Waste in Higher Education

Two years ago, the University of Connecticut announced a series of annual increases in tuition and fees to fund the addition of hundreds of new faculty members.  At the time, the following article appeared in the New Haven Register:

"STORRS -- The University of Connecticut trustees have voted unanimously to approve a 6 percent increase in tuition and fees starting next fall.  The measure approved Monday by a voice vote will increase tuition and fees between 6 and 6.75 percent annually over the next four years.

"UConn President Susan Herbst says the increases will help hire 290 new professors over four years, making classes more available for students.  Many undergraduates have needed to stay extra semesters or commute to branch campuses because mandatory courses were filled at Storrs.  Room and board will also increase by 3 percent next fall under the proposal.  The combination of increases will make UConn's overall cost rise between 4.2 and 4.6 percent each year."

UConn's president and trustees approved a 25 percent increase in the cost of tuition and fees to students and families over the next four years to hire new faculty.  The new faculty are needed to teach courses their students must take in order to graduate on time.  It made me wonder why the current UConn faculty are so busy that they aren't available to teach the courses that students need to graduate.

I went to UConn's web site and accessed their on-line undergraduate and graduate course catalogs.  Posted on the site are the following undergraduate courses that current faculty are teaching.

3505.  White Racism.  The origin, nature, and consequences of white racism as a central and enduring social principle around which the United States and other modern societies are structrured and evolve.

3621.  Sociology of Sexualities.  Explores the social organization, construction, and politics of sexualities; particular focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer experiences and the intersection of sexualities, gender, race, and class.

2255.  Sexualities, Activism, and Globalization.  (Formerly offered as WS 2255.)  Three credits.  Prerequisite:  Open to sophomores and higher.  Globalization of LGBT identities, cultures and social movement activism, and cultures from a transnational perspective; use, role and impact of digital media.

2255W.  Sexualities, Activism and Globalization.

3252.  Genders and Sexualities.  (Formerly offered as WS 3252.)  Three credits.  Examination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.  Focused exploration of three to four topics.

4035.  Advanced Study of Media Effects:  Sex, Drugs and Rock N Roll.  Three credits.  Prerequisite:  COMM 1000 and 1300; open to juniors or higher.  Contentious topics in media effects research, and their theoretical implications.  Topics include, but are not limited to, secual content on television, pornography, alcohol on television, video games, and media impact on body image.

4470.  Soap Opera/Telenovela.  (Also offered as PRLS 4470.)  Three credits.  Prerequisite:  Open to juniors or higher.  Recommended preparation:  COMM 1000, 3300.  Socio-cultural functions of soap operas/telenovelas as mediated serials constructed by commercial organizations and consumed by United States and global audiences.

3028W.  Indigenous Rights and Aboriginal Australia...

If one of my children attended UConn, I'd be very unhappy to learn that my hard-earned tuition payments were being used to pay people to teach courses like these.  I'd be especially unhappy if one of my children had to stay in Storrs for an extra semester, incurring additional costs, because they couldn't complete mandatory courses in their first four years on campus.  Is it more important to teach courses about white racism and LGBT than courses kids require to earn a diploma?  Come to think of it, after seeing the courses taught at UConn, if one of my children attended that school I'd probably pull them out and send them to another school!

And the hits just keep on coming.  The following course is offered for MBA candidates in UConn's graduate school of business.  Just think, your child could earn three graduate credits for attending...

MGMT 5639.  Gender Diversity in the Workplace...  This course chronicles and examines the transition that is taking place in the workplace due to increased diversity in employees.  It examines gender relation issues such as sex differences and sex role development, occupational choice and organizational entry, peer and manager-subordinate interactions, sexual harassment, career development, the interface between work and family, and strategies for promoting equal opportunity in organizations.  It examines diversity issues stemming from differences in individual characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and national origin.  Prerequisite:  MGMT 5138.

The existence of this course in the catalog tells me (at least) two things about UConn's graduate business school faculty and administration.  First, like many academicians, they are out of touch with today's American business organizations.  If they were in touch, they would know what a negative view business people hold of diversity training programs.  Second, I suppose the business school professors and administrators believe that courses on "gender relations issues such as sex differences and sex role development" are just what their students need to earn their MBA, enter the workforce and regain competitive position with China.

Instead of increasing tuition and fees by 25 percent and hiring 290 new professors, perhaps UConn should conduct an in-depth review of its current courses and curricula.  The study should result in taking action to eliminate the fluff (see above and other courses in the catalog).   Then, President Herbst and the UConn trustees could hold another voice vote, cancel the increase in tuiton and fees, and redeploy current staff to teach what their students need to graduate instead of what their professors want to teach.

Copyright 2014 James F. Leonard.  All rights reserved.

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