Columbia U. Kicks Out 'Star' Profs for not Getting Enough NIH Grants to Cover

Columbia U. Kicks Out 'Star' Profs for not Getting Enough NIH Grants to Cover

This is the first of a two-part series to cover the changing dynamics of academia in USA and other Western countries.

Inside Higher Education wrote in Grant Quota to Be Paid -

You study homelessness, or female sexuality, and are considered a leader in your field. You aren’t tenure-track but you’ve been a star teacher at your institution – one of the nation’s wealthiest – for many years. Should you lose your job for failing to raise 80 percent of your salary in outside grants?

If you ask us, the answer is resounding yes. US academia painted itself into a corner by (i) being fully reliant on the government and (ii) supporting one party over another, when both are equally war-mongering. The correct stand would have been to stay independent and be equally critical of all politicians. In contrast, even previously top-tier journals like Nature, in their infinite wisdom, decided to start backing US presidential candidates since 2008.

The original tenure system was created to make sure that the funding sources had no say over the opinions of scholars, but now very few tenured and untenured professors are ready to criticize the government decisions. In fact, they go to the extent of misleading public on government shutdown, as we outlined here.

US Science Funding Proposal for a Better Alternative

Getting back to the Inside Higher Education story, here are the key points.

i) Carole Vance and Kim Hopper are two medical anthropologists among a large group of non-tenure-track public health faculty losing their appointments.

ii) The professors are expected to get 80% of their salary covered from grants. That also means they will have to spend 80% of time working on projects related to those grants and fit teaching + chasing other grants in remaining 20% of time.

iii) University wants them to get NIH grants because -

The professor said Columbia prefers National Institutes of Health grants, due to their high, pre-negotiated overhead rates of 63 percent.

This is one aspect of contemporary University system that we often come back to. They have very bloated administrative structure supported by grant overheads and now the parasites have taken over the house.

Of Two Minds blog gave the following examples and explained what is going on and will happen using the above simple picture.

UC Davis’ administration fattened up in a way few other campuses nationwide could match from 1993 to 2007, with the third-highest increase in ratio of administrators to students among 198 universities.

UCD went from 3.2 full-time administrators per 100 students to 13.5. That 321.9 percent increase also was the highest in the 10-campus University of California system.

The figures are included in Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education.

Here is a telling tidbit from that report:

Arizona State University, for example, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent during this period while actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona State University are administrators.

It is not that the Universities lack money, as you can see from the following chart.

or even by taking the example of Columbia University -

In addition to the petitions, graduate students voiced concerns about the layoffs at an assembly last month. They said the layoffs seemed particularly distasteful in light of a Columbias recent announcement that it had completed a $6.1 billion capital campaign, the biggest successful drive in Ivy League history.

It is just that they lack money for scholarly purposes. Here is the good news. The entire mainstream academic system is going to collapse due to competition from the internet, leaving evolutionary biologists with another puzzle to think about in addition to the extinction of dinosaurs.

For a more mainstream spin of the Columbia story, please check -

Columbia Tosses Out Star Faculty Researchers for Failing to Pay 80% of Their Own Way

Written by M. //