12.9.13

MANAGING THE DECLINE.

In 2006, I mocked the University of Florida. "The University of Florida is discovering that attempting to pass off Yugo U. as Fairlane U. isn't going to work terribly well." Their merit pay policy, such as it was, reduced to "if you can find a better offer, perhaps we'll match it."  Or not.  State officials pursued a policy of proliferating degree mills.  Key point for today's return to Florida: "[T]he creation of additional capacity that looks like a degree mill is unlikely to make good use of tax dollars, and the imposition of the responsibilities of a degree mill on faculty who aspire to more is unlikely to do much for their morale."

In the latest development, even upwardly mobile Florida takes on more of the aspect of a degree mill.
Like many public universities, the University of Florida faced significant budget cuts in the recent economic downturn. Such cuts led to reductions and eliminations of Ph.D. programs across the country, including at Florida, where the computer-science, engineering, psychology, and statistics programs have downsized. But it is rare for an economics program to be on the chopping block.

The number of economics Ph.D. programs housed in business colleges has held steady since 2008, according to a survey of 407 American institutions accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and the job market for new economics Ph.D.'s is relatively healthy. In 2010-11, almost 89 percent of all economics graduates who sought employment got jobs, and 62 percent of those landed academic positions, according to a survey of 191 economics departments by the Center for Business and Economic Research.
The economics faculty is extremely small for a university its size, and the graduate faculty have been admitting new Ph.D. students only in alternating years.

If university administrators think their economics departments are rebellious and too prone to speak back now, they ought keep in mind that fewer Ph.D.s coming into the pipeline from inter alia Florida and Case Western and Emory (all solid programs) further skews the job market in the economists' favor.

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