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A Discussion Worth Having

18 Aug Posted by in Business | Comments Off on A Discussion Worth Having

It’s too soon now, with the economy still mired, but when things get better it’s really a vital discussion at least for the higher-aspiring public universities. And I was pleased to note, in a cordial and constructive meeting with state legislative and executive officials last week, that’s it’s a discussion that just might be possible — though we only broached the issue.

The focus is on a combined effort to assure some agreed-upon minimal adequacy for state funding, hopefully if not to repair at least to arrest the erosion that began with the economic crisis early this decade and was never fully reversed — this is on the state side — with university willingness to discuss concrete measures to improve faculty productivity. We’ve seen a fairly steady trend of lower teaching loads as a means to compete for or retain “good” faculty, and states have a reasonable stake in seeing this trajectory reversed. Hopefully, experiments to insist on some increase in students handled per faculty (and this is the real measure, not course load) can be just that at first, experiments vetted to make sure of compatibility with learning effectiveness — but there should be a willingness to try. Both parties in the discussion need some serious engagement, not just posturing or unilateral measures, in a constructive effort to deal with one key part of university funding and access issues in a responsible fashion.