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Saturday, August 28, 2010

The New Administratively Centered University: Administrative Bloat At UT and Elsewhere

Apparently some animals are more equal than others when it comes to improving the human condition.

Below please find a summary of a report on Administrative Bloat as the real reason behind high costs at American universities.  You might wish to consider this in light of such facts as the UT Strategic Organization Committee proposal that is being rammed down our collective throat along with the multiple layers of  new high level administrator bureaucrat positions it creates; and the arbitrary $100 fee that is now being charged to Communication majors that goes to the general fund; and the $130 fee that new students are forced to take for so called orientation classes; and the perpetual administrative bonuses for friends of Jake; and so forth and so forth. 

You can use the links  provided to access the report itself. 

Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education

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Enrollment at America’s leading universities has been increasing dramatically, rising 

nearly 15 percent between 1993 and 2007. But unlike almost every other growing 

industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now 

have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate 

each student. In short, universities are suffering from “administrative bloat,” 

expanding the resources devoted to administration significantly faster than 

spending on instruction, research and service.

Between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students

 at America’s leading universities grew by 39 percent, while the number 

of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only grew by 18 percent. 

Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61 

percent during the same period, while instructional spending per student

 rose 39 percent. Arizona State University, for example, increased the number 

of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent during this period while 

actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research

 and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona 

State University are administrators.

A significant reason for the administrative bloat is that students pay only a 

small portion of administrative costs. The lion’s share of university resources

 comes from the federal and state governments, as well as private gifts and 

fees for non-educational services. The large and increasing rate of government 

subsidy for higher education facilitates administrative bloat by insulating students 

from the costs. Reducing government subsidies would do much to make 

universities more efficient.

We base our conclusions on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education

 Data System (IPEDS), which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Higher education institutions report basic information about enrollment, 

employment and spending in various categories to IPEDS, which then makes 

this systematically collected information publicly available. In this report, we 

focus on the 198 leading universities in the United States. They are the ones

 in IPEDS identified as four year colleges that also grant doctorates and engage

 in a high or very high level of research. This set includes all state flagship 

public universities as well as elite private institutions.

Read Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education here

Read Appendix B here

Media Coverage of Administrative Bloat in American Universities

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Verbatim A&S Council Resolution Concerning "Strategic" Reorganization

Below is the verbatim resolution passed by UT's Arts & Sciences Council at its first meeting of the 2010-11 academic year on August 24.  Bloggie suspects that the "strategic" in the committee's name as used by Prez Jacobs refers to his strategy of destroying meaningful faculty governance (and resultant quality education) at the College and Department level. 

To A&S Faculty:


On August 24 the A&S Council passed this resolution unanimously. We were very concerned with the negative consequences for the A&S College. The Committee on Strategic Organization is the so called Committee of Twelve that proposed radical changes to university and college structure.


David H. Davis

Council Secretary



Resolved that  the Arts and Sciences Council is opposed to the proposal for restructuring as presented at the June 28 leadership meeting in the document prepared by the presidentially appointed Committee on Strategic Organization. Any plans to re-organize the College should: (a) include a clear statement of demonstrated need for such a re-organization, (b) include a clear statement of projected goals for such re-organization, (c) respect the responsibility of faculty to oversee the curriculum and enhance student-centeredness, (d) allow departments to strengthen and enhance their programs, and (e) be in cooperation with involved faculty and students. In the spirit of collaboration, the Arts and Sciences Council further resolves that any future plans which directly apply to the College of Arts and Sciences should be developed and discussed with Council before any decision is made, lest meaningful self-governance of the College and its faculty be contravened.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Preliminary Report on Arts and Sciences Meeting of August 24

ASC Council productively discussed the so-called Strategic Organization Committee report.  

In the end Council passed a resolution opposing the SOC proposal for restructuring the College of Arts and Sciences on the grounds of the report's vagueness regarding goals and lack of any demonstrated need. Council also resolved that further restructuring plans be developed within the extant framework of meaningful self governance of the College and its faculty and students.

