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Sunday, December 30, 2012

WSJ Article on "Hire Education"

Wow, what a notion!  A president who asks questions instead of issuing imperial decrees.


WSJ front page story on 12/29:


  Deans List: Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy—And Tuition By DOUGLAS BELKIN and SCOTT THURM The Wall Street Journal. Online Edition. Saturday, December 29, 2012.-=-
MINNEAPOLIS—When Eric Kaler became president of the University of Minnesota last year, he pledged to curb soaring tuition by cutting administrative overhead. But he hit a snag: No one could tell him exactly what it cost to manage the school.

Like many public colleges, the University of Minnesota went on a spending spree over the past decade, paid for by a steady stream of state money and rising tuition. Officials didn't keep close tabs on their payroll as it swelled beyond 19,000 employees, nearly one for every 31Ž2 students. "The more questions I asked, the less happy I was," Dr. Kaler said.

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Jenn Ackerman

Students walk through campus at the University of Minnesota.

Many of the newly hired, it turns out, were doing little teaching. A Wall Street Journal analysis of University of Minnesota salary and employment records from 2001 through last spring shows that the system added more than 1,000 administrators over that period. Their ranks grew 37%, more than twice as fast as the teaching corps and nearly twice as fast as the student body.

Across U.S. higher education, nonclassroom costs have ballooned, administrative payrolls being a prime example. The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50% faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Education says. It's part of the reason that tuition, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has risen even faster than health-care costs.

How Administrative Spending Boosts College Costs
Compare the amounts spent on all education-related expenses per student in 2010-11 and how much of that was for administrative costs at 72 public universities with high research activity.

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More photos and interactive graphics 

The University of Minnesota illustrates the trend. Its main Twin Cities campus had the largest share of employees classified as "executive/administrative and managerial" among the 72 "very-high-research" public universities in the 2011-12 academic year, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education. Minnesota officials say the figures are misleading because not all schools report administrative spending the same way.

At Minnesota, tuition and fees for state residents have more than doubled in a decade, to $13,524. That far exceeds the average at four-year public colleges of $8,655, which also represents a doubling, according to the College Board. Private-college tuition averages $29,056, but has risen more slowly.

For students, the effect is striking. In 1975, a University of Minnesota undergraduate could cover tuition by working six hours a week year-round at a minimum-wage job, the Journal calculated. Today, a student would have to work 32 hours at minimum wage to cover the cost.

Gregory Kiss, a sophomore business major, expects to graduate owing more than $30,000. Trying to economize, he bought a dining plan that provides only 10 meals a week.

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A series looking at the rising costs of higher education in the U.S.

Shift to Merit Scholarships Stirs Debate 

Who Can Still Afford State U? 

Federal Lending Push Swells Student Debt 

Dropping Out: Millions Struggle WIth High College Debt and No Degree 

New Peril for Parents: Their Kids' Student Loans 

College Debt Hits Well-Off 

Full Coverage: Price of Admission 

Mr. Kiss tapped a nerve when he launched a website listing campus events where free food was to be had. He has attended lectures about evangelical Christianity, (with free Korean BBQ), cell regeneration (burritos) and something called "the feast of nations," which he says was the tastiest.

"I think it's a good school and it's a good value, but I know I'm going to be paying it off for a long time," Mr. Kiss says.

The bureaucracy finds numerous ways to spend money. Officials have spent millions planning a not-yet-built residential community 20 miles from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus designed in part to showcase sustainable energy and environmental stewardship.

Administrative employees make up an increasing share of the university's higher-paid people. The school employs 353 people earning more than $200,000 a year. That is up 57% from the inflation-adjusted pay equivalent in 2001. Among this $200,000-plus group, 81 today have administrative titles, versus 39 in 2001.

Administrators making over $300,000 in inflation-adjusted terms rose to 17 from seven.

Many forces besides administrative overhead add to universities' cost pressures, among them health-care and retirement expenses. And among the administrative spending, some is unavoidable, such as that owing to federal rules requiring greater spending to oversee research grants or accommodations for students with disabilities.

Schools also compete—by necessity, they say—to offer fancier dorms, dining halls, gyms and other amenities, to raise their rankings and attract students. "It's a competitive business, and institutions compete for students the same way Lexus and Mercedes compete for car buyers," says Paul Lingenfelter, executive director of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.



With total student-loan debt approaching the trillion-dollar mark, WSJ's Jason Bellini deconstructs how we got here and what it all means. Image: Getty

To compete, schools have stepped up borrowing for construction. Total debt at public four-year colleges more than tripled between 2002 and 2011, to $88 billion, according to the Department of Education. At the University of Minnesota, the yearly cost of servicing debt more than doubled to $106 million in that time.
For decades, public universities were somewhat insulated from financial rigor by steadily increasing state funding. That has slowed or stopped in many states in tight budgetary times. Minnesota's government last year contributed $570 million to university operations, which was about the same as in the 2003-04 school year despite inflation and roughly 10% increased enrollment.

Higher education now faces pressures similar to those that reshaped other segments, Minnesota's Dr. Kaler says. "You look at American industry in general—the car industry got comfortable until the Japanese showed up, the airline industry was comfortable until it got deregulated," he says. "Now it's higher ed's turn."

Academia's contemplative culture can provide fertile ground for growth in bureaucracy. In a speech after becoming president, Dr. Kaler told the story of 33 words inscribed on the auditorium in 1936. It took the creation of an inscription committee, the hiring of an "inscription consultant"—and 12 years—before chisel met stone, he said.

The number of employees at the University of Minnesota with "human resources" or "personnel" in their job title—272—has increased by a third since the 2004-2005 academic year, a period during which the enrollment grew approximately 8%.

In its Office of Equity and Diversity, the number of people with "director" in their title grew to 10 in the 2011-2012 school year from just four directors five years earlier, by a university official's count.

Growth in the diversity office is an attempt to make the campus "more inclusive and more welcoming to people of different backgrounds," Dr. Kaler says.

Caution fed bureaucratic growth after the school agreed to pay the federal government $32 million in 1998 to settle allegations relating to sales of an unlicensed transplant drug. The school acknowledged mismanagement of grant funds, and the National Institutes of Health put its grant applications under special scrutiny, creating research delays and faculty departures.

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Jenn Ackerman for The Wall Street Journal

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, center, is tackling costs.

To prevent a repeat, officials imposed "fairly onerous bureaucratic processes," said R. Timothy Mulcahy, vice president for research. He said the university "evolved a very, very risk-averse, very, very conservative culture."

