Phi Beta Cons

Faculty Loads and SUNY Tuition Hikes

Richard Vedder has a new study showing that spiraling tuition at the University of Texas at Austin can be reduced by half if 80 percent of the faculty with the lightest teaching loads were to teach about half as much as the 20 percent of faculty with the heaviest loads. The top 20 percent now do 57 percent of all teaching.

To judge by press reports, such a solution to out-of-control college costs did not figure in New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent decision to press for increasing tuition by 25 percent over five years at most State University of New York campuses and 40 percent over the same period at its university centers.

No cause for wonderment here, since faculty unions wield great and undue political power in the state and are not likely to welcome a bouleversement of the peachy teaching status quo.

Vedder also remarked that colleges are not keen on allowing public scrutiny of the work loads of those who absorb the most of the university budgets.

This jibes with my experience while serving as a SUNY trustee, during which time my repeated efforts to obtain information on faculty work loads, and to increase them where reasonable, were systematically thwarted.

Until political leaders and university governing boards demand greater transparency on faculty productivity and performance, and greater productivity from those not pulling their weight, the needs of students will continue to be subordinated to often unfair, self-designated faculty privileges.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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