The resolution passed by voice vote without opposition and will be posted here verbatim as soon as a copy is available.  According to discussions at the meeting, the resolution will be distributed to the President's Office, other university administrators, the Collegian  and local media.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


As the concept of retention and faculty performance become intertwined I'm reminded of the story about two boys. The eldest was nine; his brother was seven. They were typical boys and generally got the blame for everything. Their parents became exasperated and sent the eldest to the stern old preacher at the church down the street. The young lad was sitting there and the preached said, "Do you know where God is?" The lad didn't answer but shook a little. The preacher asked a second time only in more severe tones, "Do you know where God is?" The lad was now quite shaken and when the preacher asked a third time he got up and ran home. He went immediately to the bedroom grabbed his younger brother and said, "We have to get packed and out of here." The younger brother asked, "Why?" The older brother responded, "God's missing and they're going to blame us."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome Back

So, we start again here at old UT. The excitement is palpable. This is edge of your chair stuff.

1. What will A & S look like at this time next year? (This is an annual question.)
2. Will I be located in the College of Post Apocalyptic Annihilation?
3. Will I be in the School of Flim Flam?
4. Will they just come and carry me away?
5. Will this year's buzzwords be "retention" or "undergraduate research"?
6. Will negotiations go the way they always go? (This means we will work next year without a contract.)
7. Will the Committee of 12 make public appearances?
8. Will the University continue to add administrators?
9. Will the State of Ohio pay faculty in IOUs while paying administrators in cash?

These are just a few of the happy thoughts accumulated over the summer. Have a great Fall.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chronicle Commentary on Imprudent University Investments


The article examines abuses of the so called "Prudent Investment Rule." You may recall a great deal of conversation a year or so back on UT investments. 


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Artist's Depiction of the State of The University

Author:  Unknown 
Medium:  #2 Pencil on photocopy paper box

Non Sequitur Cartoon

Dear Bloggie, O Virtualness,
I would have posted this myself--possibly referring to King Jake's Town Hall statement that those of us who do UT's work on our own time (which I seriously doubt applies to King Jake!) should be glad we have a job--but I couldn't get it to do anything. Maybe you can? If you think it's worth posting (I do!): the "Non Sequitur" comic from August 5. It is at the very least appropriate!
Falling prostrate at your virtual feet, I am
Your most humble
Yo, duh!

Monday, August 9, 2010

WSJ Review of "The Five-Year Party"

There seems to be a national trend . . .

By Melanie Kirkpatrick

If you have a child in college, or are planning to send one there soon, Craig Brandon has a message for you: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

"The Five-Year Party" provides the most vivid portrait of college life since Tom Wolfe's 2004 novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons." The difference is that it isn't fiction. The alcohol-soaked, sex-saturated, drug-infested campuses that Mr. Brandon writes about are real. His book is a roadmap for parents on how to steer clear of the worst of them.

Many of the schools Mr. Brandon describes are education-free zones, where students' eternal obligations—do the assigned reading, participate in class, hand in assignments—no longer apply. The book's title refers to the fact that only 30% of students enrolled in liberal-arts colleges graduate in four years. Roughly 60% take at least six years to get their degrees. That may be fine with many schools, whose administrators see dollar signs in those extra semesters.

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The Five-Year Party

By Craig Brandon
(BenBella, 235 pages, $14.95)

In an effort to win applicants, Mr. Brandon says, colleges dumb down the curriculum and inflate grades, prod students to take out loans they cannot afford, and cover up date rape and other undergraduate crime. The members of the faculty go along with the administration's insistence on lowering standards out of fear of losing their jobs.

As a former education reporter and a former writing instructor at Keene State College in New Hampshire, Mr. Brandon has both an insider's and an outsider's perspective on college life. While his focus is on the 10% of America's 4,431 liberal-arts colleges that he categorizes as "party schools," he applies many of his criticisms more widely—even to the nation's top-tier universities.

Mr. Brandon is especially bothered by colleges' obsession with secrecy and by what he sees as their misuse of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which Congress passed in 1974. Ferpa made student grade reports off-limits to parents. But many colleges have adopted an expansive view of Ferpa, claiming that the law applies to all student records. Schools are reluctant to give parents any information about their children, even when it concerns academic, disciplinary and health matters that might help mom and dad nip a problem in the bud.

