Target: Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California
Goal: Guarantee students a good education by evaluating and promoting faculty based on teaching ability
Students enrolled at University of California institutions are no longer getting what they thought they paid for. Once renowned for offering some of the best public higher education in the country, current UC policies regarding faculty evaluations are allowing teaching quality to steadily decline where it once prevailed.
The problem is that when deciding who gets tenure or a pay raise, the administration values high research and publication output over a faculty member’s ability to effectively teach his or her assigned courses. Student feedback and comments about an instructor’s competency carry little to no weight in the decisions. Since the capacity to run experiments or to write journal articles does not necessarily translate into the qualifications of an excellent teacher, many sub-par professors are being awarded the secure and lucrative job positions that were formerly reserved for the teaching elite. On the other hand, professors whose passion is teaching, rather than research or writing, are denied promotions and are slowly being pushed out of the system.
Many major research universities across the nation have demonstrated similar faculty evaluation procedures. The reason behind this preferred course of action is that research and publications bring in a lot of money to university coffers, which has been successful in replacing some of the funds that were lost to state budget cuts in recent years. Nevertheless, student tuition is still the number one financier of public research universities. Furthermore, these universities have an obligation to deliver on their promises and to educate students to the best of their ability.
By signing this petition, you are calling on University of California officials to rethink how they evaluate their faculty members and to introduce teacher-friendly legislation back into evaluation policy.
Dear President Napolitano,
I am writing to you to express my concern over the current state of faculty evaluations at the University of California campuses. As you are no doubt aware, high research and publication output now plays a more important role in determining candidates for tenure and pay raises than do instructor effectiveness ratings. While such undivided attention to research and publications may bring the UC system additional income, it also severely jeopardizes the quality of education that it is able to provide for its students. While it is possible to find sources of funding elsewhere, the impact of a mediocre education is irreversible.
I therefore ask you to revise current faculty evaluation policies to reflect a greater emphasis on the importance of quality instruction. Moreover, please take into greater account student comments and concerns, since theirs is the population that the University of California is committed to serving.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Aegis Maelstrom, via Wikipedia