Several years ago, Russell Luepker, a professor of epidemiology at the school of public health, sought reimbursement for a $12 parking bill. The form went from a secretary to the head of his department to an accountant who entered it in a computer to a senior accountant responsible for approving it. Richard Portnoy, chief administrative officer in the epidemiology department, estimates it cost $75 to move the paperwork. When Dr. Luepker heard of it, he stopped filing for parking reimbursements.

The Journal, using payroll data provided by the university, calculated that across all of the system's campuses, administrators consume 24% of the payroll, up from 20% in 2001. Employees who teach, such as professors, lecturers and instructors, account for 37% of the payroll, down from 39% in 2001, the Journal calculated.

The university hasn't maintained a consistent definition of an administrative employee through the years. The Journal based its analysis on 151 job titles the university classified as executive, administrative or managerial at some point between 2001 and 2012.

image]Jenn Ackerman for The Wall Street Journal

Sophomore Gregory Kiss saves by finding events with free food.

To make year-to-year comparison valid, the Journal included all 151 such job titles for each year. Likewise, the Journal's totals for teaching jobs include all 42 job titles the university has considered instructional at some point between 2001 and 2012.

The university said many employees at the school wear several hats, so that some who have administrative titles also teach, and some job titles don't accurately describe the work an employee actually does.

In June, the university did its own analysis of compensation, which totals well over $1 billion a year. One conclusion it reached was that salary and fringe benefits for those in "leadership"—previously 6% of the compensation total—had risen to 7% of total compensation.

A university spokesman, Chuck Tombarge, said administrative efforts such as giving guidance to students do generate benefits. He pointed to the Twin Cities campus's rate of four-year graduation: about 58% in 2008, up from 41% in 2002.

Dr. Kaler, in his inaugural address in September 2011, criticized the costs of "long meetings, excessive committee deliberations and endless email chains" that contribute to a "tangled web of bureaucracy that dogs us." He pledged to reduce administrative expenses.

One hurdle: The system's chief financial officer, Richard Pfutzenreuter III, says that while he can track the cost of heating a particular floor of a building or of serving a cafeteria meal, he can't specify elements of the hierarchy such as how many people report to each manager. The human-resources system doesn't track such chain-of-command information, he said, because "it wasn't a priority in the past."

Streamlining the chain of command has proved important in controlling costs elsewhere. A 2010 analysis of the University of California Berkeley by Bain & Co. found that supervisors oversaw an average of 5.1 employees. The school raised that to 7.1 and saved $20.5 million annually, says Andrew Szeri, dean of Berkeley's graduate division.

Dr. Kaler ordered a review of Minnesota's spending. A survey found that in the system, which has about 43,800 undergraduates and 68,400 students in all, people were calling 73 different numbers for help with computer trouble. He is trying to reduce that to one.

Some things the school uses money for are arguably distant from its teaching mission. Since 2006, it has spent $10 million on consultants and others for UMORE Park, a planned 30,000-resident community that the university will build on land it has 20 miles from the Twin Cities campus.

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School officials say the community reflects the changing mission of a public university in the 21st century. They also say it will one day yield a large return, partly from gravel that can be extracted on the land and sold.

Meanwhile, however, the project is decades from completion but already has four staff members, including a $171,000-a-year director.

The University of Minnesota system employs 139 people in its promotions, marketing and communications departments. It has spent more than $8 million since 2006 on an ad campaign to buff its image. A university spokesman said these efforts encourage donations that, in part, help fund scholarships.

When state funding initially grew tighter, Dr. Kaler's predecessor, Robert Bruininks, says he responded with a wide range of steps that included freezing or reducing salaries, eliminating 14 car allowances, restructuring the health-care and retirement systems and closing dozens of extension-school offices. Dr. Bruininks said he "reduced the number of vice presidents by three during my last year," and "we reduced the number of deans by three in closing and combining colleges."

The austerity measures weren't evenly distributed. Traditionally, professors who had temporarily taken administrative roles but were returning to teaching have been given a year of paid leave to refresh their skills. The pay traditionally was not at their higher administrative level but the academic level.

Before leaving last year, Dr. Bruininks approved more than $2 million of such transition packages, in some cases at the employees' higher administrative salaries.

An uproar that ensued when the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on the payments earlier this year led the school's Board of Regents to tighten its oversight of the packages, diminishing the president's discretion. Dr. Bruininks said that the dollar amount was high in part because there were so many administrators transitioning back to academia and that the packages were appropriate "to attract and retain leaders in higher education."

Dr. Kaler has a salary of $610,000 and his chief of staff of $195,000. Minnesota's governor makes $120,000. Mr. Kaler, 56, said his pay "is competitive in the marketplace." He has turned down an $18,000 raise.

Among his efforts to economize, Dr. Kaler said he recently eliminated the office of academic administration after its head took a job elsewhere. He said the move will cut 5.5 full-time positions, including a senior vice president who earned $300,000-plus.

Dr. Kaler said he wants to bring discipline, accountability and transparency to the school's administration. Fifteen months into the job, he figures he is about 45% of the way there.

To Dr. Luepker, in the public-health department, such goals are up against an institutional inertia that inhibits the periodic streamlining common in business. "We establish things and programs and they never quite go away," Dr. Luepker says. "They're nice people and they're colleagues and they're good people…but in this environment, you have to ask can we continue to do this?"

Write to Douglas Belkin at doug.belkin@wsj.com and Scott Thurm at scott.thurm@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared December 29, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Deans List: Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy—And Tuition.




Copyright 2012. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In the Running for Dean of One of the 13(?) New Colleges


The Secret Selection Process is Underway.  You Will be Notified of the 
Results if You Have a Need to Know. 

Applicable Site

Here is a web site that may interest some members of the UT community.  FedupUSA
deals with "Financial Government Corporate Corruption & Cronysism."   Enjoy.  See:
http://www.fedupusa.org/2012/12/more-cliffs-than-fiscal/


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ideal Christmas Present for BOT and UT Administration Members

 

It just might help.  As seen on TV!  Earwax remover! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Posted on my Facebook page was this quotation from Albert Einstein: “I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots.” I thought immediately of the UT administration and its emphasis on going to so much instruction online. Here some illustrations--look familiar? I'm sure you could find more elsewhere: http://nj1015.com/these-photos-are-proof-albert-einstein-was-correct-about-technology/

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Strategic Strategy of Strategic Planning


Strategic plan season is here once again.  It seems like there is a whole lot of strategic planning and not much execution of strategic ideas. But planning is such fun. Get ready for more circles and arrows and Venn Diagrams. Lots of meetings and donuts, too! Bloggie especially likes Venn Diagrams served with maple syrup. Whipped cream is good too. Tiny Tim says, "Sprinkle some strategery on mine."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Least Inappropriate Post for the Occasion

                                                                Relevant Education?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Article of Interest

This link will take you to an article by former professor Mark Tarver, called "Why I am not a Professor": http://www.lambdassociates.org/blog/decline.htm

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In a Family Way

Schematic of Possible Educational Relationships Between Harvard, Yale and University of Toledo 


“It is my belief that higher education across the country at the national level is inbred."

