Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Institution Adrift

Professor Luepker said that the state sees the University primarily as delivering undergraduate education.

Professor Roe just made the point that departments search for new faculty in specific academic areas of inquiry, not for the best undergraduate teacher. So there is a tension between what faculty are hired to do--teach graduate students and develop a research theme, all of which lose money--and what the University must do--provide undergraduate classes that are well taught.

Perhaps the University should become more like Rockefeller University, which does not take undergraduates. Community colleges may teach undergraduates better than the University and the faculty there are doing so full time in a socially valuable career; the University is trying to run an undergraduate program while it is trying to create new knowledge and train graduate students.
Historically, community colleges were built for that reason, Professor Weerts said, and research universities turned over their undergraduates to them. But then they brought them back for financial reasons. Is it possible to create a revenue model of a sustainable research enterprise independent of undergraduate tuition?  Possibly, but it would take a lot of creativity. 
Professor Luepker observed that the legislature may be prepared to hold undergraduate tuition flat by giving the University more money to offset increased tuition revenues--but the University will let graduate tuition increase because fewer people are concerned about this in St. Paul. 
See p. 4 of the February 19, 2013 report of the Senate Committee on Finance & Planning (emphasis added). 
They [Office of Human Resources] have completed 3 of the 17 job families so far and intend to increase the pace so that they can complete them all within the next two years. (Some of the job families are larger and some are smaller.) At present the University has 665 job classifications; they hope to reduce the number by about half. The new classifications will be used to describe what employees are doing and will permit analysis of the number of employees in a category and whether it is appropriate. . . . 
The goal is for everyone to have a job classification that reflects what they do, Vice President Brown said. Right now there are some catch-all categories, such as "coordinator," where if you've met one coordinator, you've met one coordinator. They want to create a job classification system that helps understand what people are doing, how the University is spending money and how to manage the workforce. The effort is not about cutting people, it is about labeling them so the institution knows what they are doing. 
See p. 4 of the February 26, 2013 report of the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs (emphasis added).

el W. McNabb

University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974
University of Minnesota Alumni Association life member

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