Out of balance

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The American Association of University Professors, or AAUP, released their 2013-2014 statistical report on the economic status of higher education in the U.S. in the March-April issue of Academe.

The implication of the report is that higher education is being transformed away from its role as an academic institution into one for sports entertainment managed by well paid non-faculty executives who administer increasing amounts of funding for athletic programs but less and less for academic instruction. A few statistics from the AAUP report clarify this identity shift in our universities. Between 1975-2011:

— the number of non-faculty professional employees increased by 369 percent while full time academic academic tenured faculty increased by only 23 percent.

— wages for university presidents (now referred to as CEOs) increased by 175 percent while that of professors increased 23 percent or less

In public, four-year institutions between 2005-2011:

— funding per academic student increased 1 percent

— funding per student athlete increased 25 percent

Between 2005-2012:

— median wages and benefits for head coaches in NCAA Division I-A football and basketball increased between 93 percent and 102 percent while full professors only received a 4 percent increase.

As a side note, I might mention another imbalance reported by AAUP: There is a $7,000 annual difference between the wages of full professors at UM and MSU—the difference favoring MSU.

However, it is a mistake to blame this situation principally on university management, though it appears to have done remarkably little to alter these trends. Many of Montana’s higher education financial problems began in the early 1970s with the increasing reluctance of our state legislature to adequately fund our institutions of higher learning for our children. Unless this trend is dramatically reversed, matters will only grow worse and the academic programs will only be footnotes to the activities in our football stadiums and basketball courts. If readers disagree with my interpretation of the AAUP statistics, I would suggest they read the entire AAUP article titled “Losing Focus.”

James Todd

Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities

University of Montana

Missoula

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