Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Perhaps Every University of California Class is a Tutorial

Tad Friend's New Yorker article (subscription required) about the University of California is largely sympathetic to the student protesters and faculty activists who oppose state budget cuts that have caused higher tuition, salary freezes and layoffs.  The usual tragic arc is invoked: Mario Savio in 1964 begat Ronald Reagan in 1966, who begat Howard Jarvis in 1978, whose Proposition 13 "broke the government."  One consequence is that in 1990 the state government's financial support for UC worked out to $16,430 per student (in 2009 terms), while it now pays $7,570. 

The article notes in passing that UC, with ten campuses, has "two hundred and twenty-nine thousand students and a hundred and eighty thousand faculty and staff," numbers consistent with the UC website's fact sheet.  I ask this question because: a) I don't know the answer; and b) some NLT contributors and readers familiar with academia from the inside-out might.  Is that ratio between students, on the one hand, and faculty and staff, on the other, normal for American colleges and universities?  We're saying that even after cutbacks that are routinely described as "draconian," the University of California can't possibly teach and tend to 1,000 students with fewer than 786 professors, deans, secretaries, librarians, cooks and groundskeepers.  If that ratio isn't normal, if it's possible to imagine 1,000 UC students being wiser on graduation day than during freshman orientation despite having been taught and looked after by a mere six or seven hundred professors, deans, secretaries, etc. then we need to consider the possibility that the University of California is not so much underfunded as overstaffed.
Categories > Education

Discussions - 2 Comments

At Scripps College,of the Claremont Colleges, they used to boast about the student-gardener ratio. UC is just catching up.

Increasingly, it's the instructors as well as the students who are getting starved for resources. They can't build more classrooms, but they sure as hell can hire another associate vice provost, etc. And, from what I've heard, a few superstar "scholars" (those who are best at scrupulously avoiding teaching) get most of the raises, while their colleagues struggle away in the trenches for minimal rewards.

American higher education is collapsing, but it will take a generation or two.

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