Category Archives: Education

In op-ed, A_M Professor Makes Case for Drastic Restructuring of Texas Higher Ed System

This is a follow up to the “Lemons” article yesterday.

By Mary Lee Grant

In an op-ed published in the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Texas A_M University associate professor of history Jonathan Coopersmith argues for a radical restructuring of higher education in Texas to address bureaucratic overlap. Continue reading

Bill Allowing Private Schools to Join UIL Misses Key Midnight Deadline

Erich Schlegel/Special Contributor
Dallas Jesuit players celebrate with the UIL Class 5A boys soccer championship trophy after the Rangers defeated Houston Strake Jesuit in a shootout in Georgetown on April 10, 2010. Both private schools are allowed to play in the UIL.
Private schools might have to wait a bit longer before they get another shot to join the University Interscholastic League.

Senate Bill 1214, which would allow private schools to join the UIL with two major exceptions — football and basketball, missed an important midnight deadline to be considered by the House. By missing the deadline the bill is likely dead unless the bill’s author, Sen. Dan Patrick, can find another piece of legislation to attach to it.

The Senate passed the bill, 22-7, on May 6.

Two large Catholic schools (Jesuit and Houston Strake Jesuit) already play football and basketball in the UIL and the bill would allow them to keep playing. Continue reading

Top Colleges, Largely for the Elite


Anthony Marx - Times of Texas

The last four presidents of the United States each attended a highly selective college. All nine Supreme Court justices did, too, as did the chief executives of General Electric (Dartmouth), Goldman Sachs (Harvard), Wal-Mart (Georgia Tech), Exxon Mobil (Texas) and Google (Michigan).

Anthony Marx presided over his final graduation at Amherst College on Sunday. He led big gains in diversity at Amherst.

Like it or not, these colleges have outsize influence on American society. So their admissions policies don’t matter just to high school seniors; they’re a matter of national interest.

More than seven years ago, a 44-year-old political scientist named Anthony Marx became the president of Amherst College, in western Massachusetts, and set out to change its admissions policies. Mr. Marx argued that elite colleges were neither as good nor as meritocratic as they could be, because they mostly overlooked lower-income students. Continue reading

Lawmakers Eye Incentives for Academic Funding

By Chace Murphy

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Texas lawmakers are advancing legislation to base some college and university funding on student performance.

The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to free the Higher Education Coordinating Board to create funding formulas for institutions based on student achievement. The bill now returns to the House for a vote. Continue reading

The Higher Ed Wars – Fierce Resistance to Meaningful Change

By Richard Vedder

(Last Friday,) I was minding my own business, on spring break recovering from the bruising labors of academic life, living the life of the modern-type tenured intellectual lumpenproletariat, sitting on a cruise ship and debating whether to order lobster or the Tournedos Rossini for dinner.

Unbeknownst to me, I became slightly embroiled that day in the current Wisconsin academic/political controversies, courtesy of Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate in economics who has apparently decided to spend his declining years writing polemical screeds as a columnist at The New York Times.

Writing last Friday for the Times, Krugman lamented the efforts of a Republican party operative to get a hold of the e-mail records of U. of Wisconsin professor William Cronon. Cronon has been highly critical of the Wisconsin governor’s initiatives, including restricting public employee collective bargaining. Krugman gratuitously added that “we can be sure that people like, say, Richard Vedder of Ohio University wouldn’t be subject to equivalent scrutiny.”

I laughed reading this, because Krugman shows here a lack of perception that almost equals that shown in his views on the economy. Remarkably, like Cronon, I have been forced, by a  public records request, to make available vast numbers of e-mails to a critic. A former student who became a minor Ohio political operative—and a Republican one at that—with whom I publicly disagreed once accused me of being “a slobbering, drunk old fool.” When a newspaper reporter asked me to comment, I replied, “I don’t slobber.” The critic got mad and tried to intimidate me by demanding my e-mail records. Continue reading

Runaway tuition: A challenge for students, parents and schools



University of Iowa
1981-82 cost: $1,834
Inflation adjusted: $4,538
2011-12 cost: $8,750
Additional cost beyond inflation: $4,212

Iowa State University
1981-82 cost: $1,640
Inflation adjusted: $4,058
2011-12 cost: $7,622
Additional cost beyond inflation: $3,564

