Editorial: Earning your keep

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It is not unusual to see “bad nuts” in every occupation, and the occupation of professors is not immune to this. Among professors are those who actually care about the impact they’re making in the classroom, and those that just care about making a paycheck. Like any other academic institution, the University of Toledo has its own share of bad professors.
These are the professors who create nightmarish situations in their classrooms and make students hate the classes they enroll in. It’s no fun going to class and wishing it’s over in a few minutes because the professor doesn’t show any enthusiasm or interest in whether students actually understand what they’re teaching. No student should think that their professor is excited to fail them.
As students, we know exactly who UT’s bad professors are; we see them every day and they know that we know they don’t care much about the student. UT has some great professors, but the bad ones equally cost the university and students money. And it’s difficult to know that you’re not getting good returns for that cost. We want to look at this cost and how these type of professors may affect students’ perception of their alma mater after graduation.
According to the 2015 faculty salary list, there were 1,544 professors on the university’s payroll. For these type of employees, at least 44% received a more than $70,000 salary. This figure is way over the median household income in Ohio, which, according to the U.S. Census, was $48,081 in 2015.

In Ohio, a higher education faculty member with the title of “professor” can make an average salary of $110,000 at the Ohio State University or $101,389 at our own university.
The title a UT professor holds has much to do with their amount of time at the university and the number of classes they teach. There are many titles describing our professors, including lecturer, senior lecturer, professor, associate professor and more. These titles don’t do more than differentiate between salary levels. For example, one assistant professor makes just a little under $7,000 per year because of the classes he teaches, but another assistant professor earns over $165,000 per year.
To maintain these 1,544 professors, it costs the university $100,716,579.92 in 2015. That is a lot of money coming out of the university’s pockets, and most of it comes from the tuition that students pay.
Looking at that number, it’s not hard to figure out why the university implemented the controversial hiring freeze. At what point does a salary become too large for someone who is teaching at a public university?
UT tries to be competitive with their salaries and we believe internal factors such as quality of work, particularly shown through the end of semester student reviews of professors, are important in these determinations. But sometimes we question this position given the frequency of our encounters with poor performing professors.
We are challenging our teachers to live up to the call of providing the quality, student-friendly instructions that they are paid to provide in the classroom. We pay these professors to keep students engaged in classes and teach them what they need to know to succeed in life.
That brings us back to the other issue. We are concerned about how this bad attitude from some of our professors is affecting students’ future potential career success and the possibilities of coming back to support their alma mater. How do we expect students to get good grades in classes they barely understood? How do we expect students to be excited about their academic disciplines and building the knowledge and qualities necessary to become marketable when these same teachers who should help them become their distractions? And how do we as an institution expect students to develop a deep sense of attachment to this university and to come back to support it as alumni?
We believe that these are issues that our administration should focus on addressing. We can keep employing professors and adding to the number and burden the payroll, but if we fail to attract professors who are not only motivated to make paychecks but to also improve the lives of their students, we’ll continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.
It is great to reward professors with big salaries. We need to keep the salaries of our professors competitive in order to attract the best and brightest, but we should have programs in place to ensure that these big salaries reflect the impact that these professors are making in the classroom and on their students. This is fairness not only to students and the university but also to other hardworking professors on the payroll.

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Editorial: Earning your keep