NOTES ON THIS DRAFT:


This is the 18 December 1997 draft of the White Papers in conversation style giving the faculty's answers to questions most frequently asked about the life of university professors. You are invited to read this and comment on it.

Please send comments to Arthur M. Hobbs, e-mail address hobbs@math.tamu.edu .

Arthur M. Hobbs
Department of Mathematics
18 November 1997

Contents






INTRODUCTION



The Faculty of Texas A&M University are concerned that the operations and values of our university are misunderstood by the public and by the legislators who respond to the public will. This misunderstanding is driving questions about the essential character of the university.

Here we offer answers to the questions we are most frequently asked about how the university works and why it works that way. We hope that you, the reader of these answers, will at least come away with the realization that we stand poised and eager to carry on a dialogue with the people of Texas about the quality of higher education in the State of Texas and especially at Texas A&M University.

Another thing we hope you will get from our document is an understanding of the need for tenure. That need is driven by our creative activity. Creativity is risky, and sometimes it is controversial; the public's need for the results of creative studies is one of the justifications of the practice of tenuring those who do the studies.

We also hope you come away with the understanding that the faculty of the university are serious-minded and able people who care about their students, their research, and their service to the professional, university, state, and national communities.

In the following narrative, our questioner is an intelligent and skeptical person who is not part of the university community, but who has children attending the university. We think you will find his concerns are similar to your own.

BEGINNING



May I come in, Professor?

Mr. Johnson? Yes, come in! I am very glad to have this chance to answer the questions you mentioned when we talked on the telephone. Did I understand correctly that you have two children here?

I've got two daughters here, Casey and Kelly. Kelly's the older one - she's a senior planning to get a PhD. Casey's a freshman in business. She's planning to join me in running our family business after she graduates.

I'm sure you are very proud of both of them.

I mean!


PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSITY



Let's get right down to business. I want to make sure all the money I'm spending here is worth it. I've looked around this campus, and I'm impressed - it's huge. What all goes on here?

First, we prepare our students for productive and rewarding lives. We produce thinking and educated people - people who think for themselves and who understand how the work of our country has been performed in the past and will be performed in the future. The entire community - the state, the country, even the larger global community - shares the benefits that educated people bring to community life.

Second, we build knowledge, which is then shared with industry, business, education, the medical community, government, and other groups in our society. This knowledge may range from techniques for prolonging and improving life, to literature that reveals the lives of diverse groups of people. In practical terms, we produce intellectual property, such as new studies and improved machinery, that benefit all citizens.

Third, we dedicate time to a wide range of activities known as "service." As a land-grant university we have a special mission to serve the citizens of the state. Some, such as ranchers and farmers, are served immediately and regularly through our Agricultural Extension Service. Other people, such as schoolchildren and business leaders, are served more gradually, but just as surely. Also, we serve on committees for professional organizations and for the University, and we serve as advisors for student organizations. Finally, we serve our community by sharing our expertise in issues of local, state, and national importance.

So a university is a sort of business that produces educated people, knowledge, and service?

Well, that's an interesting way of putting it. I would say that a university is a collection of caring people united in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge.


COSTS AND SOURCES OF FUNDS



That sounds good. But where does the money come from?

Some is tax money, some comes from your sons and daughter's tuition and fees, some comes from private business and individuals, and some is from other sources. Let's look at the budget. These four pie charts show the sources of income for Texas A&M University (see Figures 1 through 4). If you add these amounts up, you see we have a budget of 654 million dollars for the academic year 1997-98. The part that goes to teaching and University-supported research is the Education and General (E&G) part (Figure 1). The general revenues portion of the budget is tax money. You as a parent pay the tuition and lab fees, a little over 19% of the total E&G budget.

What is the "AUF" in Figures 1 and 2?
"AUF" stands for the Available University Fund. This fund is made up of the income from Texas A&M University's 1/3 share of the Permanent University Fund (PUF). The PUF consists of investments and the saved income from the West Texas lands given to the University of Texas by the State of Texas during the nineteenth century and now amounts to several billion dollars. The income from this investment, the AUF, has been shared between Texas A&M University and the University of Texas since 1934.


So that is not tax money, strictly speaking.
Right. Let's go on.

Wait! I see GUF/UAT in Figure 2! Isn't that my money, too?

Yes. That money is the University Authorized Tuition (UAT), formerly known as the General Use Fee (GUF). When the State government converted the GUF into tuition, it also requred the universities to list this income on their designated funds budgets. A little more than half of this money is used to service the debt on University buildings. The rest is used to supplement the E&G budget.

Why don't you just list this with the E&G budget? Are these four accounts all different?

Each of the charts represents a different kind of activity in the university. Figure 1 shows the money spent on the primary objectives of the institution: instruction, research, and public service.

Educational and General (E&G) Budget (Figure 1):



Designated Budget (Figure 2):


The second chart shows money designated by the Board of Regents for specific purposes. Examples are field trip fees, computer access fees, printing center charges, debt service, etc. Many of these budgets are self-supporting, primarily through user fees and sales.

Auxiliary Enterprises Budget (Figure 3):


The third chart covers facilities and services for students, faculty and staff. Examples are residence halls, food services, athletic department, parking, etc. These enterprises are also self-supporting primarily through user fees and sales.

Restricted Budget (Figure 4):


Finally, the fourth chart describes those funds expendable for operating purposes but restricted by donors or other outside agencies as to the specific purposes. These funds are held in local bank accounts, and are self-supporting primarily through gifts, grants, and contracts.

Although these pie charts show you the categories of money spent by the university, they do not give you the specific expenditures. But the budget is really huge - it occupies several volumes available at the Reserve Desk of the Sterling C. Evans Library. I don't have a good summary of the budget expenditures here, but you can look at several excellent summaries when you get home by using your computer to look up the material at these two URLs.

With these words, the professor hands Mr. Johnson a slip containing these two addresses:
http://www-fiscal.tamu.edu/budget/index.html and
http://www-fiscal.tamu.edu/vp/presentations/

Thanks. So let me get out my calculator and do a little figuring. If my kids live off campus, then I'm paying you people UAT, tuition, and lab and other fees. Adding those together, and dividing by the sum of the E&G and Designated Funds budgets, I get that I'm only paying for 27.2% of the cost of my kids' education. Good Lord, I'm on the dole!

I don't think so. The state invests in your daughters' education because it is in the interest of the state to have an educated population and workforce. It makes sense for tax dollars to be used to support the university.

All right, so the money isn't all mine. But this is a mighty expensive enterprise. Surely teaching doesn't have to cost that much?

Correct. It is possible to teach for less. But what sort of a degree would we be granting then?

What do you mean, "What sort of a degree?" The same sort, of course.

Not at all! You see, your daughters came here for more than just a piece of paper. They came for an outstanding education provided by faculty of the highest quality. On top of that, when Kelly and Casey graduate, they will have the benefit of the reputation of this university. We are world-class, and that fact is noticed when our graduates seek jobs. In other words, the fame of the university gives extra value to the degrees awarded to its students.


CULTURAL DIVERSITY




"World-class," hmmm? I know about "world-class." It's another name for cultural diversity, isn't it? Why is the University interested in that?

