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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Faculty speaks on higher education issues

1) Where do you see higher education going in the next several years?

2) What problems do you see with higher education in Arizona or nationally?

1) “”Well, I think it’s pretty clear that higher education is really important to any state economy, particularly the state universities in Arizona, because advancement in technology, living, life, sciences, art often are going to come from the university environment. But it’s also clear that in this climate economically, the universities are not going to be supported by the state. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m not going to argue that question. I’m just going to say it’s probably not going to happen. I think the three universities have good ideas about how to make themselves a little more self-sufficient and how to get the Board of Regents involved because I understand they want the Board of Regents to advocate more for the universities and, that way, the Board of Regents and the university system can sell themselves to the public.””

2) “”I think probably universities in general need to be more creative in how they envision themselves. There’s sort of the rigid focus of the ivory tower and ‘We’re universities, so we do this and we do that,’ and yet, there’s many more interesting and exciting things that can happen if you’ll turn loose some of that idea and envision broader programs. One of my biggest concerns being in theatre education is the relationship of the arts to the community and the relationship of the university in promoting better teachers and better education. I think they go hand and hand.””

Laura McCammon, associate professor of theatre arts teacher certification in the School of Theatre, Film & Television, program coordinator for the School of Theatre, Film & Television

1) “”Public universities across the nation will continue to deal with state budget cuts in the coming years which will compel them to revisit their mission and prioritize.””

2) “”Political support from state legislators and funding. Universities are social and economic pillars of a state and need to be viewed as investments and not costs.”” 

Dr. Paul Melendez, director of Ethics Program


1) “”Well, that is a huge question. I guess higher education is one industry where the U.S. is a world leader. Students from all over the world want to study here in our leading U.S. institutions, and at the same time because we have a federal system, some of our best public institutions are in states with many budgetary problems and it creates a difficult situation for our public institutions. Now, private institutions, that is a whole different matter. They can charge the tuitions that they want. But particularly in large land grant universities like the UA, it is a problem. You see stats that are crippled by their state budgets and in their budgets for public higher education. The new challenge is how you come up with a new business mode that allows you to support a new institution for students that can find a way to finance itself. I think that is one of the things that here at the UA we are looking at, and if there is a different model that would make sense. Like ASU is privatizing its law school, is that a possibility? And what’s the cost in terms of access? But trying to keep afloat even though we still don’t have a tuition that reflects the cost of education with what we have, a state government that is increasingly unwilling to support us, makes it hard to do what we’ve always done incredibly well and sustain that level of access for students.””

2) “”I think that’s a huge challenge for public institutions that are in states with terrible budgetary crisis. This is no different than California and the University of California system. How are you going to sustain these universities in states that can’t offer them and can’t sustain them in the ways they used to? And if you raise the tuition at the level in which you could sustain them, then how do you provide access? Because that’s the marvel of our public education is providing the access to quality education. Well, I mean, a real challenge for many universities is what happens when the stimulus runs out. Since Arizona has a budget deficit of $1 billion that’s been an issue, but there’s the fact that federal dollars have been propping us up and that’s going to run out soon. How we make that up, how we deal with that, those are the great challenges – and while still maintaining ourselves as a leading research institution that is available to students all over Arizona and all over the country.””

Professor H. Brinton Milward, director of the School of Government and Public Policy


1) “”I think with the budget cuts and hire increases, we are going to see much larger classes, we are going to see more online teaching. Are they all bad? No, but I think it makes it much harder. One of the things about a college education, in my opinion, is getting to know the faculty, getting to know students and students getting to know faculty. In very large classes, that is almost impossible. For online teaching, it is much less possible, it’s tough. I teach an online course and it takes probably three times as much effort for me to get to know my students as it does in a reasonable sized classroom. It’s tough, I think we are going to see more of it though as it gets more and more expensive to have classrooms and building these classrooms that are going to be able to hold these larger numbers of students. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for higher education. It’s kind of scary right now, I think.””

2) “”I think we are, at the University of Arizona and possibly nationwide, pricing ourselves out of a lot of good quality students. As tuition continues to go up, we are going to start losing good students to community colleges and online programs. I think that is a little bit scary.  Personally, the biggest issue I see with higher education is that there is not enough value placed on teaching. I think the students get it. A good teacher is much more effective than a poor teacher, but I don’t think the administration always get that. I don’t think some of the faculty gets that. We tend to forget at the university as faculty that students are our boss. We are here to give you guys a good education and some of us take this very, very seriously. We want you to be able to go out to be productive and lifelong learners as hopefully we are. I think very often, that gets forgotten. We are so slammed with other responsibilities, it’s tough. I think in some cases, I think some faculty could make more money teaching at a high school level and there is such a push for increasing teacher wages at that level, but not at the university level. I think we are working just as hard to give you guys a good product, and I think sometimes it gets blown over.””

