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Issue of the Week: The Brain Drain

Headline Photo
 

Illustration by Josh Hagler

Daily Wildcat Perspectives Writers
ARIZONA DAILY WILDCAT

Thursday September 13, 2001

The University of Arizona is currently dealing with a lack of funds. It has been referred to, accurately or not, as the "brain drain." This phrase refers to the subsequent loss of faculty due to poor salaries and recruiting from higher paying institutions.

Some departments and colleges have seen a serious negative impact. The lack of faculty members has lead to fewer classes and larger class sizes. While this is an obvious affect of the "brain drain," the loss of talented and notable scholars may be less noticed-their positions and teaching responsibilities have been taken up by less experienced professors and graduate students.

The "brain drain" is due to a lack of funds at the University. The UA simply cannot offer the salaries and benefit packages that other institutions can. And it appears that the situation may get worse. Last week it was reported that, due to a state budget shortage, $14 million will be cut from the UA's 2002 budget.

The lack of funds can be blamed on several parties. Some people at the UA point their fingers at what they consider superfluous building projects, while others demand higher tuition. It should not be ignored that Hull and other state officials who resist raising taxes have limited the potential funds allocated to the university.

The UA community must speak loud enough so that UA officials, the Board of Regents, and the state government realize that this debilitating process must stop.


Red Rover, Red Rover

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Nick Zeckets

Two down this year and who knows how many more professors will go, in the Near Eastern Studies department. While the losses could be attributed to old age or simply the time to retire, there is a more telling issue at work in NES-recruiting hasn't been authorized. Under the trend of a slowly waning staff looms the truth that UA officials will not hire more professors.

Law and graduate schools along with premier undergraduate departments across the country play a dirty ratings game. Faculty quality is a major factor in determining a school or department's echelon. University of Cal-Berkeley may steal away a promising constitutional theorist or Harvard might entice one of Princeton's molecular biologists to come on over. These academic wars, akin to the childhood playground classic "Red Rover, Red Rover," are part of moving up.

Unfortunately, while the moving of minds goes on elsewhere in the collegiate community, the NES department at the UA has been restricted in its ability to climb. Honestly, I don't understand what allows the UA to pay professors more or to recruit better ones. However, it is apparent that money exists for funding on campus-the new Union construction, the ILC and plans for new dorms.

While those projects do hold worth, perhaps their priority should be lowered below that of raising faculty quality and maintaining those great professors UA already has.

"Brain drain?" More succinctly, a "poorer college." Let the Board of Regents do what it must to keep those who are valued and to recruit the minds the UA needs to be a top tier institution.

Nick Zeckets is a political science and near-Eastern studies senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


This is issue number one of poly sci

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Shane Dale

The University should not ignore Monday's front-page story about the political science department. Poly sci is crashing hard with no relief in sight. Ten classes were cancelled this fall, and last year alone, the department lost seven professors.

More students and fewer professors is not a good combination in any educational system, and unfortunately, the state of Arizona is in a budget crunch at the moment. Obviously, larger classes and fewer teachers-and perhaps equally important, the lack of quality and experienced professors-lead to an education of a substantially lower quality. The classes may end up being easier for students, but an easy road to graduation won't pave an easy road to success in the real world.

Raising state taxes may seem like the only answer at the moment. But most taxpayers in the state will stand firmly against a tax hike, and rightfully so.

As in any school-elementary, high school or college-money must be spent responsibly. This means that the first-and dare I say, the only- priority for any institution of learning is education. Parents spend money to send their children here to learn, and if education comes at the expense of other non-essential programs on campus, so be it.

There's a lot of money out there not spent on education right now, and it's costing my department big time. It adds up after a while, and this is issue number one for the poly sci department.

Shane Dale is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


Lucky is an understatement

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Jessica Lee

In the attempt to inquire if "the brain drain" was affecting my department, I found it difficult to get in touch with anyone. I suppose that is a fantastic sign for the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science. At least I know that there are professors, and that they are all busy being professors.

Us SWES-ers are lucky to have not lost any faculty this year. Professor Arthur W. Warrick, who teaches soil physics, did not lose any of his colleagues this fall to other universities. When asked why he thought the department was so fortunate, he commented, "We've been lucky, and also because the Dean and department head are very understanding to the needs of its faculty."

I also managed to track down Wayne Adickes, the Assistant Department Head (Operations) of the department of Chemistry, which is my minor. "In fact," he said, "Yes, we are being affected by the campus-wide brain drain." The chemistry department, unfortunately, lost one of their most outstanding teachers and researchers, Jacquelyn Jervay-Hauge, to the University of California-Davis.

If that wasn't bad enough, they had had to scramble to add resources and space to keep six other faculty members and two members of their research unit staff who were being heavily recruited. That could only mean two things-the chemistry department has an awesome staff worth fighting for, and they were very lucky.

It shouldn't be up to "luck" that we have outstanding professors in our classes. Not only does the university need to shift their priorities, but also the students need to stop complaining about tuition increases. What we get out of our education is only what we put into it.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


English department is unable to compete

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Zack Armstrong

So, the brain drain hasn't really affected the English department. I talked with Professor Thomas Willard, and he said that while some members of the faculty have left over the years, they leave for various reasons that are not always financial. He also said that professors have loyalties both to the institution and the profession, and sometimes, they just find a better place for themselves.

The problem seems to be that the English department has never had the funds to compete with other institutions that it should be able to compete with. The problem is that it can't attract and keep the younger generation of professors because it doesn't offer the same packages and benefits that other institutions are offering.

Older professors are fantastic, but they retire from time to time. We need to get younger professors, so they can remain within the department for years.

It isn't wise to limit the funding for the study and practice of the national language. This is particularly true considering that, what with the state of public education, a good number of high school seniors barely know English.

Science is important too, but the funding between departments needs to be rebalanced. I don't want to have to be the one who gets to decide which department gets more, but if I get a phone call from the powers-that-be, I won't hesitate to offer my guidance and my wisdom. You guys have my number, right? Cause, I remember giving it to you the other night at the Meet Rack, but seeing as how you didn't exactly∑ how shall I put it∑ have any pockets when you left, I'll understand if you lost it.

Anyway, I'm listed so...

Zack Armstrong is a creative writing senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


Spanish department to attractive to leave

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Laura Winsky

Perhaps I am a lucky student belonging to a lucky department. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese has truly been unaffected by the big, bad "brain drain."

Isela Gonzales has been witness to an excellent longevity within the faculty. "Into this academic year, we haven't seen any faculty leave, and the department really hasn't been affected in the last two or three years, " she said. In her opinion, Gonzales has seen healthy interaction among the faculty of the department that other departments on campus might not experience. "We have frequent faculty meetings, and the department head really plays a role in the professor's activities."

Gonzales pointed out that a reason that faculty in the Spanish department are reluctant to look outside the University of Arizona for better or higher-paying work might simply be that most faculty in the department have been with the UA for many years and have established their lives, homes and families here.

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Illustration by Josh Hagler

There is also the possibility that travel may play a role.

Faculty is encouraged to bring culture into the classroom and bring the students out into Spanish speaking areas. Students are supplied with information on where to speak both Spanish and Portuguese, where to eat, dance and listen to music of Latin descent in Tucson. The department also makes available opportunities for the students to travel and study in Guadalajara, Monterey, D.F., Madrid, Spain and Fortaleza, Brazil to name a few. And the UofA's location in Tucson is ideal for these excursions and programs.

Perhaps it is easier to forget that UA salaries aren't quite as competitive as they should be when one is teaching in a great department with occasional opportunities to "viajar!"

Laura Winsky is a Spanish senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 
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