World-class is not a synonym for cultural diversity, but it does include diversity. If a university wishes to attain world-class status, its faculty and students must understand the divergent cultures that inhabit the world. Diversity of viewpoints and perspectives is crucial to the vitality of a University, assuring a cross-fertilization of ideas and enabling the creation of new knowledge. Cultural diversity reinforces these goals. For both idealistic and practical reasons, a university moving into the twenty-first century must endorse and promote diverse perspectives that might be labeled "multi-cultural." The ideal university welcomes all who bring to it a willing mind and a love of learning. Given the fact that the state, nation, and world are culturally diverse entities, a university that seeks to realize its potential of serving all of its citizens responsibly must be attentive to diverse populations. TAMU prides itself on a faculty that is engaged in cutting-edge research and teaching, and in a number of disciplines the contributions and perspectives of diverse populations must be studied if the truths of history, an understanding of the present, and a preparation for the future are fully to be realized. Texas is and will be a multi-cultural state, with close economic ties to its nearest neighbors, one of which is Mexico. Moreover, Texas A&M already has a cadre of Aggies scattered throughout the world, a reality that will become even more pronounced in the future. Our graduates will enter and work in this globally connected world, whether they make their home in Odessa, Texas or in Beijing, China.


WORLD-CLASS UNIVERSITIES



Well, then, what do you mean by "world-class?"

Most of us want to be the best that we can be at whatever it is we do. Faculty and Universities are no different! Since we live in a global economy it makes sense to measure our abilities against the best the world has to offer, and Texas's premier universities show up well in such measurements. This is world-class. A world-class reputation attracts the best faculty and students and so perpetuates high-quality research and teaching.

World-class also means having a very full range of programs that help educate all our students as widely as possible: to speak the languages spoken around the world, to understand the politics, economics, societies, and cultures they are likely to encounter in their working lives. It means providing a thorough understanding of the science and mathematics that drive our own culture's remarkable success in technology. And it means encouraging students to think for themselves by providing an environment where ideas are challenged by facts and other ideas, rather than by the dead hand of authority.

It would be especially ironic if, in a state that prides itself on being the biggest and the best in so much, anything less than world-class recognition and status were accepted from its premier universities.

So is Texas A&M world-class in everything?

That would not be possible. No institution can be at the top of every ladder. But Texas A&M is genuinely world-class in its traditional focus areas: agriculture, engineering, science, and veterinary medicine. It has achieved world prominence in programs such as underwater archaeology and the study of wavelets and data compression, and its liberal arts faculty are attracting national and international attention. We are alone in being the land grant, sea grant, and space grant institution of the state and we are one of very few in the country with all three designations. We have a state-wide network of experiment stations and facilities aimed at helping those who most need our services.

Then it's really good for Texas and for my kids that Texas A&M is a world-class university. But can't a university be world-class without being a big research university?

There are extremely few world-class universities that are not also strong research universities.

I don't mean to say that research universities are the only worthy ones. The varied institutions of higher education - community colleges, private liberal arts colleges, four-year comprehensive universities, and research universities - have differing roles, and all of these institutions are important. For each a primary aim is the transmission of knowledge and strategies for learning. But that knowledge is discovered primarily at the research universities.


WHY RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES



I'm puzzled. World-class universities are big research universities, and research is done at research universities. But isn't research done anywhere else? What about other colleges?

Certainly, research is done at other colleges. But research is not a major part of those colleges' missions, so ground-breaking research is seldom attempted there. A special role of research universities is to discover new knowledge as well as to spread that knowledge. The research university has a dual purpose: to produce the fundamental new knowledge which will generate scientific, social, economic and cultural progress, and to educate the next generation of teachers, researchers and other professionals, as well as an intelligent and informed citizenry in general.

Faculty at all schools strive to teach current information, reading the current journals and attending meetings to stay abreast of the latest developments. But many libraries cannot subscribe to all of the important journals. Even when the journals are available, they are usually a year and often several years behind current research. Moreover, attending meetings is expensive and is seldom strongly supported by schools devoted primarily to teaching. Thus their faculty often find it hard to stay current.

But teacher-scholars at a research university are gathering knowledge themselves in their research laboratories and libraries. Because these faculty involve their students in the creative process, they impart not only new information but also the joy of discovery, thus fostering critical thinking and analytical skills. Moreover, these faculty are writing the texts for advanced courses, and their students often get involved in this activity as well.

The faculty at a research university have had to prove themselves over and over in the course of many years to be successful researchers. They are given time and incentive to do such research. Indeed, many have achieved world acclaim among workers in their fields for their creative research.

A unique responsibility of research universities is that of educating citizens beyond the undergraduate degree. This graduate education prepares the next generation of professionals, researchers, and teachers, as well as business, political, and community leaders.

Why should research be done at a university? Don't businesses also do research?

Research done in a business setting is usually focused on the specialties of that business. It is often more related to applications of basic discoveries than directed toward making basic discoveries. In fact, many businesses would not exist today if it were not for discoveries made in university laboratories and then applied by businesses.

So you're saying that universities are places where research is done that businesses are generally not willing to pay for?

Essentially, that's right. Although business won't usually pay for basic research, it actually has a very high value. It is just not obvious in what area the value will appear. Mathematicians studied whole numbers, producing the mathematical field of number theory, with no object in mind but to study something that was beautiful and challenging. And until the middle of this century, outside of mathematics the results were little more than that. But now number theory is one of the mainstays of cryptography. Without the centuries of development that went into this subject, cryptography could not offer the security it does today. Nobody would have predicted that even as late as 1940. For another example, Roentgen was studying the conductance of electricity through gasses (a study of no practical value at the time) when he discovered x-rays.

Okay, I see that, but when the government is trying to balance the budget, is this really something we can afford?

Yes, absolutely! Both tangible and intangible benefits derive from the work done at research universities. Here are some tangible benefits:

  • At the national level, university research aids the economy. Discoveries made by university researchers have laid the foundation for modern industries ranging from electronics to plastics, from telecommunications to computers, and from aeronautics to pharmaceuticals and medicine. These cutting-edge enterprises create millions of jobs and contribute over $600 billion per year to the economy.
  • In fiscal year 1995, Texas A&M University injected about $362 million in research spending into the community and the state. Using the State comptroller's multiplier of 2.3 for every $1 in expenditures and 47 jobs for every $1 million, Texas A&M's research expenditures translate to over $800 million and more than 17,000 jobs.


Intangible benefits include:

  • Because of its specialized equipment and talented and trained staff, a research university can easily collaborate with industry to produce additional jobs, revenue, and tax support. Moreover, businesses value close proximity to university libraries because they provide quick access to vital information.


Yeah, that reminds me. I read somewhere that you people spend millions every year on your library. My kids tell me they almost never go there, and even when they do most of what they need is already checked out. Why should we be paying for a library just so professors and business people can get information easily?

You actually asked two questions, "Why do we need a first-rate library?" and "Is our library adequate?" Poor libraries cripple high-quality research and teaching. Research libraries are the repositories of knowledge accumulated over the centuries. Libraries allow scholars, students, and citizens to obtain information - both new and old - speedily and efficiently. Thus, libraries allow us to learn from and build upon the wisdom of past generations. Your daughters would gain immensely from visiting the library regularly. I hope you will urge them to go to the library and browse even when they do not have assignments that require its use.