UT President Lloyd Jacobs 

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/08/22/university-toledo-appoint-former-finance-chief-provost#ixzz24ISs0oPx
Inside Higher Ed 



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Announcing the Same Old Same Old


New Provost: Long Live the Provost!

The Reign of Truth and Beauty continues.  Who would have predicted this other than a few hundred people?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Search?

Okay, so the search continues for the Provost.  Or, does it? I skipped the Scarborough presentation having seen him in action before the old Arts and Sciences Council. I did, however, go to the presentation of  the very nice gentleman from UMBC.He was very proud of the record they had for excellent undergraduate teaching.  This alone may disqualify him but let me continue.  The three outside candidates all had similar qualities.  They come from a science/engineering/medical background and have spent most of their time trying to recruit and retain very bright students.  While that may be a problem for us, the much larger issue is retaining and graduating marginal students.  The state is going to start reimbursing universities for those who are retained and eventually graduate.  So what do we do with a 16 ACT who doesn't come to class, makes little effort when there, and then leaves without graduating and for whom we get no state aid?  The state has also said we may no longer teach remedial classes.  Can we insist that student do a year at a community college?  Can we insist they take a semester of college boot camp that will not count toward graduation?  Not one of the candidates addressed this issue or what they are going to do to increase the graduation rates.  My fear is the faculty will take the hit in some way.  I do not have a magic wand but I do know this problem will not go away.  It will not be solved by technology.  It will not be solved by hiring more administrators.  It is the elephant in the room and needs to be discussed openly and forthrightly.  One of the candidates noted Akron was no longer going to accept anyone with lower than a 16 ACT.  If our university decides it is no longer going to be open enrollment  then what does that really mean?  Are we Toledo Tech?  We need to partaicipate in this discussion.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alternate Universes Part 2

UTMC according to UT-AAUP and Consumer Reports:






UTMC according to UTMC and UT administrators:


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Second Candidate

I have just returned from the presentation/discussion with the second provost candidate.  As with the first, I have gone in cold.  I did not read the resume or talk to anyone who had spoken with her.  I wanted a true first impression.  On the plus side there was no formal power point presentation.  She just spoke.  While this appeals to my aestetic public speaking side, it did not give us the same amount of information the first candidate did.  While this is probably unfair, the first candidate seemed to have done a lot of thinking about universities and where he thinks they are going.  I admit to being biased in that I am not really all that happy with his conclusions.  He still seemed to imply that I was in a service discipline.  Candidate two has probably done the thinking, but it was not as apparant in the presentation.  She did seem more interested in the liberal arts as real disciplines.  She also seemed to have a lot of first hand experience in trying to make the university "relevant" to its community and the outside world.  The question to which I believe I already have an answer, is whether this administration has any real interest in spending real money on non STEMM disciplines.  The answer, from the previous four years is NO.  I just don't believe candidate two will have any more luck changing the spending habits of this administration than did a previous provost.  Candidate one will probably not be interested in changing where the money flows.  As a result we in those "other" disciplines can probably expect little change with him as provost.  At least that's the way I see it at 4 p.m. on a warm Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Slow Summer?

I attended the provost candidate's presentation Tuesday at 10:30. I believe the spelling of his name is Montamagna but I'm sure someone in the administration will correct me if I'm wrong.  What I'm going to relate are truly first impressions.  I have been out of town and Tuesday has been my only contact with the man.  I have not even read the resume.  My first impression is that he seems to have actually thought about issues not merely memorized the correct verbage and talking points.  Second he has actually tried some things at his present post.  Third he seems to have actually been a faculty member and not just a career admistrator.  On the downside he used terms like economic engine and referred to the wonderful job the Jacobs' Administration has done here at UT.  Of course, to expect someone to criticize the person who is responsible for hiring the new provost is a little over the top on my part.  One item did bother me.  He was asked what role he sees for the Humanities in the new university.  His response was the humanities should help to create an environment (Toledo and surrounding areas) so that the really important folks (doctors, engineers etc.) who are creating real jobs will want to remain here.  It was one of those yea you're in the plan but only from a superficial and roundabout perspective answers.  Again, I liked that he has spent a great deal of time thinking about how you keep students enrolled, but he was working with engineers.  I do not know, and neither does anyone else, how this translates into an open enrollment university.  I have noted on this blog that to enroll a student who has no real contact with a university through the experience of friends or family and then expect that marginal student to succeed is just wrong on our part.  It is a problem that will be confounded when we are not allowed to teach remedial classes.  It becomes a throw them in the deep end and see who can swim and who can't issue.  With the state looking at retention rates for funding models the challenges become quite large for the next provost and for the faculty.  It is probably the kiss of death for his application, but I actually liked the guy.

Truth & Beauty Reign Gear



This new student has arrived on campus with a wardrobe suitable to the university climate.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Alternate Bizarro Universe?


Thursday, July 12, 2012myUT | Send an Announcement
Town Hall Announcement
Leadership of The University of Toledo Medical Center
invites you to joinin an interactive town hall meeting tomorrow at noon on the 
Health Science Campus, Health Education Building Room 100. The
campus community is invited to hear details on UTMC success stories in customer service 
and the delivery of university-quality care, ask questions and share their experiences
that have earned accolades from U.S. News and World Report. 

Submit your questions to townhallquestions@utoledo.edu or via 
Twitter and Facebook --watch online at video.utoledo.edu.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blog for Sale

This blog is for sale.  This is your chance to acquire a proven pathway into the hearts and minds of University of Toledo students, staff, faculty and administrators.  More than 160 thousand visitors to this site can't be wrong.

