IU faculty question new legislative mandates

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Indiana University educators say state lawmakers are trying to move higher education toward a "one-size-fits-all model" by requiring colleges to develop road maps to degree completion and create common curricula and standards to make general education classes transferable.

But the head of IU's board of trustees says faculty need to accept that college standards are changing and adapt to stay ahead of the shift.

Faculty leaders met with trustees Chairman Thomas E. Reilly Jr. recently in Bloomington to discuss whether the moves, which lawmakers say are designed to increase efficiency and on-time graduation, will achieve those goals.

"With luck, yeah, the degree maps will probably improve the progress of a few students," said Bloomington Faculty Council President Herb Terry. "I fear that some of them will follow them like a GPS all the way into the river, to be honest."

Indiana has long struggled to increase the number of residents with college degrees. A Lumina Foundation report found less than 34 percent of working-age Hoosiers had college degrees in 2011, making Indiana the lowest state in the Midwest for college attainment.

The Indiana Education Roundtable in 2012 passed the "Reaching Higher, Achieving More" resolution, which looked to increase on-time graduation rates at both two- and four-year campuses and double the number of college graduates produced in the state by 2025.

IU faculty members told The Herald-Times they're concerned that efficiency hasn't always meant quality. Alex Lichtenstein, an associate professor of history at IU, cited advanced placement classes in high schools. Those classes allow lower-paid teachers to educate students instead of a highly paid university professor. But Lichtenstein said many students who come to college with advanced placement credits aren't prepared for higher-level courses.

Reilly said universities have to accept that efficiency is necessary and predicted that half of the country's research universities might not be research universities within 15 years if funding continues to dry up.

He said he met recently with Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder, who suggested the four-year degree model is being overtaken by a mixture of associate degrees, certificates, a year abroad and online courses.

"Those are the types of thoughts that are coming in," Reilly said, "and I think that some of that is going to happen, or some alternative, if you folks don't come up with better alternatives. It's being driven by forces out there in the world that are difficult just to counter with the status quo."


  • Highly Paid
    I was simply commenting on the "highly paid remark in the article-- "Alex Lichtenstein, an associate professor of history at IU, cited advanced placement classes in high schools. Those classes allow lower-paid teachers to educate students instead of a highly paid university professor".
  • Real World Experience
    As an adult student in my 30's who recently went back and completed my IU bachelor's degree, I can attest to the quality of teaching from adjunct professors who bring applicable experience from the real world. Long-term, tenured professors often lack the insight of current workplace trends and conditions which sometimes make their teachings less relevant. I found this to be most true with business, non-profit, and management courses as opposed to math and applied sciences.
  • Great Comments
    IU Mom and Reilly is Correct are right on the mark. The current pattern of endless increases is unsustainable and good riddance. Big change is coming, and not a minute too soon.
  • Its How Much it Costs
    The issue is not really who teaches what or what type of university but the cost of that education. Today an accounting degree, for example, to get a career at a top flight firm costs 6x what it did 30 years ago for only 2x more earnings for that degree right out of school. Additionally, the costs thirty years ago were much smaller to a parent's budget than today. Also, I could earn a much higher percentage of my college costs with summer jobs than kids can do today. The skills required for long term success are still the same but the cost to teach our kids has gone up exponentially. These kids still have the same set of skills and are of the same value coming out green as I was 30 years ago. Yes things have become more complicated and teaching has changed. But does this warrant a 6x increase? What about technology savings? The costs are truly out of control and must be addressed. Student loan debt is the next bubble waiting to burst!
  • lower level class teachers
    It annoyed me too when my kids were in college. It is "not what we expected" to have lower level staff members teaching lower level classes, but on the other hand we should remember how people learn to be teachers at any level -- it is by teaching. Going to a large teaching hospital is the same -- you are cared for at certain levels by people who are "graduate MDs" but are still in the training system learning how to be doctors. If we didn't have this system there would be no doctors or university professors, at least that we would want to teat or to teach us. If this arrangement is not what you want, then it would be perhaps a more satisfactory experience to go somewhere smaller that is not a teaching hospital or not a major research PHD granting university. Not saying you shouldn't wish it were different, just saying how it works at present.
    • RE: IU Mom
      Excellent point! Many classes are taught by support staff who are very young. Nothing wrong with that and has been done awhile but does make it harder to "hear" the professors complaints. Also in places like IUPUI and others they use very qualified but low paid adjunct. I understand the need for research but got to have some balance here. My accounting degree cost about $16k from IU in 1983. Today with now most likely needing a five year accounting degree it is $100k. I made $19k out of college - today in public accounting starting out is probably low $40's. So graduates get paid twice as much but it costs them (us parents) over 6x as much. And what are the cost drivers that make such disparity so?
    • Highly Paid Professor??
      My daughter is in her sophomore year at IU. The majority of the core classes are not taught by the "Highly Paid Professors" mentioned above. More often then not they are taught by a student teacher or some other type of assistant. Perhaps IU could save some money if the Professors actually taught instead of always doing research, writing papers or being on sabbatical.
    • Reilly is Correct
      I have a daughter taking several AP classes in senior/junior year high school. These include history, government and psych. These are classes that would be electives in college and not part of her core classes for her career path. They are rigorous classes. They are just as hard as anything I took at the college freshman/sophmore level. She will have 12 credits for college in high school costing only $300 ($75 per three credit class) versus over $1,200 in college. The issue is not loss of any education to the young adult but loss of income to the university. The professors must recognize this market force. I know others going to places like Ivy Tech to get elective courses out of the way more cost effectively then going to the university. With a fully loaded cost at IU at $20k annually you cannot expect parents/kids to pay this freight so our kids can have a decent career only to incur unpayable debt without taking steps to mitigate this changing economic dynamic

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