The other question implicit in yours is "Is the Texas A&M library adequate?" Sadly, the answer is that it is not. While the library is making headway, its resources lag behind those of its peers at other large research universities. The current University administration has committed millions of new dollars to the library budget. However, books and journals are expensive, and great collections of breadth and depth are built only by sustained commitment over decades. Further, the rapid advance of electronic storage of information is forcing a radical change in the structure and operation of libraries. These changes are also expensive. A lasting commitment to library excellence is required, and we continue to seek more money for its growth and development.


TEACHING



I see. I've told Kelly and Casey over and over again to use the library more. I'm glad to hear that you agree.
But let's get back to teaching. Do my kids get any direct advantage from the faculty being involved in research?


Yes. First, recall that research faculty are involved in discovering knowledge in their area of expertise. When faculty communicate their discoveries to their students, the classroom can become a center of excitement where students become deeply involved in understanding how knowledge is produced and tested.

Faculty who actively expand knowledge through research are themselves students in their fields: they continuously change what and how they teach to reflect their discoveries. Because they are continually learning themselves, they tend to expect more of their students, setting high standards and pushing students to greater effort. The students discover they can do more than they ever thought they could.

The faculty often have grants which support graduate students, high quality equipment, and resources used in laboratories and classrooms. Also, they are part of international networks of professionals who visit campuses as expert speakers and who can further the careers of graduates by giving them advice and job recommendations. Some of these speakers are world leaders in their fields of study. Just meeting and learning from such a person can be a life-changing experience for a student.

I should say, though, that not all students will find research universities suited to their goals or learning styles. High achieving and self-motivated students are more likely to succeed in a research environment.

OFFICE HOURS



But what about professors being available to their students? My kids say they go to see their professors all the time, but they're hardly ever there.

My answer to this question has to have two parts. If your daughters mean that they have gone to a professor's office during office hours and the professor is usually not there, then there is a serious problem. Each of us is expected to set office hours and to be there at those times. Professors who are not meeting this obligation should be reported to the Head of the Department by the students.

But at other times? Faculty members are paid to read and write and think and talk. These activities do not require them to be in their offices all day, every day. In fact, sometimes the office is not conducive to such work. Faculty members not in their offices during normal working hours may have night classes and need the time for preparation at home, away from phones and interruptions. They may be in the library, or may have worked until 2 a.m. in the lab on a research project, or may be grading term papers. Or perhaps the previous weekend they presented a research paper at a professional conference. All of these activities are proper parts of the professors' jobs.

Office hours are typically used by students to discuss material not understood in class, to discuss specific paper or project assignments, and simply to talk informally with professors about academic, professional, or personal matters. The claim sometimes heard that professors are rarely available to their students as a group usually ignores the many unscheduled hours of contact with individual students that occur before and after classes, in laboratories, and during unscheduled office hours. Professors often meet with students during non-scheduled times to accommodate working students' schedules. They also talk with students by telephone and e-mail. Moreover, many professors spend extra time with students by sponsoring student organizations and by counselling them (e.g., through the MENTOR program).

Well, aside from that, how do you use time that you see as teaching time? I do understand that preparation for class takes some time.

The schedule of an individual professor depends on the particular classes being taught. For example, that professor may meet with a graduate class for a long session once per week and with undergraduate classes three times per week. In addition to many hours spent in class preparation, many professors spend additional, unscheduled time supervising independent study students, graduate students, and beginning teaching assistants. Students usually need increasing amounts of individual time with professors as they become more advanced. Doctoral students learn to do research by doing it, aided and advised by their thesis supervisors. Thus, during the last year of a PhD student's study, the time spent with a student's advisor may increase to many hours per week. For example, the professor in the office next door spends several hours each evening and several more on Sunday afternoon with one of his advanced PhD students. His is a common case.

I see there is a lot more teaching going on here than meets the eye.


WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO GRADUATE?



I want to ask you something that I'm pretty hot about. Kelly is a senior but she still has another year to go before she graduates. I didn't plan on spending this extra money. Why don't students here at Texas A&M complete their degrees in four years?

Some students do complete their degrees in the traditional four-year period. It is not impossible to graduate within four years, but it has become less common. I can't speak to the particulars of Kelly's experience here, but major reasons students are taking longer to graduate include:
  • Approximately 70% of the students at Texas A&M University change their major subject at least once during their undergraduate years. When students change majors or take courses not required to graduate, they extend their time in school.
  • On average, students must complete 32 credits per year (about 16 credits per semester) to graduate in a four-year period. But increasing numbers of working students take fewer credit hours. Many of them have opted for a 12 to 13 credit load.
  • Increasing numbers of students are taking one or more semesters out of school to participate in job internship or cooperative education programs designed to give them direct experience in their major subject. In such cases, students choose to slow progress towards their degrees in order to gain valuable experience that will help them find superior jobs after graduation.
  • Many Texas A&M students also take advantage of leadership opportunities outside the classroom. The university has more than 800 student organizations that provide opportunities for hands-on leadership training.
  • Students who plan to attend professional or graduate school may drop courses in which they are earning low grades in order to ensure a high grade point average. Other students may drop courses because they are having difficulty passing and need to retake them. In either case, progress to graduation is slowed.
  • Inadequately prepared students must take additional courses to get them ready for classes here. Although these courses do not count toward graduation, they necessarily add to the time the students take toward graduation.
  • Shrinking state support for public universities and land-grant colleges nationwide has led to shrinking numbers of faculty, higher tuition and fees, and an increase in student requests for financial aid (89% in 1996). Growing numbers of students at public research universities are working while attending college.
    NEEDED: Statistics on support; on # of students working at TAMU. Ask Bob Kennedy for these numbers.


Yeah. Kelly switched majors two years ago. So I guess it's not all just one simple problem that can be legislated away?

No. Actually we are very concerned about moves made in the Legislature to limit the number of credits a student may be required to take toward graduation. Depending on how such a bill is worded, the result could reduce the quality of a student's education, financially punish the student for factors out of his or her control, or even keep the student from graduating at all.

I guess we could say you think students here are being well-educated and prepared for their post-graduation goals?

You bet! Texas A&M students have ranked their experience high compared to students graduating from other U.S. universities. We are told by those who employ our students and use our research that we are very successful at producing people with the skills needed in agriculture, in all sorts of industries, in business, and in teaching. Indeed, the large number of extracurricular and internship opportunities here give our students an advantage when they compete for post-graduate jobs and graduate school openings.


WHY ARE CLASSES SO LARGE?



My kids both complain that freshman and sophomore classes are too big. Casey was just talking to me this morning about it. She said one class is so huge that her professor is just a dot in the front of the room. Why are some Texas A&M classes so large?

A dot? Surely she is jesting. But, yes, some course sections are very large. Introductory courses often present basic information that can be communicated adequately, if not perfectly, in a large classroom setting. A large student-to-teacher ratio in the introductory courses permits departments to limit the sizes of more advanced, upper-division courses that cannot be taught without more individual interaction in the classroom.

Well then, why doesn't each professor just teach more classes?

We could, but if we did, the character of the university would change. A decision was made many years ago to make Texas A&M University one of the great research universities. Our efforts have been successfully directed toward this goal for several decades, and as a result we are already ranked among the top 10 research universities of the United States in several subjects.