University of Northern Iowa
1981-82 cost: $1,520
Inflation adjusted: $3,761
2011-12 cost: $7,426
Additional cost beyond inflation: $3,665

If other things jumped in cost that much …

1981 cost: $1.48
Inflation-adjusted: $3.66
2011 actual cost: $2.49

1981 cost: $0.84
Inflation-adjusted: $2.08
2011 actual cost: $1.49

1981 cost: $2.24
Inflation-adjusted: $5.54
2011 actual cost: $3.19

Iowa’s two largest universities expect to pocket millions of dollars in extra tuition revenue next fiscal year, with the vast majority going to pay for additional faculty, programs aimed at lowering dropout rates and other student services, officials said.

That decision comes as the cost of earning a four-year degree in Iowa at a public university continues a steep march upward and pushes students to take on more debt, which, at $26,066 per graduating student, is the fourth-highest average in the country.

In the past 30 years, the average cost of tuition and fees at an Iowa public university has jumped 707 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation. College costs have increased each of the past 30 years for students and their families. Continue reading

For-Profit Art Schools on the Rise

Art, we are told again and again, is a business, but teaching art is also a business. For a growing number of artists, professional training is taking place at for-profit art schools, rather than at the traditional nonprofit college, and the number of these schools has been increasing to meet the very clear demand. Some of these degree-granting schools you may have heard of without knowing that they are “proprietary,” or for-profit, for instance, New York City’s School of Visual Arts, which has approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

There are some other, smaller ones around the country, such as Art Center Design College in Tucson, Arizona, Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut and the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver. However, the largest art school in the country, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, is a for-profit with more than 17,000 students, far more than the largest nonprofit art college (Savannah College of Art and Design, around 8,200 total students) and dwarfing some of the most prestigious (Rhode Island School of Design, 2,400 students; CalArts, 1,460; School of the Art Institute of Chicago, around 3,100; Maryland Institute College of Art, around 1,930).

For prospective students (and, perhaps, their parents), the question may be, ‘Are the for-profits as good as the nonprofits in terms of what they offer and the quality of instruction?’ Continue reading

Congratulations! You’re in debt


By Rich Lowry

Amid all the uplifting cliches at their commencement ceremonies, graduating college students won’t hear a line applicable to some of them — you got ripped off.

Student debt just surpassed the country’s credit-card debt for the first time. It is projected to top $1 trillion this year, according to The New York Times, when it was less than $200 billion in 2000. For the class of 2011, the mean student debt burden is nearly $23,000, up 8 percent from a year ago.

There’s no doubt that graduating from college brings a significant economic advantage, but that doesn’t excuse the waste and self-satisfied lassitude of American higher education. Colleges appropriate tuition dollars from America’s students with an ever-accelerating voracity, yet don’t deliver any additional educational benefits — indeed, they do the opposite. Higher education is one of the sectors of American life that most desperately needs a thorough re-conception. Continue reading

A_M System Regents Set to Meet Thursday – Box Wants Open and Honest Dialogue Regarding “Seven Breakthrough Solutions.

Thursday marks a big set of meetings for the Texas A_M System Board of Regents.

Among the items on the agenda are discussions differential tuition increases for four A_M colleges — architecture, business, engineering, and veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences. Continue reading

Is College Education for Everyone?

By Tom Pauken
Meanwhile, a story in the May 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal reports that manufacturing businesses across the country are struggling to find employees with the math and science skills and training necessary to “operate and repair sophisticated computer-controlled factory equipment.” These jobs pay well – some as high as $80,000 – yet high school students are consistently pressured not to pursue them by an educational system that believes earning a college degree is the only path to success. Continue reading

Chairman of A_M Regents – Concerned About the Future of Higher Education

“I am concerned about the future of higher education in our state and across the country as costs continue to escalate and a first-class education may be moving out of reach for more and more students.”

by Reeve Hamilton

Last week, Texas A_M University System Board of Regents chairman Richard Box received a letter from five Texas A_M University professors (along with more than 530 other faculty members who had electronically co-signed) concerned about his intended direction for the system. Today, he responded, saying, “We are all in this together.”

