Faculty performance disputed, Powers defends UT values

Huma Munir

President William Powers Jr. came out against what he called “flawed” productivity analyses of the University that have been cropping up since the system released data on faculty performance last month.

Powers addressed the issue in a column which the Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News published and which he distributed to students by email Wednesday.

The task force on enhancing productivity and excellence, created in February by the Board of Regents, requested the data. The data is considered premature by the UT system administrators and was released with cautionary statements saying no analysis would yield accurate results.

It hasn’t stopped some institutions and organizations from basing their analysis on data that is not fully verified yet. For example, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity report said increasing class sizes could cut tuition in half.

“Many proposals these people are making would undermine the quality of the University,” Powers said.

In the column, he said UT could easily put 300 students in one class, as the report suggests, but that would be counterproductive to the goals of the University. Students would be less likely to gain the benefits of individual faculty attention in small classes, and professors would have less time to conduct research that brings prestige and revenue to UT.

“We expect our faculty to conduct research to expand knowledge and benefit society,” Powers said.

He said the University would not implement such suggestions, and the studies cast UT in a negative light.