It would certainly be possible to reverse our direction and become a school devoted primarily to teaching. Our best researchers would probably leave, and the international reputation we have gained would evaporate. Should we do that? We believe not.

Okay, how about just shrinking the number of students here at A&M?

Well, we are already turning away thousands of students each year who are qualified and want to attend Texas A&M University. Should we turn away still more? We believe we should keep class sizes at the maximum possible given our responsibility to teach well, thus turning away as few students as possible consistent with that goal.


CLASS AVAILABILITY AND COURSES TAKEN AT OTHER COLLEGES



Casey is talking about taking some courses at Blinn College, and others here at TAMU at the same time. Why would she want to do that?

We have a few basic courses that are in such demand that students cannot find an open seat in them at TAMU. In such cases, if the course is offered at Blinn, it is reasonable to take the course there.

Why don't you just open up more sections?

It costs a lot of money to open a section, and you'll recall that the students' tuition and fees don't cover much of that cost. Until this year, the Legislature has been effectively cutting resources to the universities and colleges of Texas by giving increases that didn't match inflation. The result is that we cannot open more sections.

What about students taking courses at other schools when you do have openings? I've heard that happens.

Many students return home during the summer and can save money by taking courses at local colleges while living with their families. But not all students study elsewhere for that reason. We've asked them why they opt for junior or community college credit in courses where we have openings. They have pointed out that the content of courses and the level of performance at other schools typically are believed to be less demanding than they are at TAMU. Moreover, the Common Course Numbering System guarantees that they can transfer the credit to TAMU. So some students take courses they consider difficult, such as science, mathematics and foreign languages, at colleges where they believe they will face less competition and less expensive tuition and fees.

We do not believe that searching out less demanding courses is in the best interests of the students. Because of the large number of people seeking to become students at Texas A&M University, our average student is significantly better than the average at most other colleges and universities. To serve these uncommonly good students, we have set the level of rigor in our courses above that in similar courses elsewhere. Thus, although those of our students who take a course elsewhere receive excellent teaching, they do not get as much from the course as they would at Texas A&M University. Unfortunately, by State law we have little control over where our students take their courses.


WHY DO YOU USE GRADUATE STUDENTS TO TEACH?



Another thing my kids told me this morning is that they have had several teachers who are actually graduate students. Why don't you use tenured faculty instead of graduate students in front of these classes?

To do that, we would have to hire many more professors. But it is not necessary. For many purposes and reasons, graduate students make excellent teachers.

But let me begin at the beginning. First, we use graduate students in several capacities, thus giving them an opportunity to earn their way through school. It is very rare for a parent to continue to support a son or daughter in graduate school.

The most common uses of a graduate student are as a research assistant, (occasionally) as a grader, or as a teaching assistant in the laboratory. The research assistant helps the professor do research and is usually paid from grant money. The grader's job is to grade homework and to help grade tests under the direct supervision of the professor. These two do not interact with the students. The laboratory assistant does interact with students. To understand this person's job, you need to know that many lower division courses are made up of two parts. First, there is the lecture, given three or so hours per week by a skilled specialist in the field, such as a tenured professor or specialized lecturer. For the second part, the students will gather in smaller groups in laboratory sections, each usually led by a graduate student. This person's job is to help the students understand the lessons given in lecture, and to guide the students in carrying out experiments and setting up and using laboratory equipment. The laboratory assistant meets regularly with the professor for guidance. About 71% of freshman and sophomore laboratory sections, and about 38% of junior and senior labs, were taught by graduate students in Fall, 1995.

But don't graduate students sometimes actually teach?

Yes. More advanced graduate students are sometimes used as lecturers. This is a more responsible position, since the lecturer usually prepares the lessons, often makes up the tests that are given, and assigns the grades at the end of the term. But this responsibility is not given lightly, and supervision by experienced faculty is regularly given. In fact, we are very proud of our graduate students' teaching. They are closer to the undergraduates in age than most of the faculty, and closer in immediate life experience, since they are still students themselves. These factors often prove to be a real advantage for the undergraduates who have the graduate student instructors, since they can more easily communicate with each other. In Fall, 1995, about 14% of freshman and sophomore lecture classes, and about 6% of junior and senior classes, were taught by graduate student lecturers.

Graduate students are used as lecturers only near the end of their graduate training. These men and women are brilliant, able, and well trained. Most have already taken all of the courses they need to graduate and are working on other aspects of their degrees. As teachers to an undergraduate student audience, they function as cost-effective supplements to the efforts of faculty. This service saves the taxpayers millions of dollars each year. It should be noted that many of our teaching assistants have been honored for their excellence and classroom contributions. A formal program of teaching assistant recognition has been in place at TAMU for the past several years. Because of this sort of training at the nation's graduate institutions, even new faculty are experienced teachers.


WHY FOREIGN GRADUATE STUDENTS TEACH



Okay, so graduate students are good teachers. But a lot of them are foreigners. You can't tell me it's good for my kids to wade through a hard subject and a foreigner's crummy English at the same time!

Let's distinguish between an accent and poor English. Those graduate students whose native language is not English must pass the "Test of English as a Foreign Language" (a national exam) before being admitted to the University. In addition they must pass a second, more difficult set of tests, the English Language Proficiency Exam, before they are allowed to teach. The exam is administered by the Measurement and Research Services Office of the University; a passing score requires a minimum grade of 80% on each section of the exam.

Interacting with these foreign teachers is good for our students. Texas A&M graduates often work for companies with branches in foreign countries. It is common for recruiters to express a preference for hiring university graduates who can work in a multinational environment because of the increasingly global nature of the work place. Early contact with international students gives our young people a chance to understand cultures they may be working with in their professional futures.

In other words, my kids are getting twofers? They're getting taught some subject and at the same time they're learning how to get along with the sort of people they'll be working with later?

Exactly!

But Casey was complaining just this morning about a lab instructor. This character has such a thick accent that he can't be understood. Are you saying Casey's wrong?

Not necessarily. This is a huge enterprise, and problems do sometimes slip through the cracks. Although we diligently check on the teaching of our faculty, and especially of our teaching graduate students, we also depend on our students and their parents, like you, to let us know about problems. If Casey's teacher speaks English so badly that his students cannot understand him, please let the head of that teacher's department know about it. I assure you that the problem will be investigated and action taken if it is needed. This has happened before, and we will act quickly if it happens again. But if Casey is just griping about a hard course being taught by a person with an accent, I hope you will understand that no action should be taken. In any case, we will visit the teacher's class and talk with other students in the class before we take action.

That's fair.

Let me summarize the matter of using graduate students as teachers: The use of qualified teaching assistants to supplement available faculty permits considerable cost savings to the taxpayers of the state and thus to our students, provides supervised training for graduate students as teachers, and provides the undergraduates with instructors who enhance their educational experience.

I'm mighty proud of Kelly! She's planning to go to graduate school after graduating next May.

Great!


GRADUATE PROGRAMS - WHY DO THEY EXIST?



Yeah. She'll be the first one in our family to get a graduate degree. But this is all Kelly's idea, and I don't really understand what she's getting into. Tell me about graduate studies.

