Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arizona State Faculty Face 12% Pay Cut by June 30

Scary news from the Arizona Republic:

Arizona's public universities on Tuesday unveiled their offers to make cuts in their budgets this year, saying they would strip thousands of employees of weeks of pay and eliminate jobs and some programs. ...

[T]he proposal would require employees, including tenured professors, to take time off as unpaid leave. ... ASU's portion of the proposed $100 million cut is $45.3 million. Much of it would come from employees, who could lose 12% percent of their remaining pay before July.

A memo from ASU's President provides further details of the furlough/pay reduction for faculty.

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For all those saying it's about time that the "real world" hit academia, let's clear a few things up. I suppose you are referring to the fact that professors have relatively good schedules, autonomy, and a low-stress environment. No need to argue with that. However, everyone who settles into academia for these benefits is also sacrificing when it comes to potential salary.

Whatever a prof is making in academia, he could earn much more plying his trade in business or industry. His hours would get worse, he would lose some autonomy, and his stress would increase. . . . And he would be making much more money.

So you know what you can do with your "welcome to reality" theory.

Posted by: Ken | Feb 22, 2009 11:30:10 AM

I strongly disagree with those who feel that these cuts are a good thing and a long time in coming.

Schools will not be substnatially decreasing enrollment, but instead will be forced to decrease student-professor contact hours.

The idea that if everyone goes to college one requires a masters or more to distinguish oneself may have some validity, but it is nonetheless the reality of the current educational climate. (That complaint just seems like a bitter rant.)

Educating more people means more jobs are done with a greater level of specificity, literacy, and expertise. Our job markets require college educations of most workers and as a result, students will continue to enroll in schools, but will find fewer resources there to meet their needs. Such a change is cause for concern for all of us.

The quality of an American education should be the concern of every citizen who thinks about the fate of our nation. Better education gives rise to a better work force, which in turn strengthens our position in the global economy. In addition, and just as importantly, without a well educated citizenry, those who vote will be more likely to make ill fated decisions that affect us all. A thriving system of public education is the backbone of a functioning democracy and the defunding of the university systems is a draconian measure that can only harm Americans. This terrible change is a product of poor state funding, not of market forces determining the value of a product. (An undergraduate education, by the way, is one of the highest valued things a person can pay -- and work -- to obtain.) It is this sort of crude, deregulatory thinking that caused the current fiscal crisis. This roughness of thought has no place in a discussion of something as sacred as higher education. It is that very education, no doubt, that gave those posters the ability to access the economic theories they've espoused on this blog.

Posted by: Annette | Feb 17, 2009 3:45:17 PM

Law professors are typically chosen from the top 5 or 10 percent of law students and make an average of a little over $100,000 per year. Lawyers at large law firms are typically chosen from among more mediocre students and make several times as much. So who is being over- and under-paid, and how much will it really benefit society to take out its economic problems on this relatively small and undercompensated group?

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 30, 2009 6:02:02 PM

I graduated from Arizona State 7 years ago and the tuition has skyrocketed since I was there. Plus, there are about 70,000 students there now. Yet, they are broker than ever. The problem with ASU is that of every other public university. They aren't run like a business, the pay scales are way too high, and the professors get spoiled.

And I agree 100% with the guy above who says getting rid of the diversity office is a good place to start. I remember some many people involved in "diversity" it was a joke. On more than one occassion there, I made comments like, "oh yeah, I forgot, white men need not apply around here."

I love ASU. It is a highly underrated learning institution and you can do a lot of good things as a result of that place.

Posted by: Brian | Jan 30, 2009 10:13:35 AM

Many of you make the erroneous assumption that the administrators who have made things such a mess will wise up and cut funding where it should be cut. That is not going to happen.

The suggestions that "pay cuts/reductions should just be applied to all the nonsense curricula like "Womyns' Studies" and all the other feelgood nonsense" is perfectly logical which means there is no chance it will happen. The science, technology, and business areas are the areas that will be cut.

One problem is that as more weak students have been admitted to universities they necessarily gravitate to the least rigorous majors. Administrators see that "under water basket weaving" and similar majors are growing so they increase recruiting efforts and funding in those majors and thus siphon off some of the students who otherwise would have gone into more needed areas. And that happen during times of plenty!

Now that funding it tight look for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs to be among the first cut. There is an old saying about you can't fix a problem by doing the same things that caused the problem. We see national politicians trying to increase taxes to aid the economy even though that just makes it harder for businesses to succeed. We will see college administrators harm the majors that lead to jobs to protect the majors that lead to unemployment. It is just in their nature.

Posted by: Ross | Jan 30, 2009 7:13:07 AM

I'm at UNC (Univ North Carolina). We are also getting end of the world statements from our higher ups. This is basically a paycut, and will make education worse at ASU. Please don't slam on the profs for catering to a system that is already out of whack (helicopter parents, grade inflation, huge classes, etc).

COllege, esp community college enrollment is up accross the nation. When the economy turns bad, it's natural to think about switching careers via education. College/CC allows us to do that. Think what would happen if it wasnt possible to get educated in a different field. You would be stuck in one field for the rest of your life, that or spend another decade struggling to the top when you already have a college education and expertese at a professional career. Cuts to colleges right now don't really help that. I don't defend colleges, they churn out way too many students that most fields can support. But ultimate, we, the products of such education, are to blame. People who end up with useless degrees are the ones to blame for that.

I spent 12 years getting a degree I thought and was led to believe would be highly useful and important. Turns out it isn't, thanks to global competition, i'm just another low-paid grunt with little chance for advancement. Now I'm going back and getting certification in another field to try and start my life over. I blame myself for essentially wasting 12 years, but I am so much more knowledgable now about the world than i was when i started this.