To make an offer contact Bloggie's agent:

J. Henry Lievens, Esquire
Attorney at Law
734 279 2811 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From the Blade

In a Letter to the Editor in this past Sunday's Toledo Blade (http://www.toledoblade.com/Letters-to-the-Editor/2012/05/13/Liberal-arts-education-a-life-changer.html) the writer commented on how several area colleges and universities are striving to promote the liberal arts. But the writer included--by name--UT! Wouldn't many of us agree that at UT any striving to promote the liberal arts is primarily (almost exclusively?) on the part of faculty and staff, and of only a very few administrators?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

THE AD

So, how many of you have seen the ad for the new Provost?  The ad appeared in the Wall Street Journal on April 18th.  It was on page B9.  It is filled with the usual academic jargon.  Words like "transformative leader," and "strategic thinker" are in the ad.  The new Provost is to be able to "...envision the future of higher education with its multiplicity of tensions and trends and to chart a course for the University of Toledo to pursue."  It would also be nice if he/she could walk on water.  The ad also notes that "...prior government, business, or other private sector experience is preferred."  Wow, we'll get a Wall Street Banker because they did so much to help the country avoid the housing bubble and get us all back on our feet.  I can hardly wait:  three martini lunches, limos, bonuses.  Non of that is for the faculty however.  We have been slurping at the public trough for eons.  The anticipation has me on the edge of my seat.  Just one last thought today.  I have read several articles recently and an editorial in The Blade that have all decried the state of rising tuition.  None of these has noticed the incredible expansion of administrative layers in both public and private institutions.  Too bad.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

While I was away

Good golly Miss Molly: Having spent the last four days at the Broadcast Education Association in Las Vegas I was unable to respond to Jon Strunk's reasoned response to my cheap shot at the Collegian. I sincerely hope things work out so that the student newspaper remains truly independent. Just a couple of quick items: first it might have been nice if the journalism faculty of our department, some of whom have been involved with the Collegian, were brought into the loop especially as regards the selection of the new advisor; second, for those of us who were here during the Kapoor era and remember the events surrounding the leaving of the Collegian, the move back raises some concerns. Time will of course tell whether I should be worried. Until then I wish nothing but the best for the students involved.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Free Speech?

I have a couple seemingly unrelated pieces of information that I thought folks might like to know about. First, the Independent Collegian is moving back on campus with an advisor. He will apparently report to Tobin Klinger. It will now change its name to the Dependent Collegian. My how short some memories are.

Second the Board of Trustees, that group of happy campers, has amended its by-laws so that Board Members are not allowed to disagree in public with announced Board Policy. As I always say let by-laws be by-laws.

Monday, April 9, 2012

W-2,W-2,W-2

Wow do I feel priviledged. I have enough W-2s to paper my office. Just as a side note, while doing my taxes Turbo Tax said my employer was overwitholding my medicare tax. Since it was seven bucks I let it slide but will investigate the whole thing at another time. Speaking of other times and places, I assume everyone realizes that negotiations are supposedly taking place. I have gone to my crystal ball and can say the following: no raises, increased health care costs, increased workload and more money for the medical college and the vice presidents. See how easy that was? And, there will be no tenure track positions for departments that cannot guarentee that their graduates will be the next Bill Gates and return to the University lots of money. Now you can wander off to your summer destinations knowing what to expect when you return in the fall.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

L7




HLC Advance Team

Administrators Accrediting Administrators. Shown Here
Preparing to Interview Faculty.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Riding on the Big Bus of Inconsistency

Compare these two stories and wonder.

Story #1.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Officials at an Ohio university have ordered radios on campus shuttle buses be locked into one station and volume restricted after a student complained a driver was a playing a “far-right Christian political” channel at high volume.

The Blade newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/wD6N2J) the policy was suggested by the University of Toledo’s manager of transit services and gives drivers only an on/off option. In a memo, the manager, Steven John Wise, describes the selected station as “nonoffensive, work place type music, helpful weather info.” Radio volume also is being restricted as a safety measure.

The student made the complaint to university president Lloyd Jacobs on Jan. 26 and said the bus had become “a mobile proselytizing unit.” The student said those attending a state university expect to be free from forced religious and political views.

“The content of these broadcasts is blatantly offensive, derogatory, and abusive to anyone not in line with the very extreme views of those speaking,” the complaint says. “Issues such as women’s rights, sexual rights, and reproductive rights all come under constant attack. I can only imagine how someone affected deeply by any of these issues might feel being a captive audience to such abuse.”

Jacobs had responded in an email, “It sounds like you are correct — it may be inappropriate,” and instructed the vice president of administration to address the matter.

University correspondences show drivers were instructed on issues of safety and music selection, and radios were disconnected until the resolution was found.

The university said it had received no complaints about the new policy as of Friday.


And now Story #2:

Administrative Hypocrisy

by LindaMarie Rouillard, UT-AAUP Executive Board

Some University of Toledo administrators have been developing their leadership skills by participating in a "Global Leadership Summit," a program offered by the Willow Creek Association. This association is a ministry based in Barrington, Illinois; it broadcasts an annual leadership seminar around the world to a network of churches. The stated goal of the Willow Creek Association is to serve churches who hold to a historic, orthodox understanding of biblical Christianity. This self-avowed interdenominational network of churches also denounces same-sex relationships.

The Global Leadership Summit is organized around the conviction that "that the maximum influence and impact of the Church is felt when all of its Christ-centered leaders are at the forefront of establishing and growing well led local churches, companies, schools, governments and social enterprises,"(http://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership/about.asp). This year, one of the featured speakers at the Summit was the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz. Mr. Schultz eventually refused to participate in the 2011 Global Leadership Summit because of Willow Creek's condemnatory statements about sexual orientation.

In 2010, the Jacobs' Administration, through Chuck Lehnert, then Vice President of Facilities and Construction, paid for eight employees, including several UT administrators to attend the Global Leadership Summit. This group included administrators from facilities management, a hall operations manager, a housekeeping manager, and two individuals in environmental services and grounds maintenance.

In 2011, the Jacobs' Administration and Chuck Lehnert sent another contingent of eight administrators to the Global Leadership Summit on Thursday and Friday, August 11 and 12. In the group were administrators from Human Resources, including Connie Rubin, Senior Human Resources Officer, a clinical compliance advisor, a chief safety officer, a senior business manager in Facilities Management, and a supervisor from building services.

Acknowledgement of these registrations included the following statement by Willow Creek: "We excitedly await your coming to this event and pray that God will reveal amazing things that will serve you and your ministry."

Religion does have a place in a public institution of higher learning. UT offers religious studies programs. In October 2011, Dr. Jacobs announced the formation of a Center for Religious Understanding on our campus. This is commendable. Serious study of and dialogue among world religions are important steps in developing diversity and understanding. This is very different from a public institution spending taxpayer money for employees to participate in an orthodox Christian sponsored seminar during work hours.

There is an additional complication: while the Jacobs' Administration has paid for UT employees (including administrators from Human Resources) to participate in an event sponsored by Willow Creek Association, with its history of actively denouncing gays and refusing to acknowledge the validity of gay relationships, President Jacobs in 2008 fired Crystal Dixon, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at UT, for publicly stating her adherence to her fundamentalist religious beliefs. A recent court opinion has declared that her termination was not a violation of her right to free speech; rather the judge declared that "the damage she did to her ability to perform her job and to the University provide ample justification for her termination" (Toledo Blade, Feb. 7, 2012). In his statement to the Blade regarding the judge's decision, Dr. Jacobs said: "The University of Toledo is committed to providing a safe, welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors, regardless of race, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability."

