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CHE reports new plan for achieving tenure--Journal expense cited Albert Henderson 25 Jun 1998 21:25 UTC

Rob Atkinson <atkinson@FNAL.GOV> calls our attention:

> The June 26th issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, on page A12,
> carries a feature on a plan currently being promoted by a group of
> scholars, and supported in part, by the ARL, to alter the way in which
> tenure is earned, by allowing for the acceptance of superior "grades" on
> papers, as given by independent review panels.  It is thought that this
> would decrease the dependence the tenure process has on journal
> publication, and give greater validity to other forms of communication,
> such as Web sites, which might cause journal subscription prices to drop.
> The piece covers the issue of the high cost of journal subscriptions, Paul
> Ginsparg, and electronic dissemination of papers.

Just for accuracy sake, the plan comes from provosts,
not scholars. Provosts may have been scholars or
scientists at one time. But once they are told they are
managers, they forget about the academic mission and
act like bureaucrats.

The article left out the bit about how the new plan
would justify further cutting library funds, now
averaging far below the ACRL standard (C&RLN
April 1995). The brief  reference to the Pew Higher
Education Roundtable denotes the March issue of
Policy Perspectives. The first paragraph of the
unsigned report supplies a perfunctory confession:

  "For two decades the leaders of America's
  universities and colleges have sought relief
  from the growing costs of providing access to
  an ever expanding volume of scholarly output."

Savor that for a moment. The candor is unique.
Universities compete for sponsored research,
brag about their output, then seek relief from
spending money in the library so they can invest
in real estate, give themselves interest free loans,
travel, and hire greater numbers of bureaucrats.
Yale recently gave itself a new VP in charge of
New Haven while letting Stanford overtake its
no. 2 rank in acquisitions spending.

I can cite several reports that show libraries getting an
ever smaller share of university spending. Digest of
Education Statistics shows that by 1993 libraries and
instruction lost (13% and 15%, respectively) of their
1946 share. Administration gained a massive 42%!

Most college and university libraries now get 3% or less
according to a National Center of Education Statistics
report issued last year.

In The American University (1968), Jacques Barzun
maintained that universities like Columbia spent 6%
of their funds on the library. The Mellon Foundation
report issued in 1993 listed Columbia at 2.9% in 1990.
James Shapiro surveys the damage in CHRONICLE
OF HIGHER EDUCATION Dec 12 1997 p. B4-5.

The 1986 ACRL standard stipulates that the library's
annual authorized expenditures shall be at least six
percent of  the total institutional expenditure for
educational and general purposes. Would we be
wrong to call any library not meeting that mark

Can anyone doubt that the provosts' new plan is
yet another excuse to feather the administrative nest?

Albert Henderson, Editor,