Such policies can have tragic consequences, as was the case with a University of Kansas student who died of alcohol poisoning in 2009 and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student who committed suicide in 2000. In both instances there were warning signs, but the parents were not notified. Ferpa's most notorious failure was Seung-Hui Cho, the mentally ill Virginia Tech student who murdered 32 people and wounded 25 others during a daylong rampage in 2007. Cho's high school did not alert Virginia Tech to Cho's violent behavior, professors were barred from conferring with one another about Cho, and the university did not inform Cho's parents about their son's troubles—all on the basis of an excessively expansive interpretation of Ferpa, Mr. Brandon says. He recommends that parents have their child sign a Ferpa release form before heading off to college.

There are several omissions in "The Five-Year Party." One is the role of college trustees, who share the blame for the failure of the institutions over which they have oversight. Mr. Brandon also gives the faculty a pass. It is hard to believe that professors are as powerless or as cowed as they are portrayed here. The book's chief villains are a new breed of college administrators, whom Mr. Brandon says have more in common with Gordon Gekko than Aristotle.

Oddest of all is Mr. Brandon's failure to demand that students take responsibility for their conduct. He depicts them as victims of schools that either coddle them or take advantage of them and of a culture that discourages them from growing up. Mr. Brandon estimates that only 10% of the students at party schools are interested in learning. If that is right, colleges will have little incentive to shape up until their customers—students and parents—demand better.

No one who has been following the deterioration of higher education in recent years will be surprised by the portrait of campus life in "The Five-Year Party." The author's contribution is to compile news reports and scholarly studies into one volume, along with original reporting on campuses across the country. The galley proofs that went out to reviewers included an appendix listing 400-plus "party schools," including many well-known private and state institutions. For whatever reason, that appendix does not appear in the book's final version. Mr. Brandon does, however, point the finger at many schools in specific examples in the text.

"The Five-Year Party" is a useful handbook for parents to pack when they take their teenager on a college tour, and its list of suggested questions is smart. My favorite: How many of the school's professors send their own children there? More broadly, Mr. Brandon urges parents not to assume that their child is college material and to consider community colleges and vocational schools, whose curriculums tend to focus on teaching specific job skills.

Mr. Brandon's ideas for policy reform are uneven. A proposal for legislation that caps tuition increases to the rate of inflation may be unconstitutional if applied to private institutions and is a bad idea in any case; Washington shouldn't be dictating what schools can charge. Requiring students to pass a test administered by the College Board in order to get a diploma is another bad idea. It would be expensive and subject to ideological abuse. Repealing Ferpa might be the best place to start: The adults who pay the bills need to know what is happening to their kids on campus.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a former deputy editor of the Journal's editorial page.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rumors, Tidings, Questions, Titles

1. What ever happened to the BOT's performance review of President Lloyd Jacobs? It seems to have been buried deep, deep, deep. Does it perhaps echo uncomfortably the Faculty Senate review?

2. Apparently the President's recent attempt to start a "conversation" with the faculty--note that this highly contrived after-the-fact explanation is the current party line concerning the reception of the disastrously stupid Strategic Organization Committee report--concerns only the things he wants to "converse" about with only the exact people with whom he wants to converse. A curious definition of "conversation" this seems to be.

3. Note also that the Independent Collegian has some excellent articles and commentary in the latest issue dealing with the faux-communication style of the current administration. The lovely and talented David Nemeth also has a thought-provoking column in the current IC issue. See

At the request of a reader, here is the link to David Nemeth's column:

4. Concerning titles of UT administrators, the recent visit by "His Excellency" and the promotion of Provost Gold to "Chancellor" Gold has brought up the question of improved titles for UT administrators, many of whom seem to be suffering from title-envy. The fear is that they might leave the university if they were offered a more impressive title by another institution. Titular dignity is something at which they may actually be able to excel.

Bloggie would like to hear your ideas for appropriate new titles for high level UT administrators. "His Excellency" is already taken. And Bloggie claims "Your Virtualness" as Bloggie's own.