Zoe Cohen, lecturer for the Department of Physiology


1. “”Well, I think we’re going to see a lot more large courses … and in the near future, the economy is going to dictate educational policy more than any kind of philosophy.””

“”The bottom line is that we’ll have to do more with less, and what better way to do that than to shove like 500 plus kids in a room with one poor sap up on the stage to teach them, and three or sometimes even fewer TAs to help the sap administer the course?””

“”I think we’re going to see colleges and universities continue to push online courses, which have cost-saving pluses, but a heck of a lot of major minuses, like a lack of real, meaningful interaction between students and teachers, and a ton of new ways to cheat.””

2. “”Another trend I think we’re going to see a lot more is faculty asked to teach more courses in a semester or year. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless, that is, as faculty are asked to do more teaching, they are likewise expected to do less of other things (like departmental and university service and publication).””

“”As of yet, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that service and scholarship loads are being decreased as teaching loads are being increased. That’s going to be a problem.””

Professor John Bauschatz, director of the Ancient Greek Program, UA Department of Classics

1) “”I see less personalized attention, meaning larger classroom sizes and more online teaching.””

2) “”There is a lack of efficient support from the government. The burden of cost is falling on the student. For instance, tuitions are going up because governments are not supporting universities enough.””

Professor Emma Blake, assistant professor of Anthropology


1) “”I think we are in a really, really difficult period. I think that it is very easy for people to look at higher ed as being an ivory tower of great thought thinkers who spend way more money than they need to and we’re just incredibly expensive and the struggle that goes along with that, which is to educate the youth of the state. And what does that education really mean? … It’s worse for people in higher education than those who are looking at in from afar because we are getting sent so many different messages about what we should be doing and who we should be.””

2) “”Well it’s a national problem, I think, because the agenda for higher education has — I think this will get me in trouble — I think it’s been hijacked. That we no longer talk about the quality of the education we provide to students. We talk about the training that we give to students, preparing them for the profession … We don’t get to talk about educating whole, well-rounded, articulate, clear-thinking people.””

Bruce Brockman, director of the School of Theatre, Film & Television


1) “”Well I think there’s going to be a greater emphasis on us having to be entrepreneurial and us with less assistance from the state.””

2) “”The whole sense of more and higher education institutions having to become more self-supporting and autonomous is really a national trend. The reality of the state institutions in Arizona is to find more ways of funding our efforts. We’re certainly taking new approaches and we’re defining specific niches, areas where we we believe there is a need and we can become more self-sufficient.

The whole area of higher education and educational leadership and policy studies is kind of our (department’s) focus.

But, I think if you talk to other administrators across campus, you’d see them echo the same feeling. If we’re going to have, the resources are definitely less than we have had in the past and for us to be a viable institution and a healthy department to move ahead, we have to take control of our funding. In some cases, it’s through grants or outreach in the community to generate more revenue.

You have to have a focus on revenue and that’s the way we have to find the resources for maintaining a high quality education.””

Dr. J. Robert Hendricks, department head of Educational Policy Studies and Practice, assistant professor in Educational Leadership


1) “”Well it’s really problematic because of funding, especially in Arizona. There are lots of states losing their education funding, but especially in Arizona where you have a lot of representatives who are not in support of funding education. I feel that we are possibly going to have some ‘brain drain’ where professors realize that Arizona is not in support of them educating within the state and they could leave. ‘Brain drain’ would mean that it would weaken the value of education at the University of Arizona. A lot of people think that Arizona is considered a retirement state because it’s warm and there is good weather. A lot of people consider ‘well I’m retiring here why would I considering paying for someone else’s education?’ The issue with that is that, through education, you are teaching the people you are going to be surrounded with or surrounded by. You are teaching the people who are going to later take care of you and the people who are going to be handling all the services within your city, so we need education. People can’t do their job if they don’t have an education and so, unfortunately, if people don’t support the society, the community as well as our representatives not supporting education — specifically in Arizona — we are going to lose not only some of the great community development we have going on, but we are also, although a lot of people don’t realize it, the university and the students at the university bring in a lot of money to Arizona and they are going to lose a lot of income.””  


2) “”Unfortunately, I think we are going to go through some difficult times. I’m hoping for the best and for people to realize, and for the government to realize, education is necessary not only to compete state within state and to do well as an individual state, but also internationally. Unfortunately, the United States is often considered, in reference to our primary K-12 education, not to be the best and we definitely want to change that at the university level and be competitive internationally. Hopefully people will start supporting education more and realize that what is spent on taxes — or I don’t know how much it would change or not change — is beneficial not just to education but to the community.””

Dr. Jessica Zeitler, professor for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese


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