| July 26, 2012

Should professors teach more?

University of Oklahoma president David Boren is to be applauded for acknowledging that higher education needs to be "more cost-effective" and that professors need to teach more.

In this regard, President Boren's thinking matches that of economist Richard Vedder. “Are there unique or unusual aspects of Oklahoma’s system that might be worth scrutinizing as the state seeks to more efficiently use taxpayer dollars?” Dr. Vedder asked in a report published last year by OCPA and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP). It’s worth exploring because, interestingly, even as the OCPA/CCAP study was being released, Dr. Vedder had a column in The Wall Street Journal ('Time to Make Professors Teach') describing another CCAP study that found that, by making professors at the University of Texas teach more, tuition could be cut in half.

The respected survey firm SoonerPoll last year asked Oklahomans to agree or disagree with this statement: “Professors should be paid based on how much teaching they do, especially how many students they teach.” A full 63 percent of respondents agreed with that statement, while 25 percent disagreed. One prominent Oklahoman who agrees with that statement is OCPA distinguished fellow J. Rufus Fears, a classics professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Fears says a light teaching load simply “does not give the people of Oklahoma their money’s worth.”

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