Professor-ranking spreadsheet causes debate (and angst) in Texas, and nationwide

The Huffington Post reports:

For years, state legislators, parents, and even his own boss had been hectoring Frank Ashley, the vice chancellor of academic affairs for the Texas A&M University System, to tell them whether his highest paid professors were worth their often fat paychecks.

Ashley responded with a spreadsheet that listed each of his faculty members according to how much money they made or lost for the university.

The study calculated an individual professor’s “revenue” based on the tuition he or she brought to the school — a product of the number of students taught — and the amount of research awards and grants he or she obtained, among other factors. The greater the number of classes and students taught, the greater the revenue. If a professor’s annual salary was lower than the amount of revenue generated, it was black. Otherwise, it was red.

Of the 50 highest compensated faculty members, only five appeared to be in the black and earning their keep. The rest were crimson.

Although the study, still in draft-mode, was meant for internal use only and, by Ashley’s own admission, deeply flawed, the Texas A&M University System was forced to release the 265-page document on its own website after The Eagle, a local newspaper, filed an open records request.


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