Graduate programs exist because there are many fields for which a successful career requires more than four years of study beyond high school. Graduate programs produce well-educated professionals who contribute much to society and the economy. Further, they create an atmosphere in which undergraduates learn from the advanced work going on around them, and benefit from the increased value of a degree from a higher ranking university.

The importance of graduate study to Texas A&M University was recognized early in its history. Texas A&M University, the state's first public institution of higher education, opened for classes in 1876. In 1888, twelve years after the opening, the faculty began programs of instruction at the graduate level. By 1936 the Board of Directors had approved programs of study and research leading to the doctorate. In the 1960's the Board of Regents approved changes that resulted in graduate programs in all of the academic colleges of the University. Our land, sea, and space grant designations and the advantages they bring would not have been possible without the development of strong graduate programs.


GRADUATE PROGRAMS - WHAT'S INVOLVED FOR THE GRADUATE STUDENT?



That's all very interesting, but I really wanted to know what Kelly's getting into and what use graduate studies will be to her.

At the beginning, graduate studies seem quite similar to undergraduate studies. The student takes more classes, and gets a deeper understanding of the subject. In some programs, this kind of study eventually culminates in the "qualifying" or "preliminary" examinations, which are long and thorough exams, usually written, covering everything the student is supposed to know by then. Many professors say that they knew more about their subject at the time of their qualifying exams than any time before or since. At this stage the student may stop with a master's degree.

However, there are other programs in which the further courses are capped by the writing of a research thesis instead of qualifying exams. This thesis must show that the student has learned scholarship at a professional level.

Remember, Kelly wants a PhD degree.

The PhD studies are much more intense. A professor spends hours with a PhD student discussing the student's work and guiding the student toward the sort of professionalism that characterizes the well-trained professor.

This is the time when the student learns to do research. Even students who have done research before embarking on a PhD program gain enormously in the depth of their understanding of how to choose problems, extend the questions originally asked as evidence comes in, and build a research program.

We will talk at length about research, but in brief, research is the process of studying a question whose answer is not known and developing a response to the question. The culmination of successful research is a well-developed theory that answers the original question, and often more besides, and it raises new questions that are worth studying.

There is a significant danger to the student at this stage. Research is publishable only if it is new, and a degree is granted only for successfully completed publishable research. There are many cases on record of graduate students whose research projects failed - no useful answer to the initial question was found, or one was found but it was anticipated by another researcher someplace else. In such cases the student's research project must be scrapped and the student starts over with a new research project.

The studies for the PhD degree would typically average 4 to 7 years beyond the baccalaureate degree. The new PhD can then seek a job in industry or government, or at a college or university.


SUPPORTING GRADUATE STUDENTS



I can't afford to support Kelly for that many more years. With Casey in school and graduate tuition the way it is, I'd go broke.

You and most other parents. That is one of the reasons we employ graduate students as lab assistants, research assistants, and lecturers as we discussed before. This gives them income and relieves the burden on their parents. Of course, we don't have unlimited funds to support these students, so we offer low salaries; but we offer enough that, with prudent spending, they can usually make it through their studies without going too far into debt.

Do you really think Kelly should go for a graduate degree here?

You bet, provided she is an extraordinary and talented student. Taxpayers of Texas find that the reputation of the University to which they send their sons and daughters is based upon the ranking of that institution's graduate research programs. The activities of graduate students benefit all of the university community. The graduate students who are now conducting research independently or jointly with faculty will be the leaders in their fields of study in a few years and many of them will be the professors for the next generation of students. Their work will ultimately benefit our economy and our entire society.


THE IMPORTANCE OF GRADUATE STUDIES



Kelly's aiming to be a professor, but does a professor's work have practical applications outside of a university, besides producing trained people?

Definitely! The investments made in research and graduate programs today drive the technological developments of tomorrow. The impact of the semiconductor integrated circuit industry on the economies of Austin and Dallas provides a current example to the taxpayers of Texas. In this industry ideas and concepts developed by university graduate research now provide the state with tens of thousands of skilled jobs. In fact, ten chief executives of small, high-technology companies in Texas, in a 1995 letter to members of Congress, wrote, "Our University system and its research programs play a central and critical role in advancing our state of knowledge. Without adequate federal support, University research efforts will quickly erode. American industry will then cease to have access to the basic technologies and well-educated scientists and engineers that have served American interests so well."

At the national level, twenty chief executives of major US corporations, in an open letter to President Clinton reprinted in USA Today, April 24, 1996, stated, "Our universities, and the research programs pursued therein, have played a pivotal role in continually advancing our technical knowledge. Equally important, they have produced the very scientists and engineers that allow American industry to compete with nations and cultures throughout the world. The standard of living we enjoy today has, in large part, been made possible by our ingenuity and creativeness and our ability to continually advance and apply technology."

In short, it is essential for the economic health of our state and nation that we continue to promote strong university research and graduate programs. These are the educational seed corn for our future. Kelly, as a professor, will be part of the source of that future.


ON RESEARCH



Okay, so say Kelly becomes a professor. Besides teaching, what will be her job?

In addition to teaching, all faculty are expected to devote some of their time to both research and service. Each of these is a broad category of activities that consume the time and energy of all faculty members in varying amounts, depending on their stages of career development and assigned jobs. Individuals may spend one part of their career emphasizing research and another emphasizing service, particularly if they rise to leadership positions within their universities or professional fields.

You sort of described research before, but I'd like to know more about it. What is research?

Research is continued learning that leads to the creation of new knowledge. Faculty learn how to conduct research in graduate school, then apply those skills throughout their careers. Research activities include:
  • Conducting research projects, often in collaboration with students or colleagues.
  • Teaching research skills to students and supervising student research projects.
  • Traveling to gather data, consult with experts, or attend professional meetings.
  • Publishing the new results in professional journals and books.
Research distinguishes Texas A&M from universities that do not grant advanced degrees. It is essential to keeping faculty and students on the cutting edge of knowledge.


GRANTS



But who pays for research?

Most research is supported by grants and contracts, outside funds that faculty secure for the university. However, some research is supported by the University itself, and some is even self-supported by faculty members during unpaid summer terms.

How would Kelly get grants?

Private and government agencies issue regular requests for grant proposals. In response, faculty write proposals, a job that often requires a month or more of hard work, and submit them to granting agencies. Some are for specific, well defined tasks, others for more general scholarly investigations in a faculty member's area of expertise. Because these are often national competitions, only 10 to 20% in some fields, and on the average only about 25%, of all proposals are successful.

What does a grant cover?

Research funds purchase equipment and supplies, travel, some summer salary support for faculty members (who are typically only paid nine months teaching salaries by the State), financial support for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who participate in the grant project, and "overhead costs" which reimburse the University for the use of its rooms, supplies, and staff and for its administrative support for the project. Approximately $24.6 million of external grant funds support students and post-doctoral fellows. Approximately 5.1% of the funds are overhead costs which go to the University's general fund.

Some grants allow faculty to devote full time to research for a period, or to study at institutions with special resources unavailable at Texas A&M.


Are external grants important to the University?

