The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved its budget (the University’s Current Funds budget) for 2018. The budget continues several unfortunate trends that negatively impact students, as well as faculty.
Students continue to pay a higher percentage of the cost of their education in the form of higher tuition and increased student fees. As the following chart demonstrates, tuition and student fees account for 39% of all UC revenue in 2018. This is an increase of almost 10% from the 29% in 2009.
State funding, following a national trend, has continued to decrease. The state now provides 17% of UC’s operating support, a 15% decrease from the 21% in 2009.
Finally, the increased reliance on tuition and student fees reflects not only increases in the amounts charged by each but also the number of students enrolled at UC. At the start of 2008-2009, UC had the equivalent of 25,594 fulltime students (FTEs). By 2016-2017 the number of student FTEs had increased by 16.4 to 34,476.
While the number of student FTEs increased dramatically, the percentage of fulltime faculty remained flat, dropping slightly from 1,728 to 1,726. This results in increased class sizes and reliance on part-time faculty.
The Life of Ideas
It was the “life of ideas” that led Sarah Stitzlein to become a professor at UC’s School of Education.
Stitzlein studied philosophy and mathematics as an undergraduate, but states, “I wanted to have an impact on the world, to figure out how to apply those ideas to make a difference. So I began to transition into working on educational policy and with schools, receiving my doctorate in philosophy of education.”
Stitzlein’s work and teaching is split between the School of Education and the Philosophy Department. Her work bridges the theoretical and the practical in the field of education. She states, “I try to buck the image of simply being a pie in the sky thinker. I spend time each week volunteering in my local school, Sands Montessori in Mt. Washington, so that my ideas on education reform are seated in reality.”
She teaches many different classes that often change from semester to semester. “I especially enjoy the course I am doing this semester, Save Our Schools! Education Controversy and Reform.” Students in the course work directly with local non-profits to address issues of educational inequality. Pay It Forward grants for $2,000 are awarded to the organizations that the students deem are doing the best jobs. Students also present their ideas for education reform to a panel of state Senators and Representatives providing the opportunity to directly impact educational policy.
Like most faculty, Stitzlein does adhere to standard 9 to 5 workday. “As a single mother, I juggle commitments of getting my kindergartener to/from school and spending important quality time with him. I also have to teach many of my classes in the evening to meet the needs of practicing teachers who work during the day. So while I may have early meetings on campus, I sometimes must step out to get my son off the bus, only to return to teach as late as 10:00 pm on campus. To meet the needs of students, especially in my online classes, I respond to emails and grade papers throughout the weekend.”
In her free-time, Stitzlein is an avid runner. She has qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon, along with two Flying Pig and three Columbus marathons. A knee injury and childbirth have caused her to focus recently on local half marathons and 10Ks, but she “hopes to be back to the longer ones soon.”
Stitzlein notes that the School of Education and teaching face tremendous challenges, “The biggest struggle we’ve faced in the School of Education since I arrived is declining numbers of students who want to be teachers. In today’s political environment, where attacks on teachers are rampant and pay for teachers is low, it’s hard to attract new teachers to the field. This means that I now have to “sell” my field to more UC students to get them to consider teaching as a career.”
Yet, she remains optimistic. “I hope my work leads to better informed educational policy and practice that is aligned with justice, equality, and vibrant democratic life. I believe my students will have real impact on making schools better and help our democracy function better.”