Monday, August 23, 2010

Every Ag can dream of being Governor someday

Quoted in yesterday's Eagle
In the interview printed last week, Perry was asked about layoffs and buyouts of experienced faculty. He was quoted as saying, "We're laying off professors because there was a huge hiring increase that went on in the mid-2000s and these people are not even in the classrooms teaching our kids. I totally support that concept. Reductions in personnel that are nonessential at universities is good fiscal management."
The push to hire new faculty through the "Faculty Reinvestment Plan" was based on the flawed idea that A&M needed to reduce class size and increase our research prominence.

We could save a lot more and reduce the cost of college for students if we just got rid of the classrooms too. As the Governor's own career shows, all an Aggie needs can come from yell practice and Bonfire.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Look out, Gophers!

President Loftin boasts about how we did in the 2011 US News rankings:
Texas A&M fared well in rankings released this week. U.S. News & World Report ( placed us second nationally among public universities (and the only public university in Texas) in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category, behind only the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Overall, we remained tied at 22nd among national public universities. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni ( again gave Texas A&M the top grade of “A” for our focus on core course requirements, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University ranked Texas A&M 95th in its annual list of the world’s 100 best universities (
The President didn't point out how we did in the actual National Universities rankings:
Vision 2020 Abbreviation2011 Ranking
Minnesota 64
Texas A&M 63
Purdue 56
Ohio St. 56
Florida 53
Penn St. 47
Illinois 47
Wisconsin 45
Texas 45
UC Davis 39
UC San Diego 35
Georgia Tech 35
North Carolina30
Michigan 29
UC Berkeley 22

We may remain tied for 22nd among public schools, but we've crept up to 63 in 2011, while we were only at 61 in 2010. Among the Vision 2020 schools, we're achingly close to passing Minnesota. C'mon Ags! We can do it!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Deck chair arrangements being planned

The Eagle reports
Texas A&M officials have provided hints about what a planned $21 million internal reallocation could be spent on: increasing graduate student enrollment, improving the undergraduate experience, enhancing facilities and taking care of faculty.

Decisions about the reallocation -- which is stacked on a potential $39 million "worst-case" state funding reduction -- aren't final and the current discussion centers more on the process for deciding the priorities than figuring out what they are.
Some might be surprised that a process for figuring out priorities at an established AAU university doesn't already exist.

There's an old saying that one should measure twice and cut once. That's how we do things for Vision 1920... just not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dear Faculty: please leave

The Eagle covers the Voluntary Separation Plan (VSP), and the details are here (pdf). Eligible faculty get either one or two years of pay to leave. For most colleges it's open to any tenured faculty member who has been at their current rank since 1995.

The application window is also pretty short: August 15- Sept 23, 2010.

The University can reject VSP applications, and VSP applicants can't bail out of their Fall teaching; the earliest separation date will be December. Who is the target demographic for the VSP?
Doug Slack, a wildlife fisheries science professor, said he will apply for the program. He said he's had his dream job for 37 years teaching students at Texas AM and serving the state, but it's time to move on. Though nearing retirement anyway, he said, he wouldn't have decided to apply now if it weren't for the incentive.

"The program enables the university to spend a little money on the front end and save a lot on the back end," said Slack, 67. "It will help with the remaining faculty members, and help our department meet some of its needs."
Slack chaired a search committee whose recommendations were rejected by the Regents, and was critical of the process. Vision 1920 sees the VSP as a great way to encourage senior faculty who have been around long enough so they are no longer looking to the administration for handouts able to lead new initiatives to retire.