External grant funds provide much needed additional resources to enhance the educational experience at the University. Such funds are essential to the graduate programs and also have a large impact on the undergraduate programs. These funds provide state-of-the-art equipment and financial support which enable many Texas A&M students to obtain highly advanced training in their chosen fields. The work accomplished using these grants also contributes greatly to the scholarly reputation of Texas A&M University.

Who looks after all this money?

The faculty member designated as principal investigator on a grant has signature authority on all grant expenditures. Oversight and accounting for all expenditures is provided by the University, the Texas A&M Research Foundation, or the Texas Agricultural and Engineering Experiment Stations. These entities assure that all disbursements of funds are handled in accordance with the policies of the granting agencies. Grants and activities of the recipients of grants are routinely audited for compliance with University and State guidelines.

Do you have to get grants to be promoted and tenured?

Sometimes, and sometimes not. The importance attached to having external grants will vary according to field of study within the University, and even according to a faculty member's area of responsibility within an individual department. Grants are more essential for faculty in areas where laboratories or other special facilities are needed in order for them to do their research.

External grants are typically awarded after extensive peer review. The receipt and successful use of such grants provides additional evidence of the motivation, abilities and stature of the faculty members in their areas of study. This information is one of the things used in reviewing faculty members for raises, promotion, and tenure.


MEASURING RESEARCH



But surely you don't depend just on other people like granting agencies to measure your research. How do you do it?

You are right; we use many different factors. Quality and amount of research are measured by publications, dollar value of grants, patents won, showings in galleries, performances, architecture awards, number of references to one's work, invitations to speak at conferences and colloquiums, honors and awards, and invited memberships in prestigious societies. At the times of tenure and promotion consideration, and occasionally at other times, experts in the same field are asked to write letters assessing the research of a faculty member.

Many A&M faculty have published books that are used and cited around the world. Others have achieved technological breakthroughs that have increased productivity and competitiveness in engineering, agriculture, and numerous other fields. Research and publication are the key determinants of a university's national and world reputation, for they demonstrate faculty quality to an audience beyond the campus of Texas A&M and the state of Texas.


THE PURPOSES OF TENURE



Let's get on to tenure. Kelly's talked about getting tenure after making professor. I thought it was just one of the perks you people get. But you have said that the purpose of tenure is the management of risk. This sounds scary. What has risk got to do with tenure?

Like everybody else, professors want to support their families, educate their children, and provide for their future. They will not foolishly risk their livelihood for mere curiosity. But there is a public need for the study of questions raised by curiosity. The public need is for people of proven ability at solving problems to attack new ones - problems whose solutions are both needed and completely unknown. We have hired precisely those people to staff our major research universities, including Texas A&M, and we must provide them with the assurance that exploring tough questions will not result in job loss. Tenure is that assurance.

But why would doing the job you're hired to do cause you to lose the job?

There is no point in studying problems whose solutions are already known, and not much value in studying those whose solutions are easily guessed. But if we start to study a problem whose answer is unguessable, we might not like what we discover. Darwin's discovery of evolution was and remains highly controversial, and it is not what he hoped to find when he embarked on his voyage of discovery. But without his work, we would not be seeking gene therapies right now. And consider the case of Professor Samuel Herrick of UCLA. In the 1940's, he wrote both professional and popular articles on space flight. Because space flight was seen as a childish fantasy at that time, his work was a considerable embarrassment to the university faculty and administration. Without tenure, he probably would have carried out other, less controversial, investigations or he would have been fired, and his work would have been lost to the world. As it was, his promotion to full professor was long delayed. But by the mid 1950's, he was widely recognized as a pioneer in the field. His work led directly to our present highly active space program, including the valuable Hubble telescope and weather and communication satellites.

Are the only dangers in research that you might appear foolish or not like the answers?

Not at all! A professor might spend months or even years studying a subject and mastering a problem, only to have some other person publish a similar result first. Problems worth studying are known to everybody, and newly discovered methods of study become tools for the whole community. Many of us have lost credit for work for just this reason. But to the outside world, a researcher who works for years on a problem, only to have somebody else publish first, has done nothing for years.


TENURE AND TEACHING



But of course teaching is not so risky, don't you think?

As Prof. James E. Perley said in The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 1997, "What kind of courage [does it take] to instill a suitable skepticism in students?" Our job is to open the minds of our students, and this cannot be done without challenging them with new and sometimes unpalatable ideas.

Even discussing controversial subjects in the classroom can lead to problems. In the 1950's, the philosophy professor who discussed Marxism with students was at risk. A law professor who wants to show that some aspects of the McVeigh trial were unfair might have troubles now.

Also, consider the time it takes to write a textbook. A well-written text will usually take several years to write. The professor prepares and teaches courses, takes care of assigned service work, and then goes off and works as much as 5 or 10 hours a day writing the book. The risk is that when the book is done, it may not be accepted by colleagues as a ground-breaking contribution to the field.

Did you say "years" to write a book? If I had an employee who figured to spend years lazing around, he'd be long gone.

Most businesses would not tolerate a person whose record showed huge amounts of time spent on unsuccessful research, or time spent on work that seems unimportant or unpalatable, or on writing a book that does not sell. Yet this is precisely the type of work that achieves the big breakthroughs. It is no accident that most such work is done, and most such breakthroughs occur, at research universities. There the climate is right, assuming the faculty have tenure.

Wise faculty members would not go so far as to risk their jobs by doing research or writing books that could result in nothing. But curiosity and the desire to teach are strong driving forces, and experience has shown that faculty members will risk their next few raises, and even their next promotion, to satisfy these needs. Tenure limits their risk.

So tenure is a way of helping you keep your jobs while you take chances that we want you to take. But business people take chances every day - starting new businesses, changing product lines, and so on. Believe me, that's plenty risky! We don't get any special protection. Why should you?

The up side for starting a new business or changing product lines is unlimited. You are indeed taking a chance, but you might make a fortune, too.

The up side for a professor is much smaller. For most of us, success brings a promotion a little sooner, or a better than average raise. These things are pleasant, but they are not enough to cause somebody to risk a job to win them. That's why we need tenure.

Yeah, but if your boss told you to do research or lose your job, you'd do research.

Yes, sir, that is correct. But there are levels of difficulty and importance in research. Each of us knows of problems to which we do not know the answers but for which we are certain how to find those answers. Some of these problems would result in publishable, albeit routine, papers. This sort of problem makes a good exercise for a PhD student. The student can work out the answer and get the thrill of searching the unknown and the satisfaction of publishing a paper. We use these problems this way. But this sort of problem is not going to lead to any breakthroughs. These are merely safe problems.

Given a choice between taking the risk of losing their jobs because they studied vital questions without tenure, or ensuring those jobs with routine research, many researchers would opt for the sure thing. The public's need for risky research would not be satisfied.

But I thought tenure was for the protection of academic freedom.

Right, and that is what I've been describing. There is no academic freedom if one's job can be lost for pursuing hard or unpopular questions and ideas. The risk is in the pursuit; if it extends to the possibility of the loss of the job, academic freedom disappears.


THE MEANING, PURPOSE, AND ACQUISITION OF TENURE



So exactly what are the meaning and purpose of tenure?

Tenure means that a faculty member has earned a secure position on a university faculty, but it does not prevent dismissal for poor performance. Its purpose is to protect academic freedom, the freedom to pursue original research, and the freedom to study ideas that are new, unpopular or misunderstood. Such freedom of thought benefits society by encouraging innovation, independent analysis, and creativity.