This poses an interesting conundrum: if Crystal Dixon's religious beliefs affected her ability to do her job, how will participation in a fundamentalist church-sponsored "Global Leadership Summit" affect the ability of UT employees, in particular those in Human Resources, to perform their jobs? How can an organization such as Willow Creek with its general fundamentalist views help shape leadership at UT as our institution strives to advance diversity? How can Willow Creek with its views on sexual orientation help UT create an environment that celebrates diversity? What kind of leadership can we expect from Chuck Lehnert, Vice President of Administration, and Connie Rubin, Senior Human Resources Officer?

Friday, February 17, 2012

...and don't forget to shine your shoes.


Managers & Directors:

The University of Toledo is hosting a site evaluation team representing the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools on February 27 - 29, 2012. This comprehensive evaluation visit is a critical next step in the university being granted continued accreditation. An HLC site team visits a campus to validate the information included in the University’s self-study report and to collect additional information to include in its final report and recommendations.

To insure that all systems are highly available during this time, there will be an IT system change freeze for academic and administrative systems beginning February 26 thru midnight of February 29. The President’s office has been given Mike Firsdon and Bob Hogle’s names as the 24x7 immediate response coordinators during this crucial period in the event any IT issues impact the assessment team. They will be calling on any IT person deemed necessary to address any issue encountered. If any Director or Manager has a planned vacation or will not be available during this period, please submit your request to me for approval consideration. Please make yourself available when contacted.

Thank you,

Godfrey Ovwigho, PhD

Vice President, Information Technology/CIO

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three year graduation

There seems to be a lot of discussion wandering its way across campus about being able to graduate in three years. Word has it that this is a state requirement. I have seen one possible schedule for such a student. It would require a full summer and at least one semester where sthe student takes 30 hours. Before everyone jumps up and down the thirty are split between two 8 week sessions. I think at one time we called those quarters. There are all sorts of issues that present themselves including having both lots of 8 and 15 week classes and the pressure on both students and faculty. I am not going to really argue for or against such a plan, but I do believe there are lots of consequences for the student and that it will take a special student to make it work. My argument is rather, why go through this? If you allow students to take 18 hours a semester for no extra charge then after six semesters that have accumulated 108 hours. With one summer, they have achieved the necessary hours and should be able to graduate.That would really be true if the number of hours required to graduate is lowered to 120. Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Posters

Just a couple of quick notes. First, read the article below. However, when you do make certain you are not close enough to strike the family cat. It will anger you as it did me. It will verify what most of us who have been in higher education for a while have known but not had the facts to state. Administrations and staffs at universities have grown at an enormous rate. Please read it.

Second, you may have noticed the posters around campus explaining to students that the Higher Learning Commission is coming to town. Since the HLC may stop and talk to students, the University wishes them to be informed. There is a web site students can go to in order to read all of the fun reports. I have a much simpler road for students to take:

1. If asked questions, be friendly
2. If asked questions, be honest
3. If all this fails, throw your arms in the air and run away yelling, "its all Tucker's fault."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Big Appetites

Features, Washington Monthly Magazine
September/October 2011
Administrators Ate My Tuition
Want to get college costs in line? Start by cutting the overgrown management ranks.
By Benjamin Ginsberg

