“The Texas A&M University System is moving ahead with a controversial method of evaluating how much professors are worth, based on their salaries, how much research money they bring in, and how much money they generate from teaching, The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports. Under the proposal, officials will add the money generated by each professor and subtract that amount from his or her salary to get a bottom-line value for each, according to the article.”
This bodes ill for faculty like myself who have Extension appointments. For those of you who aren’t familiar with how Extension works, Extension specialists educate citizens outside university classrooms. But with declining state support for universities, their administrators in turn focus on income generation from grants and tuition. Extension specialists do get grants, but for those of us in areas outside food and fiber research (which is what the USDA funds), there’s not much money available.
Bottom line? According to this model I’m not just worth nothing – I’m worth less than nothing. I’m not worried about my job (I have tenure after all), but for the direction that outreach education is heading. What will happen is that Extension specialists will be pushed back into classroom teaching, leaving no time for educating the rest of the state citizens. Outreach education will become little more than an afterthought.
The ironic thing about this trend is that Extension is one of the biggest bargains states get from their land grant universities. Extension education includes Master Gardeners as well as other programs tailored to local state and county needs.
It’s sad that Texas A&M puts so little value on outreach education. What’s even sadder is that this economic approach will undoubtedly be adopted by other state universities.