Alexander W. Astin, in the March/April 1993 issue of Change (Volume 25, number 2, page 49) said, "One thing that we tend to forget about academic freedom is that it is not merely an end in itself but that it has a larger purpose: the pursuit of truth. The link between academic freedom and the pursuit of knowledge is often overlooked ..., but the underlying logic is really very simple: the quickest and surest way to the truth is to encourage the expression of diverse points of view and to promote active discussion and debate of these different views. This is really what academic freedom is all about."

Tenure has developed over hundreds of years, and forms the foundation of the modern university in Western society. Its value in encouraging new generations of scholars and sustaining the quest for knowledge should not be taken lightly.

Former Harvard University Dean Henry Rosovsky describes tenure as a social contract in which professors achieve job security by accepting lower pay than their education, talents, and initiative would command in other fields. Faculty members have the talent and amount of time invested in their own education that would tend to make them very successful business people, lawyers, and doctors - people who make much more money than the average faculty member. Our faculty have chosen not to take that course, but instead have accepted the safety of tenure in order to seek and publish answers to difficult and unpopular questions.

Well, if tenure is not an automatic perk of being a professor, how does a person achieve it?

A doctoral degree, which typically requires from nine to twelve years of university study, is required for most university teaching positions. Chosen from perhaps hundreds of applicants in a highly competitive process, a new faculty member enters the tenure track, a seven-year developmental period during which progress is monitored annually by peers and administrators.

In the first six years the new faculty member must receive favorable student and peer evaluations of teaching, and must publish research in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, or produce equivalent peer-reviewed creative work.

In the sixth year, overall performance is reviewed by faculty peers, external reviewers from other universities or industry, department heads, deans, and ultimately the Provost and President, who may recommend to the Board of Regents that tenure be granted. The Board usually grants tenure upon this recommendation effective in the seventh year. Thus, when tenure is granted, the faculty member has devoted sixteen or more years of effort to achieve that status. Slightly more than one-half of those hired into the tenure track at Texas A&M actually receive tenure.

The rigor of this process of evaluation ensures that tenured faculty are prepared to remain a highly productive group for the balance of their careers.

So that's what you meant by "people of proven ability to solve problems." But what happens to the people who don't get tenure?

Some go into industry, some go to other, usually less stringent, schools and start the tenuring process again, and some change their fields of study.


REMOVING UNPRODUCTIVE TENURED FACULTY



Okay, so tenure is hard to get. But everybody knows that once you have it, you're set for life, right?

No, the security of tenure may be forfeited if a faculty member is later found through due process to have become incompetent, or to be guilty of moral turpitude. Moreover, a faculty member who relaxes and quits doing the hard work that earned tenure will quickly become so far behind current work in his or her field that he or she will become effectively incompetent. But long before such incompetence manifests itself, this sort of faculty member is pressured to either improve or find other employment.

What sort of pressure is used?

In addition to a department head simply talking to the faculty member about the problem, the pressure includes assignments to teach less desirable courses, and small or no pay raises (a powerful incentive in a time of inflation). Inevitably, the colleagues of an underperforming faculty member know about it; the resulting peer pressure is intense. In the face of these pressures, most faculty will either improve or move on to another, less demanding, job. During the five years from Fall 1991 to Fall 1996 (excluding Medicine and Galveston), about 5% of our tenured faculty moved to other institutions. Many were people who were wooed away from us and whom we did not want to lose, but some were those whose willingness to work to justify their tenure has evaporated. We work very hard to replace all of these former faculty members with stronger people, thus increasing competition within their departments.

Why not just fire the person? This "pressure" business could take years.

We have a huge investment in each tenured professor. Moreover, in many fields these people are irreplaceable - one may be the only person working on a problem of importance to us, or one of so few that attracting another here is unlikely. So if an unproductive faculty member can be rehabilitated, even if it takes several years, the University and the public it serves come out ahead. Firing faculty is, as it should be, reserved for the hopeless cases and for those whose behavior is completely unacceptable. Firing is done carefully and with many safeguards, for firing a faculy member damages programs in ways that cannot be repaired, but it does occur.


SERVICE



You've mentioned service a couple of times. Just what is service?

Service is non-teaching, non-research, job-related work. Many service activities support the internal functions and governance of the university. These include:

  • Advising and counseling students.
  • Sponsoring, advising, or speaking to student organizations.
  • Chairing and participating on student admissions committees.
  • Writing letters of recommendation for students and colleagues.
  • Supervising the development of new courses and programs.
  • Participating in hiring new colleagues.
  • Serving on tenure and promotion committees for colleagues.
  • Holding elective offices on a department Executive Committee or the Faculty Senate.
  • Holding administrative positions, such as supervising a department's graduate program or a research center.
  • Serving on state, regional, or national professional organizations.


Is service restricted to university activities?

No. As befits a nationally ranked university, much service takes faculty beyond the campus. These activities include:
  • Serving on editorial boards of journals and scholarly publishers;
  • Evaluating research proposals;
  • Evaluating papers for publication;
  • Holding offices in state, national and international professional organizations;
  • Sharing knowledge with farmers and ranchers, businesspeople, educators, and other members of the general public.



SHARED GOVERNANCE



You mentioned "governance" of the university. Is that the same thing as "shared governance" that I've heard about?

Yes. Briefly defined, "shared governance" means that the administration and faculty engage in a joint effort in governing the university. Thus faculty (through the Faculty Senate and various committees on which faculty serve) have a meaningful role and voice in determining the institution's curricular issues; longe-range plans; use of physical resources; budgeting priorities; selection of the university's officers; and all other aspects of life related to the educational process. Here are some specific examples of the sorts of activities included in shared governance:

As professionals, university faculty bear primary responsibility for choosing new faculty, evaluating colleagues for promotion, tenure, and salary increases, and overseeing university regulations.

Faculty are also responsible for the curriculum, creating new courses, deleting outdated ones, and minimizing course overlap. Sometimes this means creating a whole new program, such as the George Bush School of Government.

Faculty serve on a network of permanent committees at each level - department, college, and university - to keep the university machinery running smoothly and ensure the quality of the students and curriculum.

This service commitment is perhaps the least visible of faculty efforts, yet it can consume as much time as teaching or research.


FACULTY WORK LOAD



You're beginning to make this sound like an interesting job. But it also sounds like you've got too much to do. How many hours a week do faculty members work and how do they spend their time?

Surveys and other studies over the last three decades have consistently concluded that faculty members work between 45 and 55 hours per week, with most estimates on the high side of this range. Work load studies show that teaching activities take 40-50% of the time, research takes 25-35%, and professional and community service and administration take up the rest.

Of course, averages do not tell us about individual cases. Faculty members have many different roles and emphasize different aspects of their jobs at different points in their careers. Sometimes a grant for an important and time-restricted piece of research requires that more time be put on research. Sometimes teaching is paramount because of a pause in research funding or project timing or maybe just because it is important to the department that someone take on a particular teaching challenge. Service comes to the fore for some faculty because of opportunities for leadership in faculty governance or in professional associations. Typically, though, every faculty member spends time weekly in teaching, research, and service activities.


