Scapegoating faculty for high tuition.

11 03 2012

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.



8 responses

11 03 2012
Pamela Hanford

Great post. I shared this with our CPFA discussion group.

11 03 2012
Susan Davis

Sharing this with our union membership and Facebook friends. Great post.

15 03 2012

Goes without saying that I shared too. Joe Berry included it on his COCAL Updates email list too. You seem to be picking up a following on adjunct / contingent faculty labor issues.

15 03 2012
Jonathan Rees


Read the post I did today on what I did last weekend (if you haven’t done so already). Then guess what my op-ed was about.

15 03 2012

Indeed I have. This one started it’s rounds with a local writing group. Will you be sharing the Op Ed?

15 03 2012
Jonathan Rees

I want to see if I can place it first. Keep your fingers crossed.

23 03 2012
Fractured fairy tales for furious faculty. « More or Less Bunk

[…] I cited that e-mail before, I was appalled by its aim to displace attention from administrative salary hikes to small faculty […]

6 04 2012

fingers crossed… do make an ostentatious announcement when it places

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