Monday, March 26, 2012

Former Chancellor Levy Says Profs Should Work More

OK, I am steamed. It is bad enough when someone is misrepresenting facts, but when they add hypocrisy on top of it, this is really annoying. This is the case with the latest push for bashing faculty, in this case calling for increased teaching loads without any salary increases, all supposedly to reign in rising tuition costs. I fully agree that rising tuition costs are a serious problem in US colleges and universities, but the problem has much more to do with rising spending on administrators and staff than faculty, and this latest blast from David C. Levy, former Chancellor of "New School University" (back to being the New School of Social Research now) in the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post, "Do Professors Work Enough?" is the worst, with its focus on faculty and no mention whatsoever of his fellow administrators and other spongers.

So, he provides no evidence of falling faculty workloads (and none exists because they have not), but wants people teaching four course loads to go to five course loads in teaching oriented schools and to teach during the summers as well, apparently on a mandatory basis, whether or not students want to attend during summers. In short, he wants to turn our colleges into high schools. A sentence that shows how weirdly fixated he is follows: "Since faculty salaries make up the largest single cost in virtually all college and university budgets (39 percent at Montgomery College), think what it would mean if the public got full value for these dollars." Yeah, wow, just think of it. Here I thought he was going to trot out something like 70%, and instead we get 39%. So, what is the other 61% being used for? Obviously administrators, staff, books, and maybe sports (at my uni the highest paid individuals are the basketball coach and football coach, even though the athletic program is not a net money earner, which is true for all but about 20 schools in the US). As it is, one could fire a quarter of the faculty at Montgomery, increase the teaching load of the rest by a third, and manage to reduce tuition by, wait for it, 8%! Wow.

So, let us get at what is the real problem, completely ignored by this former high level university administrator. According to the New York Times of 12/5/11, during the decade 1999/2000-2009/2010, salaries for presidents at the 50 wealthiest universities rose 75%, while professorial salaries rose 14%, .

Nor is this just a matter of the salaries going up for people like Levy way more than for faculty, it is that the numbers of these parasites has also risen dramatically relative to faculty across the board (so that the 39% figure is not all that surprising, although we tend to think that faculty are doing most of the educating at colleges and universities, not the administrators and staff). So, between 1975 and 2005, while total spending on higher ed roughly tripled in constant dollar terms, student-faculty ratios remained about constant at 15-16, administrator-student ratios went from 84 to 68 and staff-student ratios went from 50 to 21. From 1998 to 2008, while faculty spending rose 22%, admin and staff spending rose 36%. From 1965 to 2005, while the number of faculty rose from 446,830 to 675,000, the numbers of administrators and staff rose from 268,952 to 756,405, .

Really, I do not know if this guy Levy, now supposedly president of something called "the education group at Cambridge information group," is as seriously ignorant of these facts as he appears to be, or if he is just supremely hypocritical in ignoring the explosion of spending for his type of person in the higher education firmament. But, the push going on for putting faculty in their place by people like this is simply despicable. I must grant that Levy disavows such advocacy by "the political right [who] have been associated with anti-labor and anti-intellectual values," but this looks pretty empty given that earlier in his piece he singles out the "advent of collective bargaining in higher education" in the early 1970s as a main soure of the supposedly rising salaries of the supposedly wickedly lazy faculty he condemns.

I shall conclude with one more source on the bottom line statistics here, which puts to shame his jibe about collective bargaining. These come from the National Center for Education Statistics as reported by Mark Perry at . So, between 1978 and 2007, while tuitions rose 7.9% per year, faculty salaries rose just barely faster than inflation, 4.5% per year against the CPI at 4.1% per year. Somehow Levy never bothered to notice or cite such numbers in his ridiculous screed. I sincerely hope we do not see too much more of this sort of drivel from this sort of person.


Post a Comment