I had a short twitter ‘discussion’ with Matt Mayer of the Buckeye Institute earlier this week regarding Kasich’s plan to force college professors to teach more classes and spend less time doing research.

Matt seems to think professors who were hired specifically for their research abilities, who are often funded by grants from private industry and who bring notoriety and a great deal of funding and revenue to their Universities, ought to be spending more time teaching Chemistry 101 instead of working on research with their grad students.

Here’s a short list of reasons why this is a really bad idea:

  1. It will make tuition more expensive, as forcing federally and industry funded researchers to give up their grants to spend more time teaching will reduce University revenue. Ohio University, for example, brought in “$8.2 million in income from its research technologies in fiscal year 2010 … from licenses for health and medical advances for growth hormone and thyroid disorders.” And Case Western in Cleveland brings in over twice that much every year.
  2. It will deprive students of the single biggest educational advantage of attending a large research university – the opportunity to learn research in the labs of people actually doing cutting edge research.
  3. It will drive the best professors out of public institutions and into private institutions, where they will continue to balance research and teaching, but they will make more money and teach more well-off students.
  4. It will make Ohio Universities less attractive to top STEM graduate students, who are exactly the type of young adults we want to attract.
  5. It will diminish the research profile of our major universities, which is important because all of those famous venture capital playgrounds like Silicon Valley and Research Triangle always sprout up around hubs of major University research (Stanford/Berkeley, Duke/UNC, etc.)

We expect this professors-are-just-overpaid-union-thugs kind of thinking from the mind of John Kasich, whose anti-labor goggles seem to block him from seeing the bigger picture.

But I really do expect a little more from Matt Mayer. If anything, I’d expect Matt to be pushing for legislation to help get more private funding for research at our state universities and to help increase the licensing revenue it generates.

 

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