Market Power

Musings by an academic economist on the power of markets and the power over markets.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Faculty Continuing Education

Robert Lawson at Division of Labour has this piece on the recent flap at Ohio University between the faculty senate and the president of OU. Here is the story about the flap linked in that piece. At the heart of the matter is a concern over faculty taking classes from other faculty.

The trouble started when Faculty Senate began discussing a controversial new rule that would restrict how faculty members can further their degrees at OU. Faculty Senate has been working for some time on the measure, and the item was scheduled for a vote on Monday.

The reason for the change is that senate members worry it could be a conflict of interest, or at least create the appearance of a conflict, for faculty members to enroll in classes taught by their colleagues.

Supporters of the measure say this could lead to problems for professors teaching other faculty members, who then might at some point serve on their tenure committee. Or, they suggest, faculty members could simply feel uncomfortable teaching their colleagues. They also point out that having a faculty member in a class can change the culture of the classroom, and other students may think it's an unfair situation.
And then there's this from an opponent of the measure:
Cambridge argued that many faculty members come to OU with the intent of furthering their education. He said the new rule would hurt these faculty members and make it harder to recruit new ones. Cambridge added that it is not a conflict of interest for faculty members to further their education at their own institution, and he hoped Faculty Senate would at least allow the issue to be debated for another month before voting on it.
This raised my eyebrows. The PhD is a terminal degree and continuing education is part of the job description of academics - especially non-tenured ones (i.e. publish or perish). Does OU hire a large number of adjunct faculty or instructors, faculty often without the terminal degree? This isn't so in their econ department. Does OU use this as a recruiting tool? Perusing OU's faculty job opening web page, I didn't see much evidence of this. Of course the job announcements don't tell us much about what interviewees hear in the interviews. Is OU heavy on disciplines that require continuing education of its faculty?

When I finished my dissertation defense, the first place I wanted to go was here. The last place I wanted to go was to a classroom to take a class. What's going on at OU?