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Monday, May 18, 2009

It doesn't add up

Saturday morning in the Blade I read the following article:

Article published May 16, 2009
University of Toledo holds tuition cost
Budget projects increase in some student fees


The University of Toledo's proposed budget suggests no undergraduate tuition increase for the third consecutive year, but some student fees will be higher.

The $781.6 million budget - $517.8 academic and $263.8 million clinical - was discussed Friday by the UT board of trustees' finance committee, which recommended the budget to the full board that meets Monday.

But changes in the state budget still could affect UT.

The university's budget must be approved before July 1.

"If the Senate changes the budget substantially, we will need to regroup almost to square one," said Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, UT's president.

Trustee John Szuch, finance committee chairman, said Gov. Ted Strickland places education as a high priority and board members hope he will continue to do so.

"You've got so many dollars you have to operate, and somehow you have to get your costs under that amount. That's what everybody is trying to do," he said.

The proposed budget does not increase undergraduate tuition and general fees, but graduate students will see their education price-tag increase from between 2.5 percent and 7 percent a semester, depending on the specialization. An in-state law student, for example, would see tuition and fees go up 6.47 percent a se-mester.

Residence halls fees are slated to increase 10 percent or 12 percent, depending on the hall. Students would pay 12 percent more to stay at The Crossings, an increase of $384, and 10 percent more for Parks Tower, $289.

Several meal plans are slated to increase $5, $15, or $45 a semester.

Semester parking will rise from $95 to $100 (a 5 percent increase) and ID fees will double from $10 to $20.

Lab fees are to increase to cover material and operational cost increases.

Scott Scarborough, UT's senior vice president for finance and administration, said many factors contributed to a difficult budget process, including uncertain state funding, an undergraduate tuition freeze, new collective bargaining agreements, the recession, and internal financial changes.

While the university's projected revenues for fiscal year 2010 increased nearly $40 million over last year with assumptions of increased enrollment, state aid, and patients at the medical center, expenses also outpaced previous expenses, Mr. Scarborough said.

In April, UT was $16 million in the red with about $6 million of that the costs of collective bargaining agreements, he said.

That's when the university announced it would lay off 90 employees as well as eliminate 200 vacant positions to curb that shortfall.

No faculty members were affected by those layoffs, but full-time faculty will be expected to teach more students because there is less money for part-time and visiting faculty members, Mr. Scarborough said.

- Meghan Gilbert

But Saturday night on TV I heard an advert for UT--one I'd heard earlier in the week but hadn't realized what it was about to pay enough attention in time--promoting UT as offering internships, small classes, and personal attention. Hmmmmmmmmmm ... If full-time faculty are going to "... be expected to teach more students because there is less money for part-time and visiting faculty members," won't that have a negative effect on class size and individual attention? I suppose the adverts are carefully worded so as to avoid accusations of fraud; after all, it's not promising or guaranteeing small classes or personal attention, and I suppose if a handful of students find these small classes and receive this personal attention, UT has fulfilled its part of the deal. It's not the advert's fault, is it, if people see the ad, believe it, and think it applies to the university in general and are disappointed when they're faced with the reality of overfilled classes and overworked instructors who want to give students what they need--good teaching has always been truly student-centered, not the lip-service, slogan-friendly variety being touted now--but don't have the time or energy left over to do so.

It just doesn't add up. Bigger classes? More classes? I'm no Scott Scarborough, I'm no math or eonomics whiz (far from it!), I know I don't know anything close to what's involved financially in running a university. But as a teacher I know that if you increase the number of students in my classes, if you increase the number of classes I'm expected to teach, if you increase my other teaching and non-teaching obligations, you are stealing from your own sudents, cheating them out of important aspects of their education you dangle before them--and their parents--in your attempt to get them to choose UT over other area colleges or universities; in your attempt to save money by not hiring neceesary faculty (do I really need to add anything about bonuses or re-hiring retirees?), you cheapen the education UT offers. While faculty and staff are collateral damage, the real victims are the students.


Anonymous said...

