In early May, when the University of Texas System released much anticipated data used to measure faculty productivity, it came with a caveat: users were warned that the information had not been verified and could not yield "accurate analysis, interpretations or conclusions."
Today, the UT System released an updated data set. Even so, the system did include some cautionary notes about the data, including key points for each specific school. For example, the spreadsheet for the University of Texas at Austin — the data from which has received the most scrutiny — included a note saying, "The research expenditure data available shows equal distribution of funds between all individuals identified as the primary investigator (PI) and co-PIs on grants. We will be working over the next few weeks to better allocate these funds appropriately through interviews with the faculty."
Anthony de Bruyn, a spokesman for the UT System, said in a statement, "The System has been working diligently to review and verify the data and most of the data in the file are complete, with exceptions listed in the notes. Staff will continue to update the data and make it available to the public."
Even in its earlier draft form, the data caused a stir. A study by the conservative, Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity entitled “Faculty Productivity and Costs at the University of Texas at Austin,” used the data to make the case that a “moderate increase” in an emphasis on teaching at the flagship campus could generate significant savings. It asserted that if the 80 percent of faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach half as much as the 20 percent with the highest, tuition at the university could be cut in half.
Officials at UT and the UT System argued that the analysis was premature, given the unverified nature of the data.
Earlier today, the recently formed Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, released an analysis of the CCAP study, saying it was “flawed,” largely because administrators who also teach were presented as being among the least productive.
“These findings highlight the problem with applying manufacturing metrics to the education of students,” said Peter Flawn, former president of UT.
Michael Quinn Sullivan, the president of Empower Texans, a conservative activist group, issued a stern response to the coalition's analysis. “As expected," he said, "the so-called 'coalition for excellence' has done little but defend the job of college administrators in thwarting accountability, transparency and accessibility in higher education."
The new, mostly verified data, along with the relevant notes, can be downloaded on the left.