Field of Science

Academic bureaucracy

One of the first things to get the Rauner-roundTM here in Lincolnland are its universities.  Our new GnOPe governor says he'd like to give universities more money, but first they have to "cut their bureaucratic waste".  Now TPP is not a big fan of the administration, but he does know a few things after so many years as an academic. And TPP knows a few things about his university after having been around so many years. The state has been slowly but surely cutting its support for higher education which means the cost is shifted to the student in the form of tuition and fees. Here in Lincolnland the state support has shifted from around 68% of the cost and now some 30 odd years later state support is around 16-18%. Yet if you figure in inflation, and the actual real cost of doing business, our university is spending less of its budget to run itself than ever before. In other words to minimize the burden on students, our university has gotten more efficient. Another thing that is known by this academic is that our salaries are below the median of our peers at comparable institutions. Sigh. One wonders how us over-paid faculty escaped our governor's criticism? The majority of the administration operates to do things for students many of which the state mandates the university to do, and a lot of unfunded mandates have come our way; the state still wants things, but doesn't want to pay for them. Now the university could probably do with a few less deanlets, but seriously where is all this bureaucratic waste our governor wants cut? Well, he doesn't know, but it's his business acumen  and GnOPe belief that higher education is wasteful. Do not hold your breath for him to show you data, nor will he look at yours especially if it doesn't support his beliefs. What all of this means is that higher education is going to get its budget cut in name of curtailing wasteful spending whether there is any or not. It didn't take long did it? That's how it is. You do a great job, you do it more efficiently, and then you get budget cuts because of your non-existent wastefulness. Could have been worse. The governor of another Midwestern state wanted to know why university faculty couldn't teach 5 courses a term like high school teachers?  No need to try and explain that our job is to teach students to learn for themselves, and that means doing history, art, and science, and to be a scholar, someone who can apprentice young scholars, takes time outside the classroom. But then again one of our missions is to "train people for the work force of Lincolnland".  Yes, train, not educate.  Sit, speak, roll-over, heel, beg, that's training. And our politicians of all flavors don't seem to appreciate the difference between education and training. This is a good time to be retired. 

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