Hey there Jessica. I agree with the most part on all your points and would add one more: Kill tenure. But first, a bit about me so you may understand my bias. I work at a big state school in the midwest (and as you may see from my profile, I am one of ‘em pesky admins charged with finance). I am a bottom feeder, just doing what I told and whenever I voice my opinion (which I did a whole lot more when I first started before being chewed up multiple times) my voice goes unheard too. Also, before working here, I hated when the governor would cut taxes only to cut education funding, thinking all the tuition hikes/decrease in faculty was the government's fault. I know now that it is (in large part) the admins’ fault and if I were in politics I don’t think I would give higher ed much more funding. After all, as state funding has decreased over the years higher tuition (and private fundraising) has more than made up, even if the faculty is not benefiting from it. “This historically important building is falling apart? Why invest in maintenance when we can build one for only 10x the cost! I love pictures of me cutting a ribbon next to important people” said every chancellor ever. Anyway, here are some thoughts, I hope you read ‘em.
Kill athletic programs: There is so much wrong with the state of athletics it is ridiculous. Ideally though, universities would heavily tax these programs (they do generate stupid amounts of money after all) and use that income to fund real academic endeavors. Then again, that is unlikely to happen, so might as well kill these drain of resources.
Kill admissions testing: As a quant guy, it’s hard for me to believe that there is no value at all in this. Then again, I can see your point about continuing a long standing culture of disenfranchisement towards the most vulnerable. This is a complicated topic (as it dovetails to who do you accept when you are the Harvards of the world), but I concede the point too.
Pay teachers +, admins -: YES. Especially adjuncts, who are the lifeblood of this damn system and make pennies. And admins (big time admins like Chancellors and stuff) get paid ridiculous amounts for, and I can tell you this first hand, not doing a whole lot… There is too much fucking politics in higher ed and their whole job is to deal with that. They don’t add value but rather prevent explosions from besmirching the name of their school. Like, fuck all man, just do a better job administrating things and there won’t be fires to put up. Then again, and this ties with my last point, old ass faculty are equally ingrained in this awful system. In other words, yes admins are overpaid and adjuncts are waaay underpaid. Professors tho…
Focus on non-trad students: Yep. Especially in big schools where there are few resources for non-full time students.
Listen to teachers: Okay, here’s a thought, and please keep an open mind: professors don’t know much better than current administrators how to best deploy resources. Professors have their own internal biases and if they were to be the ones making all the decisions any university would devolve in a civil war. How do I know? Welp, I’ve seen it. Professors want their own little world to have everything and forget that this might mean other departments may suffer as consequence. If professors were the ones making decisions in my university there wouldn’t be an art school, as the behemoths of engineering, business and law would eat it alive. Then again, I know that current admins are not all that bright and don’t always do what’s best for the school, mainly because they care more about their image than the school’s success. Here’s a thought though, those deans, provost and chancellors? All former professors. Removed enough from class that, as you say, don’t have their ear on the ground, but ingrained enough on the system that they ARE the fucking politics. Ok then, what’s the solution?
Kill tenure: When I was in school the BEST professor of the department left. He was very outspoken about why: he loved teaching but was pressured by the department to do more research than he wanted to if he were to get tenure. The flip side of the coin is a current professor in the school I work for that has taught 1 class per semester for over 12 years now. He also doesn’t do shit in terms of research. His classes are sparsely enrolled (seniors have always been good about telling freshmen who to avoid) and he spends thousands of dollars in materials from the school to basically remodel his own fucking house. Then again, he got tenure about 30 years ago. We literally can’t get rid of him. It didn’t happen with this guy, but others in similar situations (bad at teaching, already tenured) tend to be… promoted. Yep, ye old case of failing upwards. If your dean doesn’t teach, it’s probably because they were terrible teachers. But if they are shifted from the department to a position they don’t need to teach (read: chair -> associate dean -> dean -> vice provost, etc.), it’s not your problem anymore, right?
Jessica, I don’t know where you teach, but be honest and try to tell me that tenure is purely about merit. You know as well as I do that it isn’t. It is about playing nice with the people around you, voting in line with the party and going to the mandatory happy hours where faculty talk shit on admins (and their own fucking students). It’s a broken system that only helps create this disgusting environment where politics are more important than anything else.
Yes, athletics make ungodly amounts of money that should go towards academics, but admins would only use that extra money to give themselves raises or hire useless yes-people in their staff. Yes, admins make too much fucking money and adjuncts too little, but that’s because admins are generally cut from the same cloth as tenured faculty. If professors were given the same contracts as adjuncts (and are paid what they are actually worth[read: more], of course), there wouldn’t be an environment prone to the cesspool of ego games currently present in higher ed. Shit, if I keep writing I’m just going to keep going in circles. Hope you get to read this.