Since I have a 2-and-a-half hour layover in the lovely Denver airport, I thought I’d quickly link two stories on my Google Reader feed that make sense together. First, via Eric Rauchway, here’s the Cornell Management Professor Robert Frank explaining why faculty salaries are the reason college costs so much:
College instruction more closely resembles a musical performance than an auto assembly line. Although information technologies have yielded some productivity growth in academia, instruction still takes place largely as it always has.
To recruit professors, universities must pay salaries roughly in line with those made possible by productivity growth in other sectors. So while rising salaries needn’t lead to higher prices in many industries, they do in academia and many other service industries.
As I wrote at Eric’s place, “The fact that 75% of faculty in American higher education are now poorly-paid adjuncts is all the proof I need to conclude that Robert Frank hasn’t got the faintest idea what he’s talking about.”
Also on my Google Reader feed is a rather disturbing higher ed story at Colorado Pols coming out of a university in the same metro area as this lovely airport.
Apparently, CU-Boulder President Bruce Benson caused a stir by raising administrator’s salaries by obscene amounts in this economy while at the same time raising tuition. What did he do to fix this PR nightmare? Blame faculty. Pols has the e-mail he sent all over campus:
Reality: We are in a market economy and are a people-intensive enterprise. Some three quarters of our expenditures are for people. Delivering a quality education at CU means investing in people. Additionally, our business has increased substantially during the recession, with an 11.5 percent increase in enrollment the past decade and record enrollment on our campuses. Degrees awarded over the same period increased 34 percent.
Top administrative raises accounted for a small percentage of the total salary pool. The vast majority went to faculty, who are critical to the quality of a CU education. More than 85 percent of those who received merit raises received less than $4,000.
Playing the workers against the customers. Just lovely. Apparently, Walmart management tactics have finally hit higher ed. hard. The only way to fight that is to do what Walter Reuther tried to do to General Motors in 1945 and demand that they open the books.
Every last one of them.