Wednesday, December 29, 2010
L.A. Times op-ed, Invest in Higher Education
, by Erwin Chemerinsky
The proposals for the University of California now being considered in Sacramento — limiting tuition and fees, freezing executive and faculty salaries and increasing legislative control over the UCs — are well intentioned. But they are a recipe for ruining a great public university system. ...
One proposal being discussed is freezing or decreasing executive and faculty salaries. But this is no answer. If the University of California is going to retain and attract high-level faculty, it must pay the same as comparable schools across the country. Over the last few weeks, I have negotiated salaries with superb professors we are attempting to recruit who are currently teaching at Harvard, Northwestern and Yale. The University of California must match their current salaries or they will not come. As much as I love living in Southern California, I could not have afforded to leave Duke University if it meant taking a substantial pay cut.
Most university professors make relatively modest salaries. In professional schools, salaries are higher because that is what the national market dictates. Paying significantly less than other schools will mean that the best faculty will leave and those with other choices will not come. The quality of teaching and research will steadily decrease and the university will spiral downward, as it will then be ever harder to attract excellent students and faculty.
For contrary perspectives, see:
- University Diaries, Today’s Shameless Award Goes to… "... the dean of the recently opened, totally unnecessary, school of law at the University of California Irvine. In response to the terrible crisis in that state’s public system, Erwin Chemerinsky warns darkly against freezing or decreasing executive and faculty salaries. ... Well, let’s get to it. How much do you make? How much do your law school colleagues make? How much do they teach? How many of your graduates get jobs as lawyers (the Irvine school opened despite the fact that California has a glut of lawyers, and large numbers of unemployed law school grads)? And, uh, didn’t you tell me, when justifying your unjustifiable new school, that your faculty would be all about turning out public interest lawyers? So… hard-nosed, hyper-capitalist, private sector salaries for our faculty, but of course! And crappy non-profit positions for our idealistic students. ... Listen to Kristin Luker, Chemerinsky. She’s a colleague of yours at Berkeley."
- Cloudminder (Dedicated to UC Alumni in Support of Reclaiming & Reforming the University of California): "Erwin Chemerinsky is dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, he said this: "Nor is there reason to believe that there are significant wasteful expenditures within the UC system." ... That quote (by a dean) does not help make the case for UC Irvine's controversial new law school or securing its hoped for future prestige. We need Deans who can look at waste, fraud and abuse news stories and confront the problems and implement real solutions-- not obfuscate, brush off real problems, spin."
- Roy Meddock: "Absolute nonsense. The UC President gets a salary of $800,000.00/yr plus amazing benefits such as $30,000.00 for a dog run. No more tution increases. Stop over paying faculty. Do not run Universities like Club Med."
(Hat Tip: Jack Chin.)
Update: Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA):
If you think California benefits from having someone who is one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance doing award winning teaching at a public university, you're going to have to accept UCLA paying something near market price.
But then we come to this little nugget:
Nor is there reason to believe that there are significant wasteful expenditures within the UC system.
Sorry, Erwin, but you just went off the rails. The UC Merced campus was an unnecessary financial burden. And speaking of unnecessary UC programs, your law school at UC Irvine was documented to be completely unnecessary.