Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fewer students so that more faculty can be hired

Apparently, the politicians feel it is better to have fewer students if the savings can guarantee more faculty and staff. And tack on a surcharge at UF, FSU and University of South Florida (Tampa-St. Pete) so that more faculty and staff can be hired.

"FSU will freeze enrollment to curb costs,"
June 16, 2007, Luis Zaragoza, Orlando Sentinel

Florida State University will freeze enrollment as part of a cost-cutting campaign it blames on years of state under-funding for enrollment growth, the loss of a tuition increase and uncertainty about revenue, officials said Friday...
The University of Central Florida and other state universities also are looking at spending cuts for the same reasons, but FSU is first to announce an enrollment freeze.

And here is a comment that is eloquent in its omission: "Other cuts at FSU include putting off repairs and maintenance, reviewing travel and reducing journal subscriptions." The omission → no mention is made of the suits cutting their own salary raises! Ditching journal subscriptions will not save much.

I wager that if the legislators could interview individual faculty members, departmental accountants and other low level staff members, without the deans and provosts around, the legislators would learn that a big part of the under-funding is a result of paying huge startup fees for sexy new research faculty instead of paying for the teaching infrastructure that is now suffering neglect. Ditto for new research "centers of excellence." Each is an example of robbing Peter to pay Paul, because the state wants to push and shove its institutions up into the club of famous top-tier research universities like Harvard and Cal Tech, a good goal and attainable if done carefully.

It was not done carefully.

You can see it was not done carefully because of the current jam they are in, not enough faculty to carry the teaching load.

The danger is that new savings and new fees, if they go through, will be diverted to more startup fees but not help with the teaching load or keeping the universities open to more students.