[Frank] Ashley, the vice chancellor for academic affairs for the A&M System, has been put in charge of creating such a measure that he says would help administrators and the public better understand who, from a financial standpoint, is pulling their weight.
A several-inches thick document in the possession of A&M System officials contains three key pieces of information for every single faculty member in the 11-university system: their salary, how much external research funding they received and how much money they generated from teaching.
The information will allow officials to add the funds generated by a faculty member for teaching and research and subtract that sum from the faculty member’s salary. When the document — essentially a profit-loss statement for faculty members — is complete, officials hope it will become an effective, lasting tool to help with informed decision-making.
Debates about education policy, like every other political topic in modern America, have a remarkable ability to keep going long past the point where you would think they had to stop. Just when you think you’ve seen the most idiotic proposal possible, somebody will put forth something even dumber. Usually, somebody from Texas.
This is going to be a tough one to top, though.
Which is not to say that I don’t expect to find people speaking in favor of this idea, even in comments here. This is a notion that will appeal to the Teenage Objectivist faction that is depressingly common in science and engineering circles– after all, the sciences and engineering are vastly more likely to bring in grant money, and thus end up on the positive side of the balance sheet. Humanities faculty have many fewer chances to bring in grants, which means that unless they teach lots of huge sections, they’re likely to end up negative, but then a good Randroid disdains modern humanities scholarship, anyway.
This is really impressively cynical, though, as it makes no pretense at measuring quality, just quantity. It doesn’t matter how well you teach students in this system, just how many of them you teach. So load up on the big intro sections, turn everything over to the TA’s, and spend all your time writing research grants. You don’t even need to publish in this system– just bring money in, and you’re gold. Which, as it happens, is the only thing Frank Ashley seems to care about.