An article in today’s edition of Inside Higher Ed details Georgia Gwinnett College’s practice of handing out free cell phones to professors in an attempt to improve student-faculty communications and encourage students to stay in school. According college officials, the plan is working: 75 % of sophomores are returning to school, double the rate of other schools with an open-admission policy.
The program costs about $350,000, or roughly $1,000 per professor. As long as they put the cell phone numbers on their syllabi, Faculty members are not required to keep office hours–leading to increased productivity, school officials say.
The program is not without controversy. School officials recognize that the program may not be popular with state legislators looking to make further budget cuts during the recession. Some professors commenting on the story are leery of the program, citing privacy concerns and income-tax liability issues, and the further degradation of higher education, although others wish their colleges would give them free cell phones.