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The cost of College?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by burk48237, Mar 12, 2006.

I deserve a sabatacal because

Poll closed Apr 2, 2006.
  1. I work hard for eight months out of the year

    2 vote(s)
  2. It's just taxpayer money for the tuition

    0 vote(s)
  3. I have to prepare America's kids for jobs at Wal-Mart

    3 vote(s)
  4. It's a hard job taking care of all the carrots

    13 vote(s)
  1. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Although I think the American University system as a whole is certainly one of the finest systems on the planet, I believe that it is becoming largely unaccountable to the needs of students. In some cases it displays an arrogance that Ken Lay would be proud of. With tuition seemingly skyrocketing at 3-4 times the rate of inflation at a time when the need for a college education is heightened, I sense that some in university leaderships are out of touch with the reality of life in the "real world". This piece caught my attention in the Detroit News today, with the MI economy being the worst in the nation and the state facing major budget problems while the institutions of higher learning are demanding more finances, almost 4 % of the states college professors are on sabbatical at an average of 464,000 a year including benefits! I knew I should have tried for that teaching degree. Just wondering how many GM executives are getting sabbaticals right now.


  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    At my college the average teacher makes only around $60,000 a year. Many on sabaticals are doing research. Many teachers work the summer quarter as well. Many work other jobs over the summer.

    As for people undeservedly receiving taxpayer money as salaries, I think I'd put teachers at the bottom of that list. If you want an example of people making lots of taxpayer money for doing relatively little, I'd look at politicians.

    If you think you can get a spot as a professor at a university - best of luck to you on your "teaching" degree.
  3. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Aaron, I can't speak for your school but the average per teacher was close to a half a million per teacher. And that does not include the cost of hiring replacement teachers. And remember at many larger state universities the assistants are doing almost as much teaching as the teachers. Let me see, work nine months a year, take a couple of YEARS off with pay after ten years, and not work full time when I'm at my job. I'd bet a lot of "CEO's" would trade jobs in a heartbeat. I am saying that every college professor, or even a majority of them are goosing the system. But what I am saying is at a time when the American people could use some fiscal restraint in the decision making of most college administrations, I see very little evidence that it's even given a second thought.
  4. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Where are you getting that number near 1/2 million?

    My math isn't great, but I think over 500 teachers being paid $23 million should be quite a quite a bit less than $50,000 a year. A tenth of your average.

    I don't see why universities would be paid 6-10x their salaries when they are on sabbaticals.

    I doubt many CEOs could get jobs as professors. Professors have to have some really high credentials. When your job is that tough to get, I think you should get some leeway.

    For Universities' excessive expenses, I’m not sure if I would put professors in that category. I'm sure excessive spending is much worst in other parts of Universities.
  5. I want to see where you got that $464,000 figure. For an academic (as opposed to an academic administrator) to make over $200,000 is extraordinarily rare and generally limited only to medical, law, and business school professors.

    In any case, most professors who are on sabbatical are doing research full time. They are most definitely not lying on the beach in St. Tropez. I am a PhD student and I can tell you right now that even the professors who aren't doing much teaching are doing valuable research--that is, when they're not dealing with administrative responsibilities (sometimes necessary, oftentimes pointless) and bureaucracy. Professors spend most of their days reading, writing, reading, lecturing, reading, bouncing ideas off of colleagues...and did I mention reading? By the way, they're not doing this just nine months a year--they're doing it ALL YEAR.

    The portion of the academy that is dedicated to airy-fairy ivory-tower nonsense is a lot smaller than you or the right-wing blogosphere might think--and I say this as someone who's in an extremely hard-nosed subfield (transportation policy) within a policy-oriented field (urban planning). Even comparative literature departments can justify themselves by arguing that they are (in theory) trying to help us make sense of the world through analysis of the artistic products of various cultures.

    burk48237, did you go to college? If so, what did you study? And what percentage of the time were you sober? ;)
  6. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA

    My advisor (a full-tenured professor) probably spends most of his time reading. In each class he teaches, he gives out a reading list of around 200-300 books. He has read all of them and knows all of them enough to test the students' understanding of their concepts.

    Grading also takes lots of time. If a prof has 40 students turning in 15-page papers, that is 600 pages of grading. From my experience, many of my professors don't have much of a life outside of being a university professor.
  7. Well, a lot of profs hand over grading to TAs. It depends on the institution, and the course being taught.

    By the way, something about the poll: Students prepare themselves for jobs at Wal-Mart by picking easy majors that usually don't require much hard work. (Enrollments in the physical sciences and engineering have been falling for years.) It is plenty possible to have a high-quality educational experience at a Big Ten-sized university if you are willing to 1) work hard, 2) take the opportunities (seminars, office hours, etc.) available to you, and 3) work hard. Most students, though, just do the absolute minimum necessary to graduate so as to maximize the time they have available for partying/frat life/political protest/partying.
  8. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Definitely depends on the institution. I'm in my Junior year and I've only had one class where there was a TA that did grading. And the TA only did part of the grading.

    I think the near 1/2 million figure was just off by a decimal point. So I'm thinking less than $50,000 a year for full-time research is pretty low. It seems they need to increase the amount they are paying professors on sabbatical.

    Also the 4% figure seems far from drastic. One out of every twenty-five professors on sabbatical? That is minute.
  9. Any of you been to a Community College recently? Most of them don't make over $40,000 a year. And heaven help who ever get pregnent. I I've not seen a teacher who wasn't busy workign their tail off when I'm at the school.

    Rock on
  10. Since this thread is taking a bit of a turn against the original poster, let me point out that there's been a bit of a stink here in California about super-highly-paid UC employees (>$200k/year) scamming the state while on sabbaticals. The difference is that said employees are all administrators: provosts, deans, vice-provosts, etc.

