Earlier this month, the Ohio Conference Communication Committee (although I formally chair the committee, our Executive Director, Sara Kilpatrick, now drafts most of the regular communications with our members) distributed the following item.
Rosenberger Releases Report from Higher Education Study Committee
As we reported to you in September, the Ohio House of Representatives had formed a “Higher Education Reform Study Committee” that traveled around the state seeking input on various aspects of higher education in Ohio.
OCAAUP President John McNay testified at one of the hearings, setting the record straight about faculty workload and administrative bloat.
Earlier this week, the Chair of the Committee, Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), held a press conference at which he unveiled a 59-page report that outlined findings and recommendations of the committee (although 21 pages of the report is summary of testimony given at the hearings).
Among other things, the report emphasizes reductions in remediation, the benefits of dual enrollment, more closely tying in workforce development, and addressing student debt and financial literacy.
Additionally, the report recommends “establish[ing] higher education benchmarks for operational efficiency,” as well as financially rewarding institutions that reduce expenditures.
We can briefly rejoice that there was no mention of state mandates for faculty workload; although we will closely monitor how the legislature and universities might interpret the best ways for universities to cut down on spending.
Today, the following communication is being distributed to our members statewide.
Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Review Calls for Increasing Faculty Workload
On Tuesday, March 11, Gov. John Kasich unveiled House Bill 472, the mid-biennium review (MBR) bill.
The MBR is meant to tweak the state operating budget passed the year before, but Kasich’s HB 472 contains major changes and policy initiatives, such as another income tax (revenue) cut and a tax hike on cigarettes.
Pertaining to Ohio’s public institutions of higher education, the Governor included language calling for universities to evaluate their workload policies by the end of this calendar year, and to increase aggregate faculty workload by 10 percent by the end of Fiscal Year 2017.
Specifically, the bill states: Section 733.40. Not later than December 31, 2014, each state university, as defined in section 3345.011 of the Revised Code, and the Northeast Ohio Medical University shall report to the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents on the institution’s faculty workload policy and procedures. The report shall include both of the following:
(A) An evaluation of the institution’s current faculty workload policy and procedures;
(B) The institution’s recommendations to modify its faculty workload policy, by June 30, 2017, to increase the institution’s aggregate faculty workload by ten per cent in the combined areas of instruction, advising, and research.
Both of Kasich’s previous state budget bills included faculty workload language, but each time, the legislature removed the provisions before passing the final bills.
As we did during budget bill deliberations, the Ohio Conference will monitor this legislation and provide testimony to the General Assembly about faculty workload issues.
It has long been our position that workload issues should be decided at the institutional level, and that a one-size-fits-all workload edict from the state is a solution in search of a problem. We will continue to highlight where the real problems in higher education lie.
Besides the workload issue, the MBR also calls for the “College Credit Plus Program” to be fully implemented and operational for the 2015-2016 academic year. There are still many outstanding questions surrounding College Credit Plus, especially in regards to who teaches the courses and how funding will be awarded.
We will keep you apprised of developments as this bill goes through the legislative process.
So there are at least three takeaways from this hardly surprising turn of events.
First, this might seem another instance of holding a round of public hearings to cherry-pick additional justifications for conclusions that have already been reached. But if you look through the committee’s report, there isn’t actually any testimony suggesting that faculty workloads ought to be increased. So it seems as if the process of holding the hearings, rather than the actual material produced by the hearings, is being used to justify the proposal for the workload increase.
Second, there is nothing in the bill that addresses administrative bloat—even though, as John McNay, the president of OCAAUP, has demonstrated in testimony during these hearings and as I have documented in previous posts to this blog, the problem is all too apparent. It is apparent in the rapid rates of increase in presidential compensation, in the creation of new administrative positions at all levels, in administrative compensation at all levels, and in the numbers of administrative support staff being hired.
Lastly, despite the considerable attention given to the issue over the last six months in Ohio, there is nothing in the bill that addresses the corresponding increases in the exploitation of adjunct faculty. I am certain that the crafters of the legislation will insist that hiring priorities are an institutional prerogative. But , of course, that would beg the question of why the legislature is addressing faculty workloads.