Thursday, March 31, 2011

ASU May Hack Instructors

An internal e-mail outlined ASU's efforts to reduce expenses in light of looming budget cuts.  One strategy involves eliminating a number of instructor, senior instructor and lecturer positions.  Instructors and lecturers are lower cost teaching professionals, a sort of professorial extender.  Another move would combine colleges and departments.  A rumor has the College of Liberal & Fine Arts combining with the College of Sciences. 

It may be difficult for ASU to reach its goal of 10,000 students without instructors/lecturers.  Senior leaders believe they can overload online classes (with up to 80 students per class).  Also, ASU may try to hire back lecturers as adjuncts, paying a fee per course, with no job benefits, like retirement or health insurance.

Health care providers chose to host a press conference on proposed budget cuts, using their web sites to mobilize support.  SAISD asked people to go to Kenny Blanek's Restaurant April 2nd at 2:00 pm in a teacher sponsored Day of Action.  ASU is yet to make a public call for action. 

Facing 25 to 33% state budget cuts, the cleaver is bound to hit tendon and bone across the Concho Valley. How hobbled will ASU be in the fall?  How much blood will obscure Vision 2012, much less Vision 2020?

ASU's potential job cuts portend greater pain for area health care providers.  How many hundreds will lose ASU's health insurance, like the City of San Angelo's nearly 200 people and SAISD's fifty four plus.  The area's legions of uninsureds continue to explode in number.  Let's hope it's not in anger.

Update:  Cuts to federal Pell Grants will add to ASU's misery. In Fall 2010 45% of ASU students received Pell Grants, up from 33% in 2008-09 .  Almost 92% of ASU students receive some form of financial aid.  College students, who don't drop out, will need to take out loans to make up for dwindling state and federal grants.  ASU's laying low may pay off, as Rep. Drew Darby filed an amendment giving the university $500,000 over a two year period.

Update 4-2-11:  ASU's Fall 2011 Schedule shows many classes with double the number of students vs. Spring 2011.  Education class sizes ranged from 10 to 26 in Spring.  They're 50 come August.  Many online classes have double the number of students, a distinct challenge for professors new to online teaching.  Students face a nearly 10% tuition increase and could receive half the level of service.  Who'll study the value equation?  The Business College is in a five year decline, falling from 1,100 students in 2006 to 774 in 2010, a nearly 30% decline.  That would make a great case study, as would Texas' "Great Budget ExPerryment.".

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