No statistic about higher education commands more attention—and anxiety—among members of the public than the rising price of admission. Since 1980, inflation- adjusted tuition at public universities has tripled; at private universities it has more than doubled. Compared to all other goods and services in the American economy, including medical care, only “cigarettes and other tobacco products” have seen prices rise faster than the cost of going to college. And for all that, parents who sign away ever-larger tuition checks can be forgiven for doubting whether universities are spending those additional funds in ways that make their kids’ educations better—to say nothing of three times better.
Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every twenty-one students.
Apparently, as colleges and universities have had more money to spend, they have not chosen to spend it on expanding their instructional resources—that is, on paying faculty. They have chosen, instead, to enhance their administrative and staff resources. A comprehensive study published by the Delta Cost Project in 2010 reported that between 1998 and 2008, America’s private colleges increased spending on instruction by 22 percent while increasing spending on administration and staff support by 36 percent. Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers— but not more professors. Well, you can’t have everything.
Of course, universities have always employed administrators. When I was a graduate student in the 1960s and a young professor in the 1970s, however, top administrators were generally drawn from the faculty, and even midlevel managerial tasks were directed by faculty members. These moonlighting academics typically occupied administrative slots on a part-time or temporary basis and planned in due course to return to full-time teaching and research. Whatever their individual faults and gifts, faculty administrators seldom had to be reminded that the purpose of a university was the promotion of education and research, and their own short-term managerial endeavors tended not to distract them from their long-term academic commitments.
Alas, today’s full-time professional administrators tend to view management as an end in and of itself. Most have no faculty experience, and even those who have spent time in a classroom or laboratory often hope to make administration their life’s work and have no plan to return to teaching. For many of these career managers, promoting teaching and research is less important than expanding their own administrative domains. Under their supervision, the means have become the end.
Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forcing them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school. If there is any hope of getting higher education costs in line, and improving its quality—and I think there is, though the hour is late—it begins with taking a pair of shears to the overgrown administrative bureaucracy.
F
orty years ago, America’s colleges employed more professors than administrators. The efforts of 446,830 professors were supported by 268,952 administrators and staffers. Over the past four decades, though, the number of full-time professors or “full-time equivalents”—that is, slots filled by two or more part-time faculty members whose combined hours equal those of a full-timer—increased slightly more than 50 percent. That percentage is comparable to the growth in student enrollments during the same time period. But the number of administrators and administrative staffers employed by those schools increased by an astonishing 85 percent and 240 percent, respectively.
Today, administrators and staffers safely outnumber full-time faculty members on campus. In 2005, colleges and universities employed more than 675,000 fulltime faculty members or full-time equivalents. In the same year, America’s colleges and universities employed more than 190,000 individuals classified by the federal government as “executive, administrative and managerial employees.” Another 566,405 college and university employees were classified as “other professional.” This category includes IT specialists, counselors, auditors, accountants, admissions officers, development officers, alumni relations officials, human resources staffers, editors and writers for school publications, attorneys, and a slew of others. These “other professionals” are not administrators, but they work for the administration and serve as its arms, legs, eyes, ears, and mouthpieces.
Before they employed an army of professional staffers, administrators were forced to rely on the cooperation of the faculty to carry out tasks ranging from admissions to planning. An administration that lost the confidence of the faculty might find itself unable to function. Today, ranks of staffers form a bulwark of administrative power in the contemporary university. These administrative staffers do not work for or, in many cases, even share information with the faculty. They help make the administration, in the language of political science, “relatively autonomous,” marginalizing the faculty.
While some administrative posts continue to be held by senior professors on a part-time basis, their ranks are gradually dwindling as their jobs are taken over by fulltime managers. College administrations frequently tout the fiscal advantages of using part-time, “adjunct” faculty to teach courses. They fail, however, to apply the same logic to their own ranks. Over the past thirty years, the percentage of faculty members who are hired on a part-time basis has increased so dramatically that today almost half of the nation’s professors work only part-time. And yet the percentage of administrators who are part-time employees has fallen during the same time period.
Administrators are not only well staffed, they are also well paid. Vice presidents at the University of Maryland, for example, earn well over $200,000, and deans earn nearly as much. Both groups saw their salaries increase as much as 50 percent between 1998 and 2003, a period of financial retrenchment and sharp tuition increases at the university. The University of Maryland at College Park—which employs six vice presidents, six associate vice presidents, five assistant vice presidents, six assistants to the president, and six assistants to the vice presidents—has long been noted for its bloated and extortionate bureaucracy, but it actually does not seem to be much of an exception. Administrative salaries are on the rise everywhere in the nation. By 2007, the median salary paid to the president of a doctoral degree-granting institution was $325,000. Eighty-one presidents earned more than $500,000, and twelve earned over $1 million. Presidents, at least, might perform important services for their schools. Somewhat more difficult to explain is the fact that by 2010 even some of the ubiquitous and largely interchangeable deanlets and deanlings earned six-figure salaries.
If you have any remaining doubt about where colleges and universities have been spending their increasing tuition and other revenues, consider this: between 1947 and 1995 (the last year for which the relevant data was published), administrative costs increased from barely 9 percent to nearly 15 percent of college and university budgets. More recent data, though not strictly comparable, follows a similar pattern. During this same time period, stated in constant dollars, overall university spending increased 148 percent. Instructional spending increased only 128 percent, 20 points less than the overall rate of spending increase. Administrative spending, though, increased by a whopping 235 percent.
T
hree main explanations are often adduced for the sharp growth in the number of university administrators over the past thirty years. One is that there have been new sorts of demands for administrative services that require more managers per student or faculty member than was true in the past. Universities today have an elaborate IT infrastructure, enhanced student services, a more extensive fund-raising and lobbying apparatus, and so on, than was common thirty years ago. Of course, it might also be said that during this same time period, whole new fields of teaching and research opened in such areas as computer science, genetics, chemical biology, and physics. Other new research and teaching fields opened because of ongoing changes in the world economy and international order. And yet, faculty growth between 1975 and 2005 simply kept pace with growth in enrollments and substantially lagged behind administrative and staff growth. When push came to shove, colleges chose to invest in management rather than in teaching and research.
A second common explanation given for the expansion of administration in recent years is the growing need to respond to mandates and record-keeping demands from federal and state governments as well as numerous licensure and accreditation bodies. It is certainly true that large numbers of administrators spend a good deal of time preparing reports and collecting data for these and other agencies. But as burdensome as this paperwork blizzard might be, it is not clear that it explains the growth in administrative personnel that we have observed. Often, affirmative action reporting is cited as the most time consuming of the various governmental mandates. As the economist Barbara Bergmann has pointed out, however, across the nation only a handful of administrators and staffers are employed in this endeavor.
More generally, we would expect that if administrative growth were mainly a response to external mandates, growth should be greater at state schools, which are more exposed to government obligations, than at private institutions, which are freer to manage their own affairs in their own way. Yet, when we examine the data, precisely the opposite seems to be the case. Between 1975 and 2005, the number of administrators and managers employed by public institutions increased by 66 percent. During the same time period, the number of administrators employed by private colleges and universities grew by 135 percent (see Table 4). These numbers seem inconsistent with the idea that external mandates have been the forces driving administrative growth at America’s institutions of higher education.
A third explanation has to do with the conduct of the faculty. Many faculty members, it is often said, regard administrative activities as obnoxious chores and are content to allow these to be undertaken by others. While there is some truth to this, it is certainly not the whole story. Often enough, I have observed that professors who are willing to perform administrative tasks lose interest when they find that the committees, councils, and assemblies through which the faculty nominally acts have lost much if not all their power to administrators.
