the amount of revenue generated, it was black. Otherwise, it was red.
The Huffington Post is equally misguided for putting out an article where they explain that the numbers in the report were inaccurate in many cases- then never-the-less using those ‘inaccurate’ numbers to make a conclusion:
Of the 50 highest compensated faculty members, only five appeared to be in the black and earning their keep. The rest were crimson.
The data revealed, for example, that while one faculty member at Texas A&M earned more than $500,000 each year, the average counterpart at its College Station campus made around $120,000.
WTF!!! This is what happens when people make ill fated decisions to undertake a given process, screw it up completely, and then have to release the results to the media by an open records request. What they have put together ends up being put in the paper by a reporter that puts out a sensational conclusion on numbers they admit are flawed- based only on a conclusion they have ALREADY decided upon. This drivel gets seen by a national audience, without respect to the (sometimes massive) mistakes made during the process… and viewed by an audience that doesn’t have an understanding of how the modern research university system in this country works. It seems the highest paid people at A&M are …you guessed it.. the athletic directors….
So- here is a shame on you all around.
SHAME ON YOU Texas A&M administrators for undertaking this nonsense analysis- which, BTW, you seem to have done completely wrong AND are now undertaking a second time. First- higher education and scholarship shouldn’t be run as businesses. Faculty in the English department, Philosophy department and Biology departments are equally important in the mission of educating leaders of tomorrow… regardless of how much ‘revenue’ they bring in in tuition. I’m asking myself where this is all going- what is the point? Is the point to cut faculty or departments you see as financially under performing with your flawed numbers? The absurdity of cutting salaries or eliminating, for example, an English department for being financially in the red, is just that, an absurdity. The currency of higher education should be in the quality of the students we put out into the world, and not on the number of students we are turning out per person. After all, what has a university accomplished when it puts out 10,000 mediocre students every year? For the love of God- get on board with your faculty and educate the citizens and businesses of your state on the value and importance a solid undergraduate, graduate and professional education.
Second- putting that report out in 1/2 baked form is a disaster. NUMBERS.ALL.WRONG. I can’t imagine how A&M faculty can have faith in an administration that can’t get the most basic information, like the base salaries of your own faculty correct. Let me be the first to inform you that correct salaries for faculty (indeed for everyone) can be found in the university’s operating budget for state institutions- and this is freely available to you in any campus library. Next time you undertake such an analysis (I’ve just learned that you already have) remember that people will take your 1/2 baked report- not recognize its flaws and it will end up in the national media. You’ll end up contributing to the impression that university faculty are living high on the hog and doing nothing for it. This, pretty much as a rule, IS JUST WRONG.
AND, SHAME ON YOU Huffington Post for a case of terrible reporting. I’m not sure what I expected from you- but you seem to have taken the numbers in the survey itself, that you admit are flawed, and just run with them. The salaries of every member of Texas A&M are publicly available (just follow my link above), you should double check anything you get from a university administrator, or any source for that matter, before you broadcast a mistake it worldwide. And you should find out whether a reported salary is a base (state $$) salary or whether it is supplemented with federal grant dollars that the faculty member themselves brought into the university. Learn something about indirect cost returns… and then REFIGURE the bottom line. If you did that for just a few faculty members you’d appreciate the bad mistakes in this report and you would (hopefully) think twice about basing any conclusions on them.
Or, I suppose, you could have made an open records request for that second super sekrit report the A&M Administration supposedly just presented to its Board of Regents…
UUUUUgh. Demoralizing for faculty everywhere.
PS. Did you know that the salaries of TAMU System administrators are also publicly available? Here is your big chance John Q. Public to find out what they did to earn these gigantic salaries…
PPS. Sorry for the confusion yesterday… I pushed publish before complete rumination of the article….