An Academic Balance Sheet

Texas A&M may be among the first to develop an economic calculus to evaluate teaching and teachers but unless there is a near sea change in how we all think of education, how we value education such a calculus will be coming to your favorite university as well.

A several-inches thick document in the possession of A&M System officials contains three key pieces of information for every single faculty member in the 11-university system: their salary, how much external research funding they received and how much money they generated from teaching.
The information will allow officials to add the funds generated by a faculty member for teaching and research and subtract that sum from the faculty member’s salary. When the document — essentially a profit-loss statement for faculty members — is complete, officials hope it will become an effective, lasting tool to help with informed decision-making. [The Eagle.com]

Somehow, I thought that the reason for the existence of academia and its professors was for the good of human society in all its facets: library arts to prepare citizens for a democratic society; research to expand the horizons of humanity at large; and, oh yes, marketable skills for the good of the individual students. What does any of this have to do with calculating the economic value of a department or an individual professor? Based on what seems to be unfolding at Texas A&M, the main reason for the university’s faculty is purely the economic maintenance of the university itself.
Sure, the people interviewed for the Eagle.com article express caveats and talk about it being a work in progress and worry about this or that. The article points out the differences between what Texas A&M is doing and what some conservative think tank recommended. But the very existence of such a calculus for any reason other than pure research (and even then) demonstrates just how far our collective view of education and its highest embodiment has fallen.
Via Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog

One thought on “An Academic Balance Sheet”

  1. Not just of education, more and more of our Western society uses economic “bottom lines” to measure value. As Oscar Wilde said we “know the price of everything and the value of nothing” šŸ™

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