05 February 2014

The Problem Isn't Bloat, It's Malnutrition

No, you weren't imagining it: administrative structures have expanded, and the rise in tuition has nothing to do with faculty salaries, which have stagnated.  Making matters worse, particularly for public higher ed: someone whose salary can be said to "stagnate" is doing better than growing numbers of the contingent professoriate who are increasingly replacing full-time tenure-stream faculty.
the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1. 
Full-time faculty members also lost ground to part-time instructors (who now compose half of the instructional staff at most types of colleges), particularly at public master’s and bachelor’s institutions.
The problem is not just that administration has grown, it's that academic departments have not grown alongside them.

There is no doubt room to trim bureaucracy, and particularly to reconsider spending tuition and tax-payer money on endeavors that have nothing to do with the core mission of the public university (fielding farm teams for the NFL and NBA and advancing corporate business agendas come to mind).  But admissions, student support services, AA/EOE initiatives, career counseling?  For a college education to take place, a lot of things have to happen outside of the classroom, and they cost money.

What this report makes clear is that families are spending money and students are going into debt to pay for the support structure for teaching and a lot of things that may be well outside that support structure, but not the teaching itself.  They need to know that.


  1. Puzzled by the headline; shouldn't the conclusion be that we're suffering from both bloat and malnutrition?

  2. Sure, but bloat is the symptom, and malnutrition is the underlying problem.