UT System disseminates financial info about faculty

AddThis

The UT System released 821 pages of information about each faculty member in the system’s nine academic institutions Thursday, including their salaries, number of semester hours taught and research expenditures.

Former special adviser to the UT System Board of Regents, Rick O’Donnell, wrote to Regent Wallace Hall on April 18, the day before his time with the system ended. In the letter, he addressed his request for this information on behalf of the board. O’Donnell said he wanted to examine how UT universities spend tuition and tax dollars.

“The release of such data was resisted at the highest levels of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas System,” O’Donnell wrote.

The System has since received multiple public-information requests for the information it released Thursday. The system distributed the data along with a statement.

“The attached data spreadsheet in its current draft form is incomplete and has not yet been fully verified or cross-referenced,” said System spokesman Anthony de Bruyn. “In its present raw form, it cannot yield accurate analysis, interpretations or conclusions.”

Faculty Council chairman Dean Neikirk distributed an email Thursday warning faculty the System would be releasing the information, after he discovered the plan at a Faculty Advisory Committee meeting last week.

“Most, if not all, of this information was already available, but the ‘convenience’ of the release will no doubt invite a variety of interpretations,” Neikirk wrote. “The only concern is that it’s very easy to do one dimensional analysis of any data,” he later said.

He said surface-level analysis of the data would give an inaccurate picture of his or her overall performance.

UT President William Powers Jr. and Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell have both reassured faculty in the past months that UT will not produce a “red and black list” similar to the one Texas A&M University created last year. A&M’s list compared faculty’s total compensation and expenditures with total revenue generated, placing names in red whose compensation and expenditures exceeded revenue generated.

The statement sent with Thursday’s release supported these promises.

“The collection and analysis of the data will not be used to produce what many in the news media and general public refer to as a ‘red and black report,’” de Bruyn said.

Association of American Universities President Robert Berdahl sent a letter advising A&M not to pursue these types of measures to analyze faculty performance.

At a higher education conference last week, Powers said the association criticized A&M’s list because it failed to count the work faculty do that doesn’t directly create revenue, including much of research.

He said creating this list threatens UT’s ability to attract the type of faculty who produce top quality, intellectually and culturally stimulating research and research-based teaching
.
“Quality is built in thimblefuls, and it can be spent in buckets,” Powers said.