UT Considers Incentive Plan
The University of Texas Board of Regents is meeting this week to consider a new incentive program for University presidents and other executives. The program would offer bonus pay based on factors such as graduation rates, alumni donations, and philanthropic giving. Governor Rick Perry is on board with the idea. "The governor is very supportive of the concept of incentive pay," says Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. "It helps create a climate that encourages people to do their best." Perry appears to have some company. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has reportedly recommended approval of the plan.
The plan also has its detractors. Thomas Lindsay is the director of higher education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He tells KTRH the idea of incentives is okay, but this plan misses the biggest issue at UT. "UT-Austin scores in the lowest quartile among peer schools, on the criterion of how much students learn from their freshman to their senior year." While this incentive program is based on graduation rates as a measure of student performance, Lindsay says actual knowledge levels are a better barometer. "The thing that more than anything else should define excellence in education...is...increasing the knowledge (students) have from the time they come in as freshman until the time they leave as seniors."
It remains to be seen whether or not a program like this actually succeeds in raising UT student learning rates out of the bottom quarter. But Frazier with the Governor's Office says it's a good place to start. "Across the board, we know that incentive pay works," she tells KTRH. "When a person has certain benchmarks put before them and is offered the chance to receive a reward for meeting those benchmarks, you see improvement and better performance."