What are the "internal financial changes" referred to by Scott Scarborough as one of the causes of the budget "crisis"? If things are so bad, if we have to do more with less, i.e. faculty need to teach more, why are high-level administrators not obliged to do more with less? WHy do we need so many vice presidents? Can UT not eliminate a few of those positions and pass some extra work on to the remaining vps with no salary increase? As for the idea that anyone (non-faculty) earning 40k or more not getting salary increases, as reported in the Collegian,I would ask: will we see more of the strategy used for Larry Burns this year? His previous position (salary around 170k I think) wasn't sufficient or close enough to his "fair-market value." Instead a 200k position (possibly more, but at least 200k) was created for him, so I guess, technically, he did not get a raise. Then they probably counted the elimination of his previous position as one of the 300 cut in the recent rounds of layoffs, even though he is still here. No, it doesn't add up at all. Fun with numbers!

Anonymous said...

Ok, at the beginning of the semester you guys were mad because the provost was enforcing a rule on minimum enrollments. So what if there are only 5-6 to a class, was your argument, these students need the classes. So clearly there are many, very small classes already.

But now you're arguing the opposite side at the same time. The dirty secret is that even though you think you're overworked as full time faculty, compared to people with normal 40-hour jobs, you're not. Sorry. Yes, you will have to do more work than you have in the past. I think you'll find very little sympathy for your argument that you shouldn't have to outside of this echo chamber.

Your true complaint is, "how can we have small class sizes while I still only have to teach two classes a semester?" You are correct, that no longer adds up. From now on, to make it add up, you will have to teach as many as three, or even four. Your "leisure model" of higher education is over.

backpocket542 said...

Wow anonymous, I'm sure teaching three classes that have 75-100 students two to four times a week will be no sweat! Planning out classes, meeting with students during office hours and non office hours, research, meeting with other faculty and staff, and making sure everything is graded and getting the grades back to students on time is no big deal! They will all make it home on time to be with their families and not have to worry about their work at home!

I am so tired of people undervaluing anyone who teaches. You should be grateful to people who are teaching you something you probably know nothing about. If we had no teachers we would probably still be using flint to start a fire.

All the UT Administration cares about is getting you in and out and squeezing out every dollar you have. I love my small classes, which are a rarity these days. We do need more faculty because all the courses I want to take are not offered at this time and have not been for the past two years I have been here. But yet again I am just a walking dollar sign on UT's campus. And truthfully, if it was not for the faculty and staff at UT I would be at my first choice school!

I love my teachers who are not so tired of teaching a third class, that they try to present the material so that their students will enjoy it.

Oh and Lloyd, I loved seeing the roto rooter guy at your house today. What happened, did all the money you wipe your ass with get stuck on the way down the toilet?

Anonymous said...

No, it is not clear that there are already many very small classes already. Yes, there are some, but not many. On the contrary, there are lots of large classes with hundreds of students.

Now, let me point out, that whether there are 5 students in the class or 100, I still have to prepare that class; I still have to prepare the assignments to evaluate and assess learning. Obviously, I may have more or less correcting to do, depending on class size. The class with 5 students may generate regular writing assignments which will require a lot of time on my part if I respond thoroughly to both content and written expression. The class with a 100 students may have a grader, or use scantron sheets for exams. But in the final analysis, both types of classes require preparation. I have yet to teach the same course twice in exactly the same way.

No,faculty do not have normal 40-hour jobs. Instead, we have 50-60-hour jobs.

Administrators often overlook the fact that faculty regularly do many things in addition to assigned courses:
we direct honors' theses, masters' theses and phd dissertations;
we offer independent studies;
we observe office hours and keep appointments with students for help outside of class;
we advise;
we participate in shared governance which includes a substantial time committment;
we do peer review and evaluation;
we do outside reviews and evaluations for faculty at other institutions;
we do research.

Finally, if we are truly a student-centered university, should not the class with 5-6 students be considered as valuable as the class with a 100? If faculty are to be research active, we must have the time and the resources to conduct that research whether it takes place in a lab or whether it takes place in a library.

Anonymous said...

LJ's ideal professor.