The regents have a board meeting later this week, and the professors had asked that, at that meeting, Box address “the specific problems that you are trying to solve within the Texas A_M University System using the ‘seven solutions.’” This is a reference to seven “breakthrough solutions” for higher education promoted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank.

The “solutions,” which have recently become a focal point of controversy about the future of higher education in Texas, were written by Austin businessman and TPPF board member Jeff Sandefer, who, along with Gov. Rick Perry, first encouraged regents to implement them at a summit in 2008. Continue reading

Senate Approves Outcome Based Higher Education Bill

By Erin Mulvaney/Reporter

The Senate passed a measure Tuesday that would link part of higher education funding to the student and university “outcomes” and performance.

The bill carried by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, in the Senate would reconfigure the universities’ formula funding to allow the state to tie no more than10 percent of the funding to graduate rates and other outcomes.

Currently, funding is based on enrollment at the beginning of each semester. Continue reading

UT Controvesry Evident at Commencement

By Suzannah Gonzales and Ralph K.M. Haurwitz

Lorena Gonzalez, right, 23, and Samla Velazquez, 24, reunite at the University of Texas Spring Commencement on Saturday.

Omar Ochoa spent eight years at the University of Texas, becoming the first Latino editor-in-chief of the Texas Law Review and, as an undergraduate, the first Latino student body president. Continue reading

Food For The “Is college worth it debate”

Andrew Gillen

College Education Thumbs Up - Times of Texas

One of the findings from the recent Pew study is that “an overwhelming majority of college graduates—86%—say that college has been a good investment for them personally.”

This is typically used by those making the point that college is worth it. That’s a fair enough point when used as a stat to argue that “going to college works out well for those that graduate.” But I would caution against an over-reliance on this in the “Is college worth it debate” for two reasons. Continue reading

UT President Powers Described Productivity Analysis as “inappropriate” and “not useful.”

By Reeve Hamilton

Powers calls Productivity study Useless - Times of Texas

Before the University of Texas System released an 821-page draft document showing faculty members’ salaries, research expenditures and total numbers of students taught, among other pieces of data, Dean Neikirk, the chair of the University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council, sent a note to his colleagues.

“It is likely that within a very short time various web pages will offer an ‘analysis’ of individual faculty ‘productivity,’” he warned. “Most, if not all, of this information was already available, but the ‘convenience’ of the release will no doubt invite a variety of interpretations.” Continue reading

Eagle, Express-News Blast Perry Over A_M

B-CS Eagle critiques Perry’s ‘obsession and interference’ with university

By Mary Lee Grant

News Blast - Times of Texas

The editorial boards of the Bryan-College Station Eagle and San Antonio Express-News are taking on Gov. Rick Perry for meddling in the affairs of Texas A_M University, accusing him of harming the institution. The Eagle’s critique was particularly scathing, saying that Perry’s “obsession and interference in A_M” has caused “damage some observers feel could take a generation to undo.”

Citing the Dallas Morning News, the Express-News criticized Perry for forcing Chancellor Mike McKinney into early retirement: “Will the governor use this as an opportunity to put in place a “yes” man who he can control from Austin? We hope not. There needs to be an independent national search for a new chancellor for the A_M University System. An appointee with political ties to the governor could spell disaster on several fronts.” Continue reading

Higher Education – About to Burst

Clayton Cramer:

Higher Ed Bubble - Times of Texas

For the last several months, an increasingly hot topic of popular discourse has been the higher education bubble. With many of the same characteristics as the housing bubble that collapsed several years ago, the higher education bubble features rapidly rising college costs, unrealistic expectations for the future value of that education, and people going to college who should not be doing so. And, oh yes, just like the housing bubble, the government is part of the problem. Continue reading

Bigger UT Teaching Loads Are Suggested

By Melissa Ludwig

Teachers Increase Workload - Times of Texas

About one-fifth of professors at the University of Texas at Austin carry a majority of the teaching load and generate 18 percent of research funding, suggesting that UT could step up teaching responsibilities without harming the research enterprise, according to a study released Monday by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Continue reading

Study Finds Reallocation of Resources Lowers Tuition In Higher Ed

Lower Prices in Higher ED - Times of Texas

A new study was released Monday by the D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity The bottom line is this: by incorporating even modest changes in the teaching work loads of the least productive professors would bring about substantial cost reductions in tuition and state taxpayer money while not tampering with tenure or the world class research being done at the university. UT-Austin, for example, would remain a solid Tier One research university.

