Paul L. Caron

Friday, April 22, 2022

This University President Is Focused On Performance And Productivity. That Worries The Faculty.

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Chronicle of Higher Education, This University President Is Focused on Performance and Productivity. That Worries the Faculty.:

Missouri Logo (2020)The University of Missouri’s system office used to have a staff of 10, including two vice presidents. Now only two people are left. That’s been an intentional choice, to curb administrative costs, said Mun Y. Choi, president of the Missouri system and chancellor of its flagship, in Columbia. ... The administrative cost-cutting is part of a larger effort Choi said he is leading across the Missouri system to measure performance and investment return in every unit and department.

Choi noted that he’s not just making cuts. This month, he announced a $1.5-billion initiative called Mizzou Forward, which includes a faculty-recruitment push and $500 million in performance-based raises for faculty and staff members over the next five years. The system is also touting its NextGen Precision Health institute, an effort to improve health outcomes and access to care across the state.

But some faculty leaders have questions. Where is all that money coming from? Where is the money going? How are decisions about cuts being made? How is faculty performance being measured? Theodore Koditschek, president of Mizzou’s AAUP chapter and a professor emeritus of history, said in a phone interview that they haven’t yet gotten satisfactory answers.

Last month, 94 percent of voting faculty members at Mizzou approved a resolution saying that there was a crisis in shared governance on the campus. The faculty also passed a resolution calling for an end to a policy spearheaded by Choi that allows tenured professors’ salaries to be reduced by up to 25 percent. Koditschek said the faculty have a deep lack of trust for the administration. ...

Choi’s focus on performance and productivity is worrying some faculty members.

As the president-chancellor sees it, measuring performance isn’t particularly subjective. For faculty members, it mostly falls into the three core areas of teaching, research, and service.

For institutions that are part of the Association of American Universities, he said, research performance and scholarship are especially important, as is teaching prowess. The university wouldn’t rely exclusively on numerical student-evaluation ratings, he said, but he believes students’ comments are worth considering.

Choi has also moved to reduce the pay of some professors deemed less productive. ... “My message has been, if a faculty member is getting paid 100 percent of their salary, we expect 100-percent effort,” Choi said. If they’re doing less research, he said, they can teach more or take on an administrative role.

Koditschek said he’s concerned that the administration is trying to use simple metrics to determine whether faculty members are productive. In some STEM fields, faculty members publish a lot of journal articles, often with multiple authors. In history, Koditschek said, publishing books — far less frequently — is more common.

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