Tuesday, November 27, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 66



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 of instructors.

"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," he said.

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, Warga said.

"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 said.

"They cannot hire faculty right away," he said.

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, Warga said.

"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," he said.

"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.

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