Pew Research polls indicate that the value of a college degree is questioned by a growing percentage of Americans. A majority believe that higher education is no longer affordable and that it doesn’t deliver a good value. Continue reading

Texas Higher Ed Needs Restructuring

By JONATHAN COOPERSMITH – Special to The Eagle

Lemons - Times of Texas

If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. From that perspective, the unexpected and possibly involuntary resignation of Mike McKinney as the chancellor of the Texas A_M System provides the opportunity to rethink the structure of public university education in Texas. The result could save taxpayers millions of dollars and produce better universities.

The Texas A_M and University of Texas systems comprise 20 institutions (excluding medical centers, extension services and other agencies). Both the A_M and UT systems are dominated by their flagship, Tier 1 research universities. Continue reading

Room For Improvement At The University of Texas at Austin


An interesting new study highlights the vast disparities in teaching and research at UT:

Unbalanced Scales - Times of Texas

Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half (or, alternatively, state appropriations could be reduced even more—by as much as 75 percent). Moreover, other data suggest a strategy of reemphasizing the importance of the undergraduate teaching function can be done without importantly reducing outside research funding or productivity. Continue reading

Continued Controversy – UT, A_M Faculty Productivity Criticized in Studies — and Studies Criticized, too


Two new studies say that professors at Texas’ top public universities aren’t very productive — but critics say those studies are flawed.

Empty Classroom - Times of Texas

The studies — one examining the University of Texas at Austin , the other highlighting Texas A_M University — come during intense academic and political debate over the mission and performance of the state’s flagship public universities.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit research group, found that only a small portion of UT-Austin faculty teach the majority of classes. Some faculty do almost no teaching, nor do they bring in many outside research dollars.

“There is clearly room for improvement in terms of faculty productivity,” Richard Vedder, the center’s director and an Ohio University economist, said in a statement. “Simply by having faculty teach more students or courses, students and taxpayers will benefit significantly by reduced university costs.” Continue reading

What Texas Learned – Release of 821 Pages of “productivity” Data

By Harvest Moon

UT Productivity Data - Times of Texas

This month the University of Texas System released 821 pages of “productivity” data for all faculty members and graduate assistants employed at the nine academic campuses that make up the UT System. As an adjunct lecturer for UT- Arlington, I am listed, along with my dear friends and colleagues in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, on pages 91 through 93. We are sorted alphabetically, our names stacked one atop the other much like our mailboxes in the departmental office, and beside each is information about teaching loads, external research funding, cumulative grade-point averages, and compensation received in the form of salaries and benefits.

In public conversations, those taking place in print and online media, it is the report itself, rather than its content, that is at the center of the controversy. Publication of detailed information about the professional activities of those employed in postsecondary education has reignited long-running debates about the often conflicting ideals of individual privacy and institutional transparency, the relative values of teaching and research, and the meaning of and purpose of academic freedom. Continue reading

Newt Gingrich, Citing Rick Perry Comeback, Insists Campaign Still Very Much Alive

By Todd J. Gillman/Reporter

After a rocky first week as a presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich pointed this morning to Texas for inspiration – specifically, to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s come-from-behind landslide in last year’s GOP primary.

The Perry-Gingrich nexus is unusually tight. Rob Johnson , who ran Perry’s campaign, is now running the former House speaker‘s bid for president; Gingrich brought him along for breakfast with reporters at a hotel near the White House.

“Rob Johnson,” Gingrich said, “…was Rick Perry’s campaign manager when Perry began 27 points behind Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison , who Washington `knew’ was going to win, and ended up beating her by 21. Now, we don’t expect quite that big a swing against President Obama, but we could. Things’ll be interesting.” Continue reading

Teaching Loads and Affordability: The University of Texas Data

By Richard Vedder

A recently released Pew/Chronicle survey of American attitudes towards colleges shows that 75 percent disagree with the proposition that “college costs…are such that most people can afford to pay for a college degree.” A majority (57 percent) think that college these days is either “only fair” or ‘”poor” as a value. In that light, more effort is being made to control college costs and enhance the value proposition.

