College of Liberal Arts says ‘Seven Solutions’ impair education

Huma Munir

The College of Liberal Arts released a report today in which Dean Randy Diehl said suggestions in “The Seven Breakthrough Solutions for Higher Education” could significantly undermine the quality of education and research at the University.

Diehl said he agrees with the “The Solutions’” goals to improve productivity and excellence at the University by evaluating faculty and increasing scholarships and grant programs for students.

“This is just an honest disagreement in terms of how to achieve those goals,” Diehl said.

The solutions, written by Austin businessman Jeff Sandefer, are supported by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, as well as Ohio State University economics professor Richard Vedder and Gov. Rick Perry.

“Some state leaders are advocating a business-style, market-driven approach under which colleges and universities would treat students as customers, de-emphasize research that isn’t immediately lucrative and evaluate individual faculty by the tuition revenue they generate,” Diehl’s report says.

The UT System released data requested by the Board of Regents including faculty names, salaries and class enrollment sizes two months ago with cautionary statements saying the data is premature and cannot yield accurate results. Vedder responded to the release of data in op-ed articles saying if professors increased their class sizes, tuition could be reduced significantly.

“Professors are getting relief time from the classrooms to produce articles that are not worth anything, aren’t read or aren’t cited by other researchers,” Vedder said to The Daily Texan two weeks ago.

The College of Liberal Arts report addresses some proposals for improving higher education which are based on data that was not properly filtered, Diehl said.

The report also highlights the importance of research in humanities and arts and addresses class sizes and student rankings.

It makes a distinction between the roles of tenured track faculty members and assistant professors and administrators, who are considered the “least productive” members of the University, according to a press release sent out last week by the Texas Coalition for Higher Education.