Business college gains
students, loses professors
By Tim Williams
Daily Cougar Staff
Even with a proposed student fee increase
of 260 percent garnering some student support, recently announced faculty
defections leave the Bauer College of Business in the unenviable position
of trying to educate a bulging student population with a dwindling roster
"They are going to other universities that
frankly have a lot more money to play with," Interim Dean Arthur Warga
said of three faculty members who recently announced
their impending resignations.
Two instructors are going to Texas A&M
University and one to the University of Connecticut, he said. Warga would
not name those leaving, as he admitted they don't
have guaranteed contracts, but he lamented
that one is tenured at UH.
Such defections worsen the College of Business's
student-to-teacher ratio, which stands at about 100 to 1, Warga said.
The Bauer College has about 68 instructors
for 6,200 undergraduate and graduate students, he said. By contrast, the
University of Texas at Austin's Red McCombs
School of Business has 4,500 students
served by 110 faculty members, or a 40-to-1 student-teacher ratio, he said.
The situation at the college has deteriorated
to the point that there are students on scholarship who cannot enroll in
enough courses to keep their scholarships, Warga
"What could be more perverse than that?"
he asked rhetorically.
A proposed undergraduate student fee increase
to $90 or $95 (from $20) per business course could indirectly provide relief
by freeing up funds to attract additional
faculty to the college.
Master's of business administration course
fees will rise by about $100 per course.
The additional funds raised by the increase
would directly add graduate advisers and career counselors, Warga said.
"We need to offer those services if we
are going to have anything but an embarrassing reputation," he said.
Additional faculty could then be hired
with the money that is no longer redirected toward such services, he said.
"It's for the students' good, the good
of the University and they would earn this back, very quickly, in the marketplace,"
Senior finance major Luis Lira echoed Warga's
assessment, saying, "There are individuals that have to make ends meet,
but if the quality of education is increased it
will become an asset to improving an individual's
value after graduation."
Needy students who will be hit hardest
by the increase will find relief in the form of loans and scholarships,
"When (business school namesake) Ted Bauer
heard about this, (and) understood and supported our fee increase, he went
ahead and made another generous
donation of $120,000 to help cover those
students," Warga said.
"This is a school for the working professional
and the working undergraduate," he said. "We care about students who have
a tough time paying for their education."
Perhaps because many UH students work through
college, business majors voiced concerns over what is financed by current
and proposed fees.
If the increase is approved, students will
want to see improvements immediately, business junior Quasim Ahmedbhai
"They cannot hire faculty right away,"
Ahmedbhai, who sits on a presidential advisery
"round table" that gave some input on the dean's plan, said his main concern
was that part of the increase would go
toward a new energy trading center that
would train only those involved in a few disciplines.
"We are going to pay for it even if we
don't utilize it," Ahmedbhai said.
Warga acknowledged that finding and hiring
faculty will not occur immediately. But, he said, the prestige gained by
the college once the student-to-teacher ratio
improves would be beneficial to those
who graduate soon.
Students worried about the value of a UH
business education should speak with seniors who are getting job offers,
"The reputation of the school is directly
linked to the compensation people get coming out of here," he said.
Management information systems graduates
were receiving starting salaries of $55,000 from companies like Exxon and
Dell Computer last year, he said.
"Even with the fee increase, we will be
the lowest-cost business school tuition at a Ph.D.-granting institution
nationwide," he said.
For students taking 10 business courses
a year, the UH and UT schools' fees differ by $1,200, with UH being the
cheaper, Warga said.
Once the general $600 UT undergraduate
fee is assessed, the difference rises to $1,800, he said.
"We'd like the typical student here to
pay an additional $600 (per year)," he said. Such an increase closes the
gap between the two schools by 33 percent.
Warga said the amount is all he could warrant
in one year.
"In these past 10 years, while other schools
were raising fees, we didn't do a thing, and it has hurt us," Warga said.
The UT business school has been able to
capitalize on at least five years of fee increases and improve its national
ranking, Warga said.
"I have been assured by the dean at UT-Austin
that yes, this is the mechanism by which they have been able to succeed,"
"We can (guarantee) more students jobs
like that. We can make sure that instead of there being a hiring downturn
during a recession, maybe we can maintain decent
hiring levels," he said.