FACULTY PAY



My shop takes about the same amount of my time. Anyhow, I like the idea of Kelly working hard. A lot of kids today are too soft. But hard work deserves pay. How are starting salaries determined?

For new faculty, market demand is the major factor. To recruit effectively, the university must consider salaries paid in private industry and other forms of non-university employment. Since these salaries vary widely depending on the field or academic specialty, the initial salaries of Assistant Professors are more than twice as high in some areas, such as engineering or business administration, as in others, such as liberal arts or education. Moreover, as important fields of study emerge with few individuals in those fields, and as universities seek to diversify their faculties to serve all student groups, competition intensifies. This competition typically results in higher salaries for widely-sought individuals. Because universities are widely believed to offer better employment security and a higher quality of life in the workplace, faculty salaries are generally lower than those in private industry and in the non-academic public sector for comparably skilled people.

And later?

Salary increases depend upon revenues appropriated by the Legislature or student fee increases approved by the Board of Regents. Although the Legislature sometimes provides cost-of-living raises for all state employees, most faculty salary increases are awarded on the basis of individual merit. Annual reviews of both tenured and untenured faculty are given to assess an individual's accomplishments in teaching, research, and service. The results determine merit increases. For example, if funds are sufficient to provide an average raise of three percent, actual awards may range from zero to six or eight per cent, depending on performance. Since cost-of-living raises are uncommon at state universities, raises given only for merit are a powerful incentive not to relax after gaining tenure.

That's all the questions I have now, Professor. Thanks for taking so much time with me.

I was pleased to be able to talk with you. These questions are frequently asked, and we faculty don't have many opportunities to give answers to them. Please pass on what I've said to your friends and family. And if you have more questions later, feel free to stop by and talk with me about them.

Thanks. I will.


To comment on this, please send e-mail to hobbs@math.tamu.edu

Click here to return to Arthur Hobbs' home page.

MEMBERS OF COMMITTEES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS WORK


These papers are the work of a very large number of people, as listed below. The amount of work done by an individual is not related to the number of committees that individual may have been on. Rather, all of the people listed spent many hours producing the answers you have before you.

[This list is as complete as I could make it, but I started it long after the project began and some individuals may have been inadvertantly omitted. If you know of an omission, please let me know about it.
Arthur M. Hobbs, e-mail hobbs@math.tamu.edu ]


Organizer:

Arthur M. Hobbs (Mathematics)


Initiating Committee:
The Legislative Affairs Sub-Committee of The Planning Committee of the Faculty Senate

Thomas R. Lalk (Mechanical Engineering) (CHAIR)
Arthur M. Hobbs (Mathematics)
Michael S. Poole (Speech Communication)
John Slattery (Chemical Engineering)


Planning Committee of the Faculty Senate (1995-96):

Ted F. Anthony (Business Analysis)
Christopher A. Bailey (Poultry Science)
Charlie G. Coble (Agriculture)
Ronald Darby (Chemical Engineering)
Gary L. Gilmore (Health & Kinesiology)
Arthur M. Hobbs (Mathematics) (Vice-Chair)
Thomas R. Lalk (Mechanical Engineering) (CHAIR)
Howard Marchitello (English)
Peter M. McIntyre (Physics)
Leila Payne (Library)
John B. Penson (Agricultural Economics)
Thomas V. Peterson (Medical Physiology)
Robert K. Popp (Geology)
Raymond D. Reed (Architecture)
Harry J. Shafer (Anthropology)
Karan L. Watson (College of Engineering)
Bryan T. Woods (Medicine)


Ad Hoc Committee on Philosophy:

Gaile Cannella (Curriculum & Instruction)
Doug Hensley (Mathematics)
Peter Hugill (Geography) (CHAIR)
Alvin Larke (Agriculture)
Paul Parrish (English)
James R. Wild (Bio/Bio)


Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Issues:

Dennis Berthold (English) (CHAIR)
Stan Carpenter (Education)
Tom McKittrick (Architecture)
Bill Perry (Associate Provost and Dean of Faculties)
John Stansell (Curriculum & Instruction)


Ad Hoc Committee on Research:

Robert Kennedy (VP Research)
Peter McIntyre (Physics)
Jim Rosenheim (History)
Joe Templeton (Veterinary Medicine - Pathobiology)
Paul Wellman (Psychology) (CHAIR)


Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Students:

Caesar Malave (Industrial Engineering)
Dan Robertson (Director, Office of Graduate Studies)
Martha Scott (Oceanography) (CHAIR)
Ward Wells (Architecture)


Ad Hoc Committee on Student Issues:

Mary Broussard (Assoc. Provost, Undergraduate Studies)
Gary Engelgau (Admissions and Records)
Kate Kelly (English) (CHAIR)
Karen Kubena (Animal Science)
Dan MacGilvray (Architecture)
Mike Manson (Biology)
Wm. Alex McIntosh (Sociology)
Murray Milford (Soil & Crop Sci.)


Ad Hoc Committee on Money:

Rick Carlson (Geology & Geophyics)
Jim Flagg (Accounting)
William Krumm (Finance)
Joe Natowitz (Cyclotron Institute)
Win Shearon (Accounting)
Walter Wendler (Architecture) (CHAIR)


The Senate Executive Committee (1996-97):

Stephen Oberhelman (Modern Languages) (SPEAKER)
Robert S. Bednarz (Geography)
Pierce E. Cantrell (Electrical Engineering) (EX OFFICIO)
Arthur M. Hobbs (Mathematics)
Diane S. Kaplan (Educational Curriculum and Instruction)
Thomas L. McKittrick (Architecture)
Ronald J. Newton (Forest Science)
Larry J. Oliver (English) (DEPUTY SPEAKER)
Karan L. Watson (Engineering) (SECRETARY)
Mark H. Weichold (Electrical Engineering)


The Senate Executive Committee (1997-98):

Wayne E. Wylie (SPEAKER)
Robert S. Bednarz (Geography)
Frederick O. Boadu (Agricultural Economics)
Arthur M. Hobbs (Mathematics)
Diane S. Kaplan (Educational Curriculum and Instruction)
Thomas L. McKittrick (Architecture) (SECRETARY)
John W. Nielsen-Gammon (Meteorology) (DEPUTY SPEAKER)
Stephen Oberhelman (Modern Languages) (EX OFFICIO)
Larry J. Oliver (English)
Philip B. Yasskin (Mathematics)


Rewrite Committee:

Arthur M. Hobbs (Mathematics) (CHAIR)
Peter Hugill (Geography)
Mike Manson (Biology)
Jane Maxwell (University Relations)
Mary Jo Powell (Associate Director, University Relations)
Martha Scott (Oceanography)
John Stansell (Curriculum & Instruction)
Paul Wellman (Psychology)
Walter Wendler (Architecture) (CHAIR)


Student Reader:

P. J. Barnes


List of Outside Readers:

Virginia Abbott (Caldwell, TX)
Larry and Mary Ann Bernhard (Houston)
Jerrold W. Grossman (Oakland University)
Louis Hudson (Bryan, TX)
JoAnn Johnson (Bryan, TX)
Sam Nadler (University of West Virginia)


To comment on this, please send e-mail to hobbs@math.tamu.edu

Click here to go to Arthur Hobbs' home page.