Nadworny: On Golden Parachutes

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Commentator Rich Nadworny was surprised by a Golden Parachute
sighting in Vermont this summer – and he’s not talking about bird

I’ve been chewing on the news that Daniel Fogel is leaving his
position as president of UVM earlier than expected. And what struck
me most about this entire story was the deal that arranged for Fogel
to teach English at UVM at a salary of $195,000/year.

mean, who knew that liberal arts teaching positions paid so well!
When my dad was hired as an associate professor of economics at UVM
back in 1952, his starting salary was less than $5,000/year. My poor
mom thought he was dragging her to Vermont to live in abject poverty.

yet, after teaching for 32 years at UVM and retiring in the late
1980s as one of the best and best loved teachers there, if I do say
so myself, his salary was not even in the same galaxy as Dan Fogel’s
new gig. I wish it had been.

as an old UVM brat, Fogel’s salary agreement strikes me as
untoward; too much like the old-boys back-room deals we’re used to
seeing at the worst run corporations in the country.

thing that puts it over the top for me is that for the past decade, when it comes to funding
and faculty,
UVM has placed a much greater educational emphasis on business majors
at the expense of the liberal arts majors. But if you read the recent studies from the National
Survey of Student Engagement you’d find that business majors spend
less time preparing for class than do students in any other field. 

study also found that when business students take the entry test for
an MBA program, they score lower than students in every other major.

wish we could assume that the UVM administration has realized their
mistake and is now committed to paying liberal arts professors top
dollar – and that they’ll go on a hiring spree to bring in more
faculty to these departments – because, let’s face it, for $195,000
you could hire several really, really good professors. But that isn’t
likely unless some secret marketing research shows that what incoming
freshmen really want is a hot Henry James class.

this makes me think of my dad and his old colleagues – like Milt
Potash, Sam Bogorad and others.  They were worth their weight in
gold because of what they did for the Students. They were World War
II vets who used the GI bill to do something they loved rather than
something that would make them money, so they became university
professors, rather than doctors or lawyers.

great teaching apparently isn’t worth as much these days as running
an educational institution as if it were Goldman Sachs.

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