Phi Beta Cons

Faculty Productivity

In today’s Pope Center piece, Duke Cheston writes about his findings regarding the UNC political-science department. Not surprisingly, it turns out that some professors get paid a lot to teach very few students, while others are paid relatively little and teach a large number of students.

By itself, that doesn’t necessarily indicate inefficiency. I suspect you might find something similar if you looked at doctors in a medical clinic and the number of patients they see. Some highly paid specialists might see few patients. What does seem to indicate inefficiency, however, is the general downward trend in teaching requirements over time. Is it the case that faculty research has become more important compared to teaching over the last few decades, thus warranting this change, or is it that the tenured faculty has engaged in some successful “rent seeking” to reduce the amount of teaching time they have to put in?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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