Tuesday, February 2, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 84

Be a real American

About the Cougar

Staff Editorial


John Harp                Ed De La Garza 
Michelle Norton     Jim Parsons 

At what cost?

A word from the editor

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle brought to light UH's plan to ask the state for an additional $41 million in order to attract a more prominent faculty.

There's only one problem with that: The emphasis may not be on faculty who will actually teach, but rather on researchers who can be bandied about to various fund-raisers.

The University could certainly gain national media exposure with famous professors. It would also go a long way toward attracting more students.

Paul Chu, Edward Albee, Tony Diaz and Jim Jones -- who is soon leaving for the Mecca that is the University of Arkansas -- have all done their part in luring students based solely on name value.

A name, however, can't teach. Clyde Drexler brought the spotlight back to our campus, but he doesn't teach. He's not expected to, unless you count coaching as teaching.

It's been brought to our attention by several sources that UH already employs the practice of hiring faculty with name recognition, but doesnât expect them to put in time in the classroom.

Students often complain about the lack of open courses -- which has as much to do with the lack of teachers as it does with available classrooms -- or the quality of their education. And many alumni credit this as the main reason they don't give back to this institution. Meanwhile, teaching assistants often fill the teaching roles discarded by professors.

While there are some talented TAs on campus, students come here to be taught by professors who have reached a degree of knowledge attainable only through years of study. That's not meant as a slight against TAs, but there is a distinction to be made there.

Having a faculty filled with people potential students have heard of does sound enticing, but not when the students enroll here and find that those people aren't teaching any classes and never will. Doesn't that seem like a let-down?

Asking the state Legislature for $41 million to help the University is great. National recognition is a good thing. One would hope, however, that this additional money would be spent on faculty who can be brought in to teach. That is what this university is supposed to be about, isn't it -- teaching?


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