Monday, September 9, 2013

Florida kills its economics doctoral program

Coverage from the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Florida Alligator (alternative) student newspaper.

How can you be a flagship and not really have an economics department - let alone imagine that you will make it into the upper tier of public universities?

How can you deal with 600-some undergraduate majors with six faculty members and no gradual students?

More broadly, something is very wrong with Florida's accounting process. Economics majors are really cheap to produce: they consume almost entirely large chalk-and-talk lecture classes, along with a bit of computing. There are no expensive labs or other equipment, and not many small classes. The university should see the department as a profit center. That they do not suggests something is amiss with their budget process (probably having to do with accounting across units, in this case the busyness school and the arts and sciences faculty, as hinted at in the article).

Another way to think about this is as a selective salary cut for the remaining economics faculty. Graduate programs are essentially part of faculty compensation along with being an input into undergraduate teaching. Killing the doctoral program is an indirect reduction in faculty compensation, one that Florida can probably get away with given that the few faculty remaining in the department are relatively close to retirement and so unlikely to move.


Hat tips: Sarah Hamersma who, thankfully, has escaped to Syracuse.

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