Cost of College - Times of Texas

The quintessential battle is now raging in Texas. Governor Perry appropriately wants higher productivity and lower costs, calling for a degree costing only $10,000 in tuition fees. New data suggest that goal is within reach at the state’s most prestigious public university, the Austin campus of the University of Texas.

Pressured by reform groups like the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the University of Texas has released a 821-page document on faculty at that institution: their salaries and benefits (and sources of funding them), teaching loads, research awards, tenure status, and in some cases grading and student-evaluation data. UT begged people to not engage in analysis of the data, saying it is preliminary. But the numbers are so compelling that a team of Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) associates headed by Christopher Matgouranis and Jonathan Robe has started analyzing that data, and CCAP has issued a preliminary report of findings. Continue reading

Data Shows Massive Disparity in Professor Productivity at UT-Austin

By Sibyl West | by Richard Vedder, Christopher Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe

If bottom 80 percent were half as productive as top 20 percent, tuition could be cut in half

Victoria Falls - Times of Texas

AUSTIN – At a time of alarming tuition costs and economic uncertainties, an analysis of the preliminary data released earlier this month by the University of Texas System shows one of the state’s flagship universities could make tuition vastly more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity conducted the study titled “Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin.” The study assesses faculty productivity at UT-Austin in terms of both research and teaching by delving into the data on faculty compensation, teaching loads and external research grant awards released by the University of Texas system.

“Our analysis shows that there is clearly room for improvement in terms of faculty productivity at UT Austin,” said Dr. Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and a co-author of the study.  “Simply by having faculty teach more students or courses, students and taxpayers will benefit significantly by reduced university costs.” Continue reading

New Study: Professors Work Less – Students Pay More

By: Matt S Dowling

Hard Work - Times of Texas

There has been a lot of debate on how to rein in tuition cost and a new study released by the Center for Affordability and Productivity shows some very interesting data. It analyzes the University of Texas and the workload of professors in conjunction with research funding. This study might redefine on how we look at university funding, so let’s jump right in:

  • 20 percent of UT Austin faculty are teaching 57 percent of student credit hours. They also generate 18 percent of the campus’s research funding. This suggests that these faculty are not jeopardizing their status as researchers by assuming such a high level of teaching responsibility.
  • Conversely, the least productive 20 percent of faculty teach only 2 percent of all student credit hours and generate a disproportionately smaller percentage of external research funding than do other faculty segments.
  • Research grant funds go almost entirely (99.8 percent) to a small minority (20 percent) of the faculty; only 2 percent of the faculty conduct 57 percent of funded research.

So what does all of this mean? Continue reading

UT-Austin Faculty Data Highlights Opportunities for Efficiency Gains

By David Guenthner

Modest improvements in faculty productivity could allow for substantial tuition reductions without threatening tenure or affecting externally funded research

AUSTIN – Modest increases in teaching loads at the University of Texas at Austin would produce hundreds of millions of dollars in savings to taxpayers and students, according to a preliminary analysis of faculty data released today by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP).

“These findings bring to light very real opportunities to provide a better education to students at vastly lower costs while preserving UT-Austin’s ability to conduct world-class research,” said David Guenthner, the Foundation’s senior communications director. “The data conclusively demonstrates that there is room for a greater emphasis on classroom instruction, while preserving UT-Austin’s prized Tier One status.”

Key findings of the CCAP analysis: Continue reading

What Exactly Are the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions?”

Seven Breakthrough Solutions - Times of Texas
There has been so much controversy surrounding the “seven breakthrough solutions”, we thought we would post them with full downloadable PDF solutions, so you can read and decide for yourself what the fuss is all about. Continue reading

About 30,000 Fewer Students Would Get Texas Grants Under Proposed Budget Compromise

Higher education officials estimate nearly 30,000 fewer students would get Texas Grants under financial aid decisions made Monday by legislative negotiators.

A total of 106,000 students got Texas grants in the current two-year budget period.

The budget proposal would cover 77,300, including all 44,200 of those who are renewals and the rest students getting first-time awards.

The vote on higher education funding came as House and Senate negotiators made final decisions on a state budget plan for the next two years. They plan to formally vote on the overall budget Thursday, sending the compromise to the full House and Senate for consideration.

The financial aid reduction is the best higher education officials could have hoped for since it followed the more generous Senate proposal. Continue reading