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Reforming Higher Education

Posted by Alvin Burstein
On August 31st, 2009 at 19:08

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As the Conference letter to the Louisiana Postsecondary Education Review Commission (you can see it elsewhere on the website) points out, spiraling higher ed costs make change unavoidable.  In our cultural climate, the usual response to financial exigency is “stronger managment.”  The problem is that response almost always translates into further weakening of shared governance.  The problem with that is that the faculty, those who actually do scholarly work, are the only ones who know quality in that area.  The managers focus on headcounts of various kinds, like completion rates, ignoring what is in or has been added to the heads they feverishly count.

What is needed are faculty views about how administrative bloat and mission creep can be avoided. About how the mix of public, private not-for-profi and for profit educational institutions can avoid unproductive duplication, or worse, the degradation of education in accordance with Gresham’s law…the triumph of “bad money” over good money.  WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU.

2 Responses to “Reforming Higher Education”

  1. zodhomb Says:

    We need to enlighten the public about administrative bloat.

    We need to gather information about the cost/benefit ratio of administration versus the faculty and the staff supporting faculty tasks.

    Only then can we as faculty move away from a defensive position and move the discussion to where it needs to go.

    I realize that information gathering and analysis takes money — can some of the membership dues be used for this task?

  2. aburstein Says:

    Dominique, An interesting point. Cost figures are pretty straighforward. Salary figures. Do you have some thoughts about a metric for administrative “benefit?” Faculty “benefit” can be measured in terms of credit hour production, I suppose, but that strikes me as a pretty crude measure. I would say the same about grants applied for or obtained, etc. All in all, I think the most compelling point might be documenting the increase in total faculty costs vs. administrative costs as a function of headcount. What do you think? AGB

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