23 November 2010

The monetary value of a professor

According to this Wall Street Journal article, Texas wants to assign a monetary value to each of its university faculty members. For example, Carol Johnson (Biology) is worth minus $279,617,  a colleague of hers, Charles Criscione is worth minus $45,305, history professors are worth minus a lot more, and so on.

Students are customers, and as such, they have every right to receive royal treatmement that goes all the way to assigning a value to each of their lecturers.

The logic is simple: If a professor is worth plus something, then keep them. If a professor is worth minus something, then fire them. And the savings can be used for increasing the other professors' salary.

So what's gonna happen? There will be a university with no languages, no history, no biology, no mathematcs, none of these subjects which generate negative profit. The university will comprise of Business, Marketing, Media--whatever it generates immediate profit.

Performance metrics they say, and they mean it in Texas. Texas wants it BIG. No small potatoes, but big bucks.

The article above mentions, in particular, Chester Dunning, a history professor, has won several teaching awards. According to a report by the chancellor, he also loses money for the university, though his department is in the black overall.

What is the solution? I propose one, Texas-style: Get in his office and shoot him!

1 comment:

  1. So ridiculous -- it's the same logic that would have a law firm fire all the janitors, IT people and receptionists since on an individual level none of these people bring in any direct profit in terms of billable hours.

    The sad thing is that by going down this path they're missing out on real opportunities to make universities more efficient and accountable (the stats in the article about literacy rates of those with diplomas shows something needs to be done).



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant