Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Scott Walker to UW faculty: Work more than 14 hours a week

By Pedro Gonzales

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker reportedly wants to "cut" $300 million from the University of Wisconsin budget over the next two years.  I am always skeptical of the use of the term "cut" – from the article and other sources, I cannot genuinely tell if it is a budget-to-budget cut or simply a reduction in the rate of increase.  Also, in no news story is it reported what the actual budget of UW is, so readers will have no idea what kind of impact it will have on the system.  But I did some digging and can tell you that the prior two-year budget for UW was $6 billion, so this $300 million may be a 5% most.
In any what?
"In the future, by not having the limitation of things like shared governance, they might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class a semester," Walker told reporters at the Madison hotel.      
Word of Walker's remarks about faculty teaching loads needing to be heavier prompted UW-Madison to release a faculty workload survey from February 2014. The survey yielded 191 full responses from biological sciences, humanities, physical science and social studies departments, according to UW-Madison.
Of those who responded, 96% said they teach, supervise and mentor undergraduate students and spend an average of 14.2 hours per week instructing undergraduates and an average 4.2 hours per week advising and mentoring.
All reported research activities as part of their work, with an average of 8.4 hours per week spent on research/creative work with students. The total time spent with research, scholarship or creative work was an average 21.3 hours per week.
Let's look closely at these numbers, because they're important.  Professors self-reported teaching 14 hours a week and spending 4 hours "advising and mentoring."  I don't know where you went to college (or if you did), but where I went, a large East Coast university, most professors didn't spend any time advising or mentoring, and they sure didn't teach 14 hours a week.  Furthermore, I doubt the veracity of self-reported "teaching hours."  If it's unverified, they have every incentive to report having taught more than they did.  Some classes aren't even taught by professors, but rather by teaching assistants.

But let's pretend they really do teach 14 hours a week.  They claim to do 8 hours of "research" a week, but again, who cares?  Remember, this is a public university.  Should the taxpayer really be paying to subsidize academic research?  Does the average citizen in Oshkosh benefit materially from a new treatise on the wonders of socialism or a research paper on what The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn says about transgenderism?  I think that at a public university, taxpayers should only be expected to pay for teaching.  Why can't they teach 20 hours a week?  Or better yet,  why can't they teach 40 hours a week?  Many don't even do their own grading because they have teaching assistants.

Let's take a look at the results of the UW system.  Only a little more than 50% of students managed to graduate in 4 years.  Another 30% graduated after spending 6 years to complete a 4-year program.  Why should the taxpayer pay for such poor results, or pay to have students take 6 years to do a 4-year program?

Teachers should be working full-time to teach students.  The student body should be downsized to eliminate students who can't handle the work.  With these commonsense measures, $300 million could easily be cut from the UW budget.


No comments: