University holding back on full financial impact
In his e-mail to the Miami University community responding to Miami’s financial crunch, President David Hodge stated: “As we respond to the immediate financial challenges, it is vital that we remain clearly focused on our future. Our unwavering goal is to provide the exceptional student experience that Miami is known for. We will not compromise on this.”
However, if what is happening in my department is any indication of what is happening across the rest of the university, the first steps being taken by the administration certainly suggest that the undergraduate educational mission is, in fact, going to be the sacrificial lamb on the budget-cut altar. To date, almost all of the cuts in my department are coming from the teaching side of the academic equation. And this is in a department in which the vast majority of students taking ECO 201, ECO 202, ECO 301 and ECO 344 are taught in increasingly large Ohio State University-like sections, where students increasingly do not engage or interact with faculty.
Here is the budget-cut arithmetic for my department. We have three visiting faculty, two of whom have been notified that-because of budget cuts-their positions will not be continued here next year (we do not know the fate of the third visiting faculty). This will represent the loss of 14 sections of economics courses next year (18 sections if the third visitor is terminated, too). The university has also instituted a “hiring freeze,” which means we may not be allowed to replace the faculty who leave Miami (because of retirement, etc.). At present, there is the possibility that two faculty members will leave Miami next year for a loss of another 10 sections of economics courses. Add to this the potential loss of four more sections due to faculty who will be on Assigned Research Leave (ARL) or Faculty Improvement Leave (FIL) and you have, in the economics department alone, a loss of 14 (best possible scenario) to 32 (worst possible scenario) sections. What this means, quite obviously, is that average class size will increase, yet again, leading to a decrease in the integrity of the undergraduate teaching mission.
I would encourage The Miami Student to investigate the extent to which this is happening across the university, and report it to Miami undergraduates-the ones who seem to be targeted for bearing the brunt of the burden, but the ones whose tuition most assuredly will not fall in line with the quality of their educational experience.
The Student should also inquire into how many administrators are being terminated (bodies, not positions) given that much of the explosion in cost at Miami has been due to growth in the administration, and whether the faculty will be asked to make modest changes in their teaching as one small step in protecting the integrity of the undergraduate teaching mission. For example, how many undergraduate sections could be preserved if Hodge mandated that all faculty currently teaching two sections or less per semester teach one additional undergraduate course next year? How many sections could be preserved by a one-year moratorium on all ARAs and FILs?
Bottom line, Miami undergraduates are entitled to know if Miami is serious in its commitment to preserve the integrity of the undergraduate teaching mission (and make Miami more Miami) or if it will continue along the Garland path of making Miami more Ohio State (only with higher tuition).
Rich HartProfessor of Economicshartwr@muohio.edu
MU football performance demands coach change
I watched with disgust another Miami University football game. At one time, Miami football struck fear in top-ranked opponents and the possibility of upset. Those days are gone. Now opponents line up to play Miami. The defense-once the stellar unit of Miami football-would have a hard time stopping teams from weaker of smaller conferences. It’s time for a change on the sidelines. A 37 percent winning record over, I think ,four years should tell you something. It’s either poor recruiting or poor coaching. I think Miami should do what it takes to bring Sherman Smith to Oxford. He’s a Miami graduate who knows what Miami tradition is all about. Just take a look at the bowl appearance banners hanging in the stadium. He has plenty of football experience to bring to the campus. Let’s make Miami a consistent winner again and not just a flash once every 4 or 5 years.
Russel W. Poolerwpoole@dishmail.net