Texas Tech Profs Revolt Over Teaching
Some professors at Texas Tech are warning of dire consequences if the university goes forward with a massive increase in enrollment, especially if it is achieved by forcing teachers to teach more.
Some of Texas Tech’s most prestigious professors are concerned about their chancellor’s drive to increase the student body from 28,000 to 40,000 by 2020.
They especially are concerned about his assistant’s recent suggestion the university could save millions if officials cut back the number of hours faculty are excused from teaching to pursue scholarly activities and simultaneously enrolled more students in more classes. That would have disastrous consequences, a group of Paul Whitfield Horn professors, led by David Knaff, warned the chancellor last month in a letter.
The chancellor, Kent Hance, said their disapproval stems largely from misinformation.
Knaff is on sabbatical and could not be reached for comment.
That Knaff is leading the charge against increased teaching loads whilst on sabbatical — i.e., taking the semester off from teaching in order to concentrate on research — is quite amusing. But the professors in question are actually outstanding teachers.
The Horn title is considered the highest title a professor can earn at the university for outstanding teaching, research and service.
“While we generally support the concept of increasing the number of students, it is essential that such an increase involves the best undergraduate and especially graduate students. This implies raising admissions standards, creating competitive scholarships, investing in research and scholarship activities,” they wrote in the letter, which The Avalanche-Journal obtained on Monday. “Instead, you seem to be committed to dramatic growth by making our costs very much lower than those of other institutions, causing students to flock to TTU because we will provide education at a bargain basement cost.’ ” The push for thousands more students has already lowered the quality of the student body, according to the letter, which also raises questions about where officials will get the money to invest in resources for new students, like labs and dorm rooms.
So, it’s not just about teaching loads but about the type of students the university will enroll. And, indeed, the chancellor denies any plans to reduce research time. That Chancellor Hance does not have an earned doctorate and did not come up through the ranks of the faculty but is an attorney and politician likely reduces his credibility in making that claim.
Regardless, I suspect one’s views on the controversy will split almost exactly on a where-you-stand-is-where-you-sit basis, with professors on the side of low teaching loads and everyone else wondering what the fuss is about. After all, teaching is a university’s mission, right? Most faculty, especially a PhD-granting institutions, see themselves as scholars first and teachers second, however.
via Inside Higher Ed