The real travesty is when you get 18 year olds with no career guidance whatsoever, they pick a major at random, sometimes they end up with a useful one, but by and large they dont.

Posted by: Rob | Jan 30, 2009 6:16:39 AM

It's not just faculty. Staff are people too.

Former Governor Janet Napolitano reigned over huge State budget increases and now that her chickens have come home to roost, she's bailed out to the Obama Administration. It will be up to the Republicans to clean up her mess. If the Dems hadn't gone crazy with new spending during the tax revenue boom, basic programs like university education wouldn't be in this mess now.

By the way, the new governor is a Republican so a ton of Democratic political appointees lost their jobs. That's cold! I heard a rumor there were some groans when Napolitano spoke during an Arizona Democratic gathering during the Inauguration.

Factoid; 4 out of the last 5 governors of Arizona have been women.

Posted by: Loyola | Jan 29, 2009 11:29:38 PM

What goes around, comes around. Colleges and universities have been selling a flawed, over-priced product for years now, decades really, and have been able to raise prices almost at will. I'm with the other posters; too bad about individuals losing their positions, but institutionally, some belt-tightening for colleges can't help but be a good thing.

As far as complaints about faculty costs, cry me a river, folks. Adjunct faculty already teach a large and growing portion of classes for near-slave wages, little/no benefits, and no job security. Maybe all of those tenured folks doing two classes a year, and writing journal articles no one wants to read should try earning their keep for a change.

To all those in the academic community, formerly so insulated from the market, welcome aboard - it is indeed good to see you!

Posted by: Pete | Jan 29, 2009 10:29:51 PM

I'm an ASU Law student and we've been getting these end of the world emails from President Crow and our own Dean Paul Berman for weeks now. It's a sad state of affairs in the state of Arizona right now. Looking at the proposed FY 09 budget at the legislature right now it doesn't appear to be getting any better soon. I'm fairly opposed to the stimulus package coming out of Washington DC right now but any sent to AZ could really help right now.

Posted by: Eric | Jan 29, 2009 6:59:12 PM

Why don't they just cut out some administrators? In good times, they add too many; just remove a few of them.

Posted by: amy | Jan 29, 2009 6:04:32 PM

Its scary that they are so stupid.

Arizona is one of a bunch of states (California and Colorado come to mind) that require a super majority to raise a tax. Consequently, over time, the business/lobbying interests have turned their tax code into Swiss cheese. Now it can't be fixed.

Arizona is one the largest producers of Copper in the world. If it had a severance tax like most extractive states, it would have easily cleared $500 million to $700 million per year in the last few years, courtesy of the Chinese (mostly). With a Sarah Palin type Alaska severance tax, they would have cleared more like $1 billion per year. That's a nice rainy day fund.

What really bugs me is that the rest of us get to subsidize their Libertarian fantasy through make-up funding through the Obama stimulus package.

Posted by: Jim Harper | Jan 29, 2009 5:53:08 PM

Why is this "scary" news? Is there a public university out there that couldn't cut 10-20% (intelligently) of their employees without a discernible effect on their primary purpose of education (starting with the diversity office).

There is a difference between "need to have" employees and "nice to have" employees.

Posted by: WJ | Jan 29, 2009 5:13:19 PM

And I suppose that professors will be asked to take that "time off" on the days that they are not actually teaching, so as not to effect classes. And they will still prep for classes on days off, because they are professionals.

And those who are not tenured will continue to research during their "time off, so as to avoid losing their tenure bids.

So for professors this will just be a pay cut, pure and simple. No time off.

Posted by: John Drake | Jan 29, 2009 4:51:36 PM

Wow. Reality comes to the Ivory Tower. Next thing, they'll be improving their product offering instead of just raising its price every year for the same old crap.

Come to think of it, perhaps the pay cuts/reductions should just be applied to all the nonsense curricula like "Womyns' Studies" and all the other feelgood nonsense.

If corporations have to "cut the fat" in bad times, why not universities too?

Posted by: Kim du Toit | Jan 29, 2009 4:30:54 PM

Why is this scary?

Sounds like good news to me. In the real world, when your product is not very good and overpriced, this is what happens.

It would also be a good idea to eliminate tenure, increase teaching loads, cut way back on administrative overhead, and drop U Delaware style political indoctrination.

Posted by: Taxpayer | Jan 29, 2009 3:23:17 PM

I don't know if I would call this news "scary," (unless I was a college professor, in which case, yeah, it'd be scary) for most of us, it'll probably end up being one of the more useful side effects of the recession. If colleges are forced to cut professors' pay, they will probably end up having to cut jobs as well. Not that I look forward to people losing their jobs on an individual level, but on a macroeconomic level, I think that colleges being forced to become smaller and therefore more selective is definitely a good thing for our country down the road.

As it stands, way too many people are going to college who shouldn't be, either because they can't hack it, or because their probably going to end up working in a profession that shouldn't really necesitate a four-year degree. Making space for these people has the dual effect of devaluing a bachelors degree to the point where most people must have a masters to be "someone," and wasting time, space and resources that could otherwise be provided to those who have the drive and intelligence to make their time in college useful.

It would be a very good thing for our country if we went back to the point where a bachelor's degree was all that was needed for anyone not intending to become a doctor, lawyer, or scientist. There is no reason, say, an elementary school teacher needs to have a masters degree, and yet we've reached the point where it's almost required.

Posted by: Jimmy | Jan 29, 2009 12:18:29 PM