If growth-driven demand, governmental mandates, and faculty preferences are not sufficient explanations for administrative expansion, an alternative explanation might be found in the nature of university bureaucracies themselves. In particular, administrative growth may be seen primarily as a result of efforts by administrators to aggrandize their own roles in academic life. Students of bureaucracy have frequently observed that administrators have a strong incentive to maximize the power and prestige of whatever office they hold by working to increase its staff and budget. To justify such increases, they often seek to capture functions currently performed by others or invent new functions for themselves that might or might not further the organization’s main mission.
Such behavior is common on today’s campuses. At one school, an inventive group of administrators created the “Committee on Traditions,” whose mission seemed to be the identification and restoration of forgotten university traditions or, failing that, the creation of new traditions. Another group of deans constituted themselves as the “War Zones Task Force.” This group recruited staffers, held many meetings, and prepared a number of reports whose upshot seemed to be that students should be discouraged from traveling to war zones, unless, of course, their home was in a war zone. But perhaps the expansion of university bureaucracies is best illustrated by an ad placed by a Colorado school, which sought a “Coordinator of College Liaisons.” Depending on how you read it, this is either a ridiculous example of bureaucratic layering or an intrusion into an area of student life that hardly requires administrative assistance.
The number of administrators and staffers on university campuses has increased so rapidly in recent years that often there is not enough work to keep all of them busy. To fill their time, administrators engage in a number of make-work activities. This includes endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings. For example, at a recent “president’s staff meeting” at an Ohio community college, eleven of the eighteen agenda items discussed by administrators involved plans for future meetings or discussions of other recently held meetings. At a gathering of the “Process Management Steering Committee” of a Midwestern community college, virtually the entire meeting was devoted to planning subsequent meetings by process management teams, including the “search committee training team,” the “faculty advising and mentoring team,” and the “culture team,” which was said to be meeting with “renewed energy.” The culture team was apparently also close to making a recommendation on the composition of a “Culture Committee.” Since culture is a notoriously abstruse issue, this committee may need to meet for years, if not decades, to unravel its complexities.
When they face particularly challenging problems, academic administrators sometimes find that ordinary meetings in campus offices do not allow them the freedom from distraction they require. To allow them to focus fully and without interruption, administrators sometimes find it necessary to schedule off-campus administrative retreats where they can work without fear that the day-to-day concerns of the campus will disturb their deliberations. Sometimes these retreats include athletic and role-playing activities that are supposed to help improve the staff’s spirit of camaraderie and ability to function as a team. For example, at a 2007 professional development retreat, Michigan Tech staffers broke into teams and spent several hours building furniture from pieces of cardboard and duct tape. Many staff retreats also include presentations by professional speakers who appear to specialize in psychobabble. Topics at recent retreats included “Do You Want to Succeed?” “Reflective Resensitizing,” and “Waking Up the Inner World.” In all likelihood, the administrators and staffers privileged to attend these important talks spent the next several weeks reporting on them at meetings with colleagues who had been deprived of the opportunity to learn firsthand how to make certain that their inner worlds remained on alert.
Administrative budgets frequently include travel funds, on the theory that conference participation will hone administrators’ skills and provide them with new information and ideas that will ultimately serve their school’s interests. We can be absolutely certain that this would be the only reason administrators would even consider dragging themselves to Maui during the winter for a series of workshops sponsored by the North American Association of Summer Sessions. Given the expense and hardship usually occasioned by travel to Hawaii, it is entirely appropriate for colleges to foot this sort of bill.
Another ubiquitous make-work exercise is the formation of a “strategic plan.” Until recent years, colleges engaged in little formal planning. Today, however, virtually every college and university in the nation has an elaborate strategic plan. This is typically a lengthy document— some are 100 pages long or more—that purports to articulate the school’s mission, its leadership’s vision of the future, and the various steps that are needed to achieve the school’s goals. The typical plan takes six months to two years to write and requires countless hours of work from senior administrators and their staffs.
A plan that was really designed to guide an organization’s efforts to achieve future objectives, as it might be promulgated by a corporation or a military agency, would typically present concrete objectives, a timetable for their realization, an outline of the tactics that will be employed, a precise assignment of staff responsibilities, and a budget. Some university plans approach this model. Most, however, are simply expanded “vision statements” that are often forgotten soon after they are promulgated. My university has presented two systemwide strategic plans and one arts and sciences strategic plan in the last fifteen years. No one can remember much about any of these plans, but another one is currently in the works. The plan is not a blueprint for the future. It is, instead, a management tool for the present. The ubiquity of planning at America’s colleges and universities is another reflection and reinforcement of the ongoing growth of administrative power.
There is, to be sure, one realm in which administrators as a class have proven extraordinarily adept. This is the general domain of fund-raising. Even during the depths of the recession in 2009, schools were able to raise money. On the one hand, the donors who give selflessly to their schools deserve to be commended for their beneficence. At the same time, it should still be noted that, as is so often the case in the not-for-profit world, university administrators appropriate much of this money to support—what else?—more administration.
The stress on fund-raising has enabled more than a few university presidents to acquire luxurious offices, lavish residences, and an assortment of perks in addition to princely salaries. Some enjoy the services of a chauffeur when they commute to work and a household staff when they entertain or even relax at home. These and many other perquisites are usually defended by administrators as needed to carry out their social duties and, particularly, to impress their schools’ wealthy benefactors. Yet no study has ever proved that presidents who arrive at fundraising events in chauffeur-driven limousines are more likely to succeed in their capital campaign goals or in any other endeavor than their counterparts who drive their own cars or come by taxi or, for that matter, by subway. I have personally known university presidents who were outstanding fund-raisers but, nevertheless, lived frugally and always traveled as cheaply as possible. Among college officials, though, the spendthrifts seem to outnumber the penny pinchers.
College presidents are usually the guiltiest parties, since they are in the best position to authorize expenditures, and many are more than happy to use school funds to burnish their own images. One recent case in point is that of Benjamin Ladner, the former president of American University in Washington, D.C. Soon after arriving on the campus in 1994, Ladner and his wife, who dubbed herself AU’s “first lady,” declared that the president’s official residence was inadequate and had the university build an expensive new house, which included a waterfall and pond behind the patio, a few blocks from the campus. They outfitted the house with expensive furnishings, china, and stemware. At university expense, the Ladners employed a chauffeur, a cook, a social secretary, and numerous other personal staff members. They hosted gala events to which they invited prominent Washington figures. They traveled abroad frequently, generally charging their first-class tickets to the university.
Matters came to a head in March 2005, when an anonymous whistleblower wrote to the board of trustees accusing the Ladners of “severe expense account violations.” An extensive audit subsequently revealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable spending, some personal but most associated with President Ladner’s frenetic image-polishing efforts. Over the previous several years, the Ladners had charged the university for $6,000 in club dues, $54,000 in drivers’ costs, $220,000 in chefs’ services, $44,000 for alcohol, and $100,000 in services from their social secretary.
After months of bruising battles within the AU board, Ladner’s contract was terminated—though he and the first lady received a generous severance package. While Ladner mingled with the rich and famous at the school’s expense, faculty members had to settle for miserly annual salary increases and students saw their tuitions rise markedly every year.
T
he expansion of college and university administration has not been coupled with the development of adequate mechanisms of oversight and supervision, particularly for senior managers. University boards, which technically oversee the administrations, are generally not well prepared for the task. One recent study found that 40 percent of university trustees said they were not prepared for the job and 42 percent indicated that they spent less than five hours a month on board business. Many trustees serve because of loyalty to their school and say they have “faith” in its administration. They do not go out of their way to look for problems, and administrators are generally able to satisfy trustees with the rosy pictures of college life presented at weekend board meetings.
