O’Donnell Report Misuses Data, Higher Ed Coalition Says

A new paper that criticizes faculty productivity at UT and A&M is a misuse of public data, according to a statement released today by the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education.

Rick O’Donnell, who recently settled with UT after briefly serving as a special advisor to the Board of Regents before being fired, argues in his report that eliminating the least-productive faculty members at UT would save the University enough money to “completely eliminate tuition.”

According to O’Donnell’s analysis, nearly half the faculty at UT should be let go.

“The data that the Boards of Regents of the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have made public is now being misused to diminish the stature of our state’s public research institutions,” the coalition’s response states. “We call on the Boards of Regents of the University of Texas and Texas A&M University to stand publicly with the universities they are appointed to support and govern, and call on our state’s leaders to advocate a higher standard of conduct and conversation on how best to improve our institutions of higher education.”

UT’s engineering dean, Greg Fenves, told the Texas Tribune that while O’Donnell measures productivity based on how much money faculty bring in, a better measure would be their research output. A previous white paper O’Donnell wrote has been widely discredited, and critics say his approach to measuring productivity is too simple.

O’Donnell’s report categorizes faculty as “dodgers,” “coasters,” “sherpas,” “pioneers,” or “stars,” based on their teaching loads and external research funding. The coalition considers these terms insulting.

“While there is always room for improvement,” the coalition statement reads, “there is no place for name-calling and denigrating the hard-earned national reputations of Texas public institutions of higher education.”

Read the rest of the statement below:
Rick O’Donnell Response

 Photo courtesy Marsha Miller


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