disappointment, with a twist

Today, the Goldwater Institute issued a report that found that much of the reason for the huge leaps in college tuition can be traced back to ‘administrative bloat’.  Between 1993 and 2007, the number of administrators at American universities grew by 39%, while the people who actually ‘do’ the work of the university — teach — only grew 18%.

More disturbing is that while institutional spending on teaching and teaching support grew by 39% (adjusted for inflation), the spending related to administrations rose a whopping 61%.  61%…are you kidding?

On the same day, one of my favorite bloggers, a man who tells it like it is, bought the tenured faculty line — he’s flopping on the beach.  In response to the New Faculty Majority proposal to move adjunct and contingent faculty to something resembling tenure over the next 20 years, he simply declares that their proposal is “so far removed from the reality of running a college that it’s genuinely difficult to take seriously.”

But before he says this, he goes into why it’s so ‘unreal.’  And what it boils down to is money.  In fact, he says that ‘administrative bloat’ is a canard.  Really?  So explain why, on the very same day, the Goldwater report makes it very clear that ‘adminstrative bloat’ is a very real thing.  (Although I must admit, their solution — to put the cost of attending university back on the students — isn’t one I’d agree with).  Look, I get faculty are expensive.  But when every UC campus has a chancellor earning over $200,000 a year, and a president who considers himself the caretaker of the cemetery where higher education goes to die who earns, with benefits, over three-quarters of a million, then really, can we say that faculty salaries are the problem?  I don’t think we can.  It’s that person hired to make sure that little Susie and Timmy aren’t *ahem* bored.  It used to be that a faculty advisor advised a student group as part of his or her job.  But with publish or perish for tenure, and more than 50% of your faculty being contingent or adjuncts, you have to hire someone to do that job…at a cost.

So what I say is that instead of saying it can’t be done because it costs too much, perhaps the time really has come to trim the administrative fat, roll back the assumptions of what faculty are ‘supposed’ to do to get tenure, and then, lo and behold, the issue of paying for adjuncts to become faculty with some sense of security becomes exactly what it already is … a non-issue.

Published in: on August 17, 2010 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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