WATCHING ADAMS GUEST COMMENTARY – 2/3/17
Based on my many years of experience at Adams State University, as both a faculty member and an administrator, I have a few comments about teaching huge numbers of students.
Ideally, if I’m a full time tenured track faculty member and I find I have the time and energy on my hands to teach scads of distance students on top of my regular, full-time, on-campus load, then I should be using that time and energy to better serve my current on-campus students. I should be using that time to teach those students so amazingly well that they get a better education at ASU than they would anywhere else. I should be striving to become a nationally-recognized teacher or scholar, a pedagogical leader in my field.
This sort of attitude would not only benefit our students in the classroom, but also in the job market, by enhancing the reputation of their Alma Mater rather than degrading it with scandals. Imagine seeing ASU in the news in a good way, for a change.
I said “ideally” above, and of course I understand that things are never ideal. At Adams State, faculty are paid comparatively poorly. That’s one of the things that has encouraged some to take on so many extra students.
Which brings me to my next point.
Ideally, if I’m an administrator, I would want to incentivize faculty to better serve my current on-campus students, to become a nationally-recognized teacher/scholar, etc. to do all the wonderful things I mentioned above. The last thing I’d want to do is to strongly encourage faculty to do otherwise. The last thing I’d want to do is to skimp on regular faculty pay and then encourage teachers to make up the difference by taking on a ton of extra teaching.
But that’s what the ASU administration chose to do. Instead of using regular and substantial raises to reward faculty for their fealty to the core mission, it chose to reward them for helping keep the institution solvent. They took a susbatantial part of the faculty’s time and energy and creativity and applied it to goal of increasing enrollment in subsrandard distance courses.
It’s possible that our finances were so dire that this choice was justified, but in any event we are paying dearly for it today. Our current problems are the direct result of the incentives that were set up in the early days of Extended Studies.