NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A&M System Grades Faculty -- By Bottom Line

September 8, 2010

Frank Ashley, vice chancellor for academic affairs for the Texas A&M university system, has been put in charge of creating a measure that he says will help administrators and the public better understand who, from a financial standpoint, is pulling their weight.

  • Three key pieces of information for every faculty member in the 11-university system -- their salary, how much external research funding they received and how much money they generated from teaching -- 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.
  • Texas A&M geography professor Peter Hugill calls the measure simplistic and crude.

Ashley acknowledges that the teaching measurement does not take into account time spent grading papers, helping with research projects, class preparation, advising or any other activity besides formal teaching in front of a classroom.

"All of that, to me, is teaching," Ashley says. "But here's the bottom line:  When you tell the public you teach 12 hours, they think you're only working 12 hours a week.  If you're on campus, you know you're working much more than 12 hours a week."

  • The teaching measurement is based on weighted semester credit hours, units that the state provides funding for based on students' majors and levels.
  • For instance, the university receives significantly more money from the state for teaching a doctoral science student than a liberal arts undergraduate student.
  • Also, research dollars generated are counted.

Source:  Vimal Patel, "A&M System grades faculty -- by bottom line," Bryan-College Station Eagle, September 1, 2010.


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