In response to the below article, people should be asking the following questions:
UT provost claim inaccurate. By Rick O’Donnell
A story in Thursday’s Express-News (“UT profs labeled ‘dodgers,’ ‘coasters,’ ” Metro) quotes the University of Texas at Austin provost as saying my study of faculty data must be incorrect because it examines more teachers than there are FTE (full-time) faculty at UT.
FTE is a budgeting and accounting figure but that is not what was used in the revised and corrected data released by the UT System, which was used in my analysis. A teacher may count as three-fifths of an FTE for accounting purposes but they are still one person.
As my report states, it analyzed the revised and corrected data released by the UT System. It included 623 teaching assistants and we left out 118 people identified as non-instructional or incomplete data as well as the 275 separately labeled as non-instructional administrators like Powers. We also normalized full- and part-time teachers.
If you look at page 3 of this UT document (http://www.utexas.edu/academic/ima/sites/default/files/SHB09-10Faculty-Staff.pdf) it lists 2,493 FTE, although it clearly states next that there are 3,886 FTE teaching staff at UT, closer, but still not counting every person.
State agencies, including public universities, earn a big part of the public’s trust by being transparent and providing the public with accurate, timely information and not unintentionally or intentionally misleading the public.
Maybe the provost didn’t know what numbers his university was providing the public when it released the revised and corrected faculty data, but his statement as it relates to my study is plainly inaccurate. Whatever the motive, it once again kept the university from having to actually address the fundamental question about quality and cost if a majority of the undergraduate credit hours are taught by low-ranking faculty.
Unfortunately, the San Antonio Express-News did not give me a chance to respond to the provost’s charge. If they had done so, I could have pointed out that whatever the provost was referring to, it wasn’t the data released by the UT system that was the basis of my study.
Rick O’Donnell is a former special adviser to the University of Texas System.
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