    It makes no sense to me why, if a professor becomes an administrator, he/she should be taking sabbaticals. Your primary job responsibility as an administrator is to supervise others' research and teaching, not to do your own--and the traditional role of a sabbatical is to give an academic a year to write a book or undertake the research necessary to do so. Nor should writing a book be seen as somehow extracurricular: if you want tenure, you had better have a book--or at least a large number of very well-received journal articles--to your name in the period since your hire. The same thing goes for promotion from associate to full professor, in the period since earning tenure.
  11. Ah, yes, the chief employers of those who didn't publish, and thus perished.

    I'm lucky to be in a field where, if I don't want to deal with the nonsense of being in a research university, I can always get a job with a government agency, a private-sector consultancy, or somesuch. If I were doing a PhD in English literature, though, God help me... :eek:
  12. Ah yes, the great Catch-22 of the higher educational society. You are hired to teach students, but if you don't work to get yuor name in some obscure magazines, you won't advance. But if you spend all your time writing articles, you don't do what it is that you were hired for.

    That's okay. I've got a bunch of GREAT profs. My recording prof has been in the music industry since he was 16. My Criminal Justice prof spent 10 years with LA county sherrif and another 10 with Clark County Sherrif. I think I'm learning a lot here.

    Rock on
  13. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    The lead guitar player in my last band left a VP position at VW of America to teach in a community college. I can guarantee you he did not take a serious pay cut. He is the sole income of a house with two kids in college and two other kids. The house is in the 4000 sq. ft. range (new construction) complete with a two thirds length basketball court in a good neighborhood. It was purchased two years after he became tenured. He's not doing that on 40,000 a year, my guess judging from his travels, vehicles, etc. He is low six figure. And he has full benefits, not that he'll become pregnant anytime soon.:D

    Maybe it depends on the region, in MI. school teachers at the secondary level are amongst the highest paid in the nation, and receive excellent benefits. And the College profs do far better.
  14. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Someone missed the shift key when typing $64,000?
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Yeah - this is quite funny for us, as recently in the UK , college lecturers have actually been on strike in support of pay claims.

    So they are saying that most of them get less than they could in mundane jobs within outside industry...

    So it amused me how 'idealistic' (naive) I was when I was aged 19,20 or so - as I thought it would be a great life to be a lecturer ...say in Philosophy - but now I find that I probably couldn't afford to take the pay cut!!
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    From BBC News :

    Academics' patience runs out
    By Alison Smith
    BBC News education reporter

    Academics dispute the salary statistics given by employers
    Moira Macguire says she does not earn a fair wage for her expertise and the work she does.

    "I believe I earn less than a tube driver and I have a degree, PhD and 10 years' experience," the psychology lecturer and Natfhe official at the University of Westminster says.

    "I started at the bottom of a very low pay scale 10 years ago and have been paying catch-up ever since.

    "I've been surprised at the level of anger there is, even among members who are not normally that active. People have just had enough."

    She says younger staff are the ones who are suffering on low starting salaries, along with part-time lecturers who earn proportionately lower pay.

    "You have to ask: 'Is a PhD going to be attractive, coming into a low-paid career when you are trying to pay off debt?'"

    "Nobody comes into this for the money, but it takes a long time to train for this."

    Tania Burchardt, a senior research fellow in social policy at the London School of Economics, agrees.

    "Compared to people in the private sector or elsewhere in the public sector who have a number of years of training and experience, we are significantly under-paid," she says.

    There is new money to increase pay, striking lecturers say
    Unions have been very sympathetic to the employers' argument that they have not had enough money from government to fund wage increases above inflation, she says.

    But now the time has come to invest in staff.

    She rejects the suggestion that unions should wait until the trickle down effect of variable top-up fees, introduced this September, has been felt. Academics can no longer keep waiting, she says.

    And she will be participating in the "action short of a strike" which the unions have called for.

    This includes the boycotting of marking essays and exams.

    "We are still teaching and transferring knowledge. We are ensuring that the students still get their education."

    The presence on the picket line at LSE is pretty small. Lecturers who are there say they believe that in practice, many will stay at home.
  17. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    There's no way that the average is $464,000. When you actually divide $23.2 million by 500 the real answer is $46,400. I have a friend going to Utah State University as an Assistant Professor as soon as his Visa comes through and he'll be making around $65,000 plus benefits which is on the high side, but he had a fairly heavily negotiated contract based on his expertise and their need for it.

    Additionally, of all of the professors I've known to go on sabbatical, none have been on "vacation". Typically what I've seen is that they go to a location where some of their major scientific collaborators are in order to do some more in depth research than they do when they are also juggling classes with their research (which has to get done or they will not be getting any grant money).
  18. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    also note that the number of teachers is considerably higher than 500 (558).

    $23,200,000 / 558 = $41,755

    So Burk - you're angry that one out of twenty five professors are being paid $42,000 a year to take off sabbatical leave in order to do full time research?
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Sounds about right....:eyebrow:
  20. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    Some things to consider:

    1. Colleges are businesses. Administration often need time to go learn the latest nonsensical theories on how to ruin higher education through the corporate model. This seems to happen rarely at my level, the community college system, for any faculty as the districts are so poorly run that one of the first budget cuts is to sabbaticals

    2. University professors are not hired to teach. They are hired to do original research to expand the prestige of the institution. Teaching is just a justification for a paycheck. The UC system has made ridiculous rationalizations about faculty salaries based upon their innability to attract star talent. Believe me, most credentialed kindergarten teachers can teach circles around most university professors. A Ph.D. is not a magic ticket to competency in teaching. Some of the worst teachers I ever experienced were at the four-year level. A Ph.D. is simply an indicator that you have special skills in a particular research environment

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