Market Power

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

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Faculty Duties

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that in addition to teaching, research, and service, more and more schools are asking their faculty members to be fund raisers (paid subscription required):

The abundant interest in the activities of our former students goes beyond mere curiosity. It reflects the intensified campaign by public universities to cultivate a pool of potential donors. More than ever, faculty members are being recruited for the tasks of development, an endless process of wheedling that has come to consume every sector of the university.

At the University of Oklahoma, my employer, the proportion of the operating budget contributed by the state has declined from 35 percent 10 years ago to about 20 percent this year. During that same time, student tuition has increased dramatically, but not enough to cover the loss in public revenue. ...

State-supported universities like mine are in a bind. While a smaller and smaller proportion of our expenditures are financed by public money, we are simultaneously prohibited from raising tuition beyond certain thresholds set by legislators. To support disciplines where large government grants for research are uncommon, we must rely increasingly on the generosity of alumni donors.

This raises several questions. Which faculty should raise funds and how much time should be devoted to fund raising? Should all faculty be involved or should this activity be delegated to one or two professors? If so, how should they be compensated (bonuses, release time)?

I visited a university awhile back where the chairman of the economics department taught the only upper-level class that every economics major was required to take - econometrics. He wanted to have every major as his student and one of the reasons was to improve his rapport with the alumni-to be. Not coincidentally, he is also the chief fundraiser for the department.