Moreover, university boards do not have the same legal responsibilities borne by corporate boards. Most federal regulations establishing management standards for private-sector firms, such as the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, do not apply to nonprofit entities, and state regulation of university administration is spotty. At the same time, while schools have developed many internal rules and standards applying to the conduct of faculty members and students, few if any have established standards governing administrative conduct or established oversight mechanisms. For the most part, senior administrators police themselves.
The result of this lack of supervision is that a number of college and university administrators have, in recent years, succumbed to the temptation to engage in corrupt practices. In 2008, for example, the director of Tufts University’s Office of Student Activities, Josephine Nealley, was indicted on three counts of larceny for embezzling more than $300,000 in student activities funds. She allegedly transferred the money to her personal bank accounts and used it for purchases and trips. While acting on an anonymous tip regarding Nealley’s activities, university auditors uncovered a second, apparently unrelated case of embezzlement. Raymond Rodriguez, a budget officer, allegedly stole more than $600,000 from the university, which he spent on trips and luxury goods. Rodriguez was indicted on two counts of larceny for his alleged thefts. Both Nealley and Rodriguez entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to prison terms.
In a similar vein, the president of the University of Tennessee was forced to resign when an audit revealed that he had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in university funds on personal trips, entertainment, and purchases. The president’s travel at university expense allegedly included trips to Birmingham, Alabama, where he was said to have a “personal involvement” with the president of another school.
Often, frauds go unnoticed for years because the perpetrators are the accountants and financial officers responsible for fiscal oversight. When fraudulent conduct is discovered, university officials often prefer to allow the perpetrators to resign or retire quietly rather than risk a public brouhaha that might upset donors and lead to questions about the quality of the school’s leadership. Many professors can point to cases at their own school when crooked administrators were allowed to leave quietly, sometimes even without being compelled to make restitution for their offenses.
When fraud is exposed and restitution demanded, the sums can be considerable. In January 2008, Roy Johnson, chancellor of Alabama’s community college system, pled guilty to bribery and was required to forfeit the $18 million he admitted receiving in direct and indirect benefits from companies doing business with the colleges he oversaw. As the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case observed, “Taxpayers must wonder how many more Alabama students could have been educated had money not been wasted on fraud.”
T
he priorities of the hyper-administrative university emerge most clearly during times of economic crisis, when managers are forced to make choices among spending options. Thanks to the sharp economic downturn that followed America’s 2008 financial crisis, almost every institution, even Harvard, America’s wealthiest school, has been compelled to make substantial cuts in its expenditures. What cuts did university administrations choose to make during these hard times?
A tiny number of schools took the opportunity to confront years of administrative and staff bloat and moved to cut costs by shedding unneeded administrators and their brigades of staffers. The most notable example is the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, which in February 2009 addressed a $100 million budget deficit by eliminating fifteen “leadership positions,” along with 450 staff jobs, among other cuts. The dean also emphasized that faculty would not be affected by the planned budget cuts. Chicago’s message was clear: administrators and staffers were less important than teaching, research, and—since this involved a medical school—patient care; if the budget had to be cut, it would be done by thinning the school’s administrative ranks, not by reducing its core efforts.
Unfortunately, few if any other colleges and universities copied the Chicago model. Facing budgetary problems, many schools eliminated academic programs and announced across-the-board salary and hiring freezes, which meant that vacant staff and faculty positions, including the positions of many adjunct professors, would remain unfilled until the severity of the crisis eased.
Perverse administrative priorities were even more in evidence at a number of schools that actually raised administrative salaries or opted to spend more money on administrative services while cutting expenditures on teaching and research in the face of budget deficits. For example, in January 2009, facing $19 million in budget cuts and a hiring freeze, Florida Atlantic University awarded raises of 10 percent or more to top administrators, including the school’s president. In a similar vein, in February 2009, the president of the University of Vermont defended the bonuses paid to the school’s twenty-one top administrators against the backdrop of layoffs, job freezes, and program cuts at the university. The university president, Daniel Fogel, asserted that administrative bonuses were based on the principles of “extra pay for extra duties” and “pay for performance.” The president rejected a faculty member’s assertion that paying bonuses to administrators when the school faced an enormous budget deficit seemed similar to the sort of greed recently manifested by the corporate executives who paid themselves bonuses with government bailout money. Fogel said he shared the outrage of those upset at corporate greed, but maintained there was a “world of difference” between the UVM administrative bonuses and bonuses paid to corporate executives. He did not specify what that world might be.
In the meantime the president of Washington State University, Elson Floyd, accepted a $125,000 pay raise, bringing his 2009 salary to $725,000 per year, soon after announcing that financial circumstances required the school to freeze hiring. At another university that had just announced a large budget deficit and mandated salary and hiring freezes, the outgoing president was feted by the board of trustees at a gala 350-person dinner, to which trustees, senior administrators, alumni, donors, and other notables—but no students or faculty—were invited. The dinner, which might as well have been held on the promenade deck of the Titanic, featured musical performances, videos, and a lounge area with hundreds of Chinese newspapers and a tea set to recognize the president’s many trips to China. (No wonder university spending was frozen.) Later, this same university placed restrictions on the use of copy paper by graduate students. Maybe the Chinese newspapers should have been recycled.
O
n any given campus, the only institution with the actual power to halt the onward march of the all-administrative university is the board of trustees or regents— which, as we’ve seen, tend to be unprepared or disinclined to make waves. But they need to do so if their institutions are to be saved from sinking into the expanding swamp of administrative mediocrity.
To begin with, trustees interested in trimming administrative fat should compare their own school’s ratio of managers and staffers per hundred students to the national mean, which is currently an already inflated nine for private schools and eight for public colleges. If the national mean is nine administrators per hundred students at private colleges, why does Vanderbilt need sixty-four? Why does Rochester need forty and Johns Hopkins thirty-one? Management-minded administrators claim to believe in benchmarking, so they should not object to being benchmarked in this way.
The right kind of media coverage would embolden boards to ask the right questions. In particular, the various publications that rate and rank colleges—U.S. News is the most influential—should take account of administrative bloat in their ratings. After all, a high administrator-to-student ratio means that the school is diverting funds from academic programs to support an overgrown bureaucracy. I am certain that if Vanderbilt or Duke or Hopkins or Rochester or Emory or any of the other most administratively top-heavy schools lost a few notches in the U.S. News rankings because of their particularly egregious administrative bloat, their boards would be forced to act.
But given the general fattening of administrative ranks in recent years, even schools with average administrator-to-student ratios could stand to see major cuts in their administrative staffs and budgets. This could help not only to fill budget holes but, more importantly, to begin a healthy shift in the balance of bureaucratic power within universities. A 10 percent cut in the staff and management ranks would save millions of dollars but would have no effect whatsoever on the operations of most campuses. The deanlets would never be missed; their absence from campus would go unnoticed. A 20 percent or larger cut would begin to be noticed and would have the beneficial effect of substantially reducing administrative power and the ongoing diversion of scarce funds into unproductive channels.
With fewer deanlets to command, senior administrators would be compelled to turn once again to the faculty for administrative support. Such a change would result in better programs and less unchecked power for presidents and provosts. Faculty who work part-time or for part of their careers as administrators tend to ask questions, use judgment, and interfere with arbitrary presidential and provostial decision making. Senior full-time administrators might resent the interference, but the university would benefit from the result. Moreover, with fewer administrators to pay and send to conferences and retreats, more resources might be available for educational programs and student support, the actual items for which parents, donors, and funding agencies think they are paying.
Benjamin Ginsberg is a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. This article is adapted with permission from The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters, by Benjamin Ginsberg, published by Oxford University Press, 2011.