Taking Charge — Episode 7

Brad, Mary, and George meet in Marie’s conference room.  Marie will join them later.  Pete O’Connor has been recruited to help.  Pete is Director of Educational Technology at Beresford.

“Pete, we have been doing some benchmarking of course offerings around the country,” George opens.

“What have you found?” Pete asks.

“There is sufficient high quality online content available for us to teach all freshman and sophomore math, physics, and chemistry online,” Brad reports.

“I sat in on several or our traditional classes on these topics.  The online courses are far superior.  The production quality is impressive.  The lecturers are compelling.” Mary offers.

“What happens to all the faculty members that teach these courses?” Pete asks.

“They will lead tutoring sessions for students who need help.”

“I cannot imagine these faculty members responding positively to this,” Pete responds.

“These sessions will be small and intimate.  We estimate that a faculty member can lead six one-hour sessions per day.”

“Sounds like a full time job.”

“Well, they will not be preparing and delivering lectures.  They will not be correcting homework or preparing and grading exams. So, they will have time.”

“So, in effect, all students get the best math teacher, the best physics teacher, and the best chemistry teacher,” Pete observes.

“You can think of it that way,” George responds.

“Faculty members will think of it that way.  They will also feel that they clearly are not among the best.”

“And they will be correct,” says George.

“I assume that this will also save us a lot of money. Teaching employment will inevitably decrease, perhaps quickly.”

“Yes, much of the savings will be use to reduce tuition to help us be more competitive.” Mary responds.

“How does this affect the 20% of our faculty members who are research active?” Pete asks.

“As you know, research employment has become 100% soft money, with no Beresford subsidies.”

“I have also heard that many faculty members have formed LLCs to host sponsored research projects.”

“Yes, that is a trend.”

“Doesn’t this loss of revenue hurt the university?”

“We lose money on every sponsored research dollar, so the LLCs actually help.”

“But doesn’t our image as a research university suffer?”

“The faculty members still list their affiliation with Beresford when they publish, so we get credit for publications, citations, and h-indices.”

“How are research staff members supported?  How are graduate student stipends paid?”

“They all work for the LLCs, at significantly higher salaries.”

“These are amazing changes.”

“There are other benefits to Beresford.  The LLCs pay graduate students’ tuitions, and include these costs in the benefits portion of the rates they charge sponsors,” Mary notes.

“Most of them rent office space in the Beresford Research Park.  These costs are also included in their indirect costs rates,” Brad adds.

“So, overall, we are cutting costs right and left, while also creating new revenue streams and, as a result, seeing increasing surpluses while we are cutting tuition.”


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