Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Can Anyone Explain This?

In doing my research on law schools’ 509 disclosures for today’s post, I noticed something odd. For 2013, Hofstra had a student/faculty ratio of 18.19 to 1. I had remembered Hofstra as having a ratio of about 15 to 1 for the last few years, so I decided to double check. For 2012, Hofstra’s student/faculty ratio was 15 to 1. This is a very significant decline of over 20% for one year. (In 2009, it was 15.4 to 1 (U.S. News April 2010).)

Let me give you an example of how much it takes to cause a change this significant in the student/faculty ratio. Say a law school has 1,000 students and 50 faculty (as counted under the ABA standards interpretation 402-1). That school would have a student/faculty ratio of 20 to 1. Assume that next year, the school loses 100 students. The student/faculty ratio would improve to 18 to 1. Instead, assume that the school gained 100 students. The student faculty/ratio would decline to 22 to 1. On the other hand, if a law school had 1000 students and 55 faculty, the student/faculty ratio would be 18.18 to one. This is junior high math.

For Hofstra’s student faculty ratio to have declined 20%, they would have admitted a significant number of new students, lost a significant number of faculty, or a combination of both. Over the last few years Hofstra’s enrollment has declined, and I don’t think they have lost a significant number of faculty members so Hofstra’s decline in student faculty ratio is a mystery. If anyone has an explanation, please make a comment.

(Scott Fruehwald)


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No Kent, that isn't the answer. Your figures involve a decline in adjuncts, and they have only a small impact on the student/faculty ratio. Hofstra’s adjuncts declined from 64 to 37 from the spring to the fall. While this may seem like a significant drop, it does not affect the student/faculty ratio. Also, I think you are looking at the wrong year.

According to the ABA interpretation, “In computing the student/faculty ratio, full-time equivalent teachers are those who are employed as full-time teachers on tenure track or its equivalent who shall be counted as one each plus those who constitute “additional teaching resources” as defined below. No limit is imposed on the total number of teachers that a school may employ as additional teaching resources, but these additional teaching resources shall be counted at a fraction of less than 1 and may constitute in the aggregate up to 20 percent of the full-time faculty for purposes of calculating the student/faculty ratio.
(A) Additional teaching resources and the proportional weight assigned to each category include:
(i) teachers on tenure track or its equivalent who have administrative duties beyond those normally performed by full-time faculty members: 0.5; (ii) clinicians and legal writing instructors not on tenure track or its equivalent who teach a full load: 0.7; and (iii) adjuncts, emeriti faculty who teach, non-tenure track administrators who teach, librarians who teach, and teachers from other units of the university: 0.2.”

In the fall, Hofstra had 37 adjuncts. Under the interpretation that’s 7.4 professors. Hofstra had 5 other full-time. That’s 3.5 professors. Finally, Hofstra had 6 deans, librarians, and others who teach. That’s 3 professors. The above adds up to 16.4 professors. Hofstra had 42 professors who count as one. 20% of 42 is 8.4. So even though Hofstra had 16.4 extra resources, they can count only 8.4 to the student/faculty ratio. Consequently, the fact that Hofstra had even more adjuncts the previous year is irrelevant.

In sum, I still haven’t seen a reasonable explanation for Hofstra’s drop.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Mar 14, 2014 11:30:33 AM

I would think, given the change in student population in the two years from 106 to 979, the number of faculty would need to decrease by about 18% to get the increase in student/faculty ratio you mentioned. The faculty numbers from Fall to Spring, as I mentioned, decreased 23%, although I am not sure exactly how they calculate these things, it does not seem like a mystery. I would think as the class sizes going forward are smaller and the total student body settles in perhaps a 650-750 range, this ratio will improve considerably.

Posted by: Kent | Mar 14, 2014 9:45:11 AM

Scott -- I think the answer is in the Standard 509 report for 2013 (Linked in the above comment -- I could not access the 2012 one -- the link does not work). It says that the number of professors declined from 116 to 90, I am not sure which calendar year this is addressing. So, doing nothing more than Junior High math, that's a 23 percent drop. Anyway, Hofstra's 1L class sizes did not start declining substantially until Fall 2012, so I suspect the overall student body size (which includes the larger classes admitted the two previous years) had not dropped as quickly as the faculty size did. Anyway, that's what it looks like to me without running the numbers.

Posted by: Kent | Mar 14, 2014 9:20:27 AM

The interpretation is not that complicated. In any case, I would think that the administration would double-check the figures, especially considering that 509 states "schools shall use due diligence in obtaining and verifying such information." Finally, someone would have noticed such a dramatic change in the student/faculty ratio between years.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Mar 12, 2014 9:44:44 AM

Maybe they were miscalculating faculty in previous years (the rules for counting faculty aren't quite as complicated as the Internal Revenue Code but they're not junior high math either!)

Posted by: James Edward Maule | Mar 12, 2014 5:53:29 AM

Yes, and, in this case, the faculty/student ratio should have gotten better, not worse.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Mar 11, 2014 6:23:51 PM

It appears that the student population -- and in particular the 1L class -- got significantly smaller at Hofstra Law from 2012 to 2013. Compare the current 509 report at http://law.hofstra.edu/_site_support/files/pdf/admissions/jdprogram/Standard-509-Info-Report.pdf with the 2012 report at https://web.archive.org/web/20130806020307/http://law.hofstra.edu/_site_support/files/pdf/admissions/jdprogram/Standard-509-Info-Report.pdf.">http://law.hofstra.edu/_site_support/files/pdf/admissions/jdprogram/Standard-509-Info-Report.pdf.">https://web.archive.org/web/20130806020307/http://law.hofstra.edu/_site_support/files/pdf/admissions/jdprogram/Standard-509-Info-Report.pdf.

Posted by: Scott Frey | Mar 11, 2014 5:24:53 PM

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