Sunday, December 2, 2012

Faculty Senate to Consider Issues of Administrative Bloat at Penn State in Wake in of Similar Action at Other Universities

 U.S. universities employed more than 230,000 administrators in 2009, up 60 percent from 1993, or 10 times the rate of growth of the tenured faculty, those with permanent positions and job security, according to U.S. Education Department data.

Spending on administration has been rising faster than funds for instruction and research at 198 leading U.S. research universities, concluded a 2010 study by Jay Greene, an education professor at the University of Arkansas. (From John Hechinger, Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed Outcry Over College Costs, Bloomberg, Nov. 14, 2012.)
I have been looking at administrative boat and suggesting its ubiquity within large public universities.  My counterpart at Purdue, J. Paul Robinson, has made an eloquent case for the perversions of administrative bloat--advanced, of course, for all of the most innocuous reasons.  (e..g. Administrative Bloat by Deans and Other Unit Administrators--An Overlooked but Important Source of Direct Attack on Shared Governance and Administrative Bloat and Managing Faculty-Administrative Conflict; Address of J. Paul Robinson, Chair of the Purdue University Faculty Senate.


“Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?” asks J. Paul Robinson, a Purdue University professor of biomedical engineering and chairman of the school's faculty senate. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg 

This post provides more information on the work of tracking administrative bloat at our CIC sister university--Purdue University. John Hechinger, Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed Outcry Over College Costs, Bloomberg, Nov. 14, 2012. It also announces efforts by the Faculty Senate at Penn State to look at the issue as well.





John Hechinger, Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed Outcry Over College Costs, Bloomberg, Nov. 14, 2012.
J. Paul Robinson, chairman of Purdue University’s faculty senate, strode through the halls of a 10- story concrete-and-glass administrative tower.



“I have no idea what these people do,” said Robinson, waving his hand across a row of offices, his voice rising.

The 59-year-old professor of biomedical engineering is leading a faculty revolt against bureaucratic bloat at the public university in Indiana. In the past decade, the number of administrative employees jumped 54 percent, almost eight times the growth of tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000 chief diversity officer. It employs 16 deans and 11 vice presidents, among them a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief.

Administrative costs on college campuses are soaring, crowding out instruction at a time of skyrocketing tuition and $1 trillion in outstanding student loans. At Purdue and other U.S. college campuses, bureaucratic growth is pitting professors against administrators and sparking complaints that tight budgets could be spent more efficiently.

“We’re a public university,” Robinson said. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible. Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?”
‘Administrative Bloat’

U.S. universities employed more than 230,000 administrators in 2009, up 60 percent from 1993, or 10 times the rate of growth of the tenured faculty, those with permanent positions and job security, according to U.S. Education Department data.

Spending on administration has been rising faster than funds for instruction and research at 198 leading U.S. research universities, concluded a 2010 study by Jay Greene, an education professor at the University of Arkansas.

“Administrative bloat is clearly contributing to the overall cost of higher education,” Greene said in a telephone interview.

Purdue and other public universities, which rely on state taxpayers, have become a flashpoint for anger about bureaucratic spending. State colleges have long been considered affordable havens for those of modest means, yet they have raised tuition faster than their costlier private peers.
Taxpayer Cost

The cost of attending Purdue, in West Lafayette, Indiana, leaped about 60 percent over the past decade. Including room, board and other expenses, undergraduates from Indiana pay $23,000 -- out-of-state students, $42,000 -- similar to other Midwestern public colleges.

“Parents can spend $60,000 to send their kid to Harvard -- that’s their choice,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of a 2011 book critical of college administrative spending. “The taxpayers support state universities. It’s much more incumbent on them to justify their costs.”

Purdue says bureaucratic expansion hasn’t led to higher tuition.

Rather, state funding, which makes up 13 percent of its budget, hasn’t kept pace with the university’s rising costs, according to Timothy Sands, the school’s acting president. Purdue has beefed up its staff for fundraising and marketing, partly to attract full-paying students from other states and around the world, Sands said in an interview at his office, overlooking the school’s main quadrangle.

Lean Operation

To maintain its position as a top-ranked university, Purdue must also administer hundreds of millions of dollars in government and industry research grants, Sands said.

“This is a $2.2 billion operation -- you’ve got to have some people involved in administering it, managing it, running it, leading it,” Sands said. “We’re about as lean as we can afford to be.”

Purdue officials acknowledge that, as the administration has expanded, spending on instruction has lagged behind. The university plans to hire more than 100 engineering professors in the next five years. The average full professor at Purdue gets a $125,000 salary, according to the university. Unlike many other colleges, Purdue hasn’t turned to low-paid, part-time faculty, a move that has offset the declines in tenured professors elsewhere, the school said.

Administrative salaries and other expenses -- as well as tuition costs and debt -- are drawing ire on other campuses.

UConn Salaries

Trustees at the University of Connecticut’s flagship campus in Storrs, known for its NCAA champion Huskies basketball teams, said last year they were reviewing the level of administrators’ pay. The move followed a controversy over the then campus police chief, who received $256,000 annually -- more than New York City’s police commissioner.

UConn has a $312,000-a-year provost and 13 vice, deputy and associate vice provosts, including one overseeing “engagement” who makes almost $275,000 a year. The university has seven vice presidents and 13 deans. President Susan Herbst, who receives a $500,000 salary, has a $199,000 chief of staff.

UConn’s police chief had broad responsibilities, and he was replaced with a $165,000-a-year official with a narrower job, said Stephanie Reitz, a spokeswoman for the campus.

“UConn’s administrative structure is an appropriately sized, comparatively lean operation,” Reitz said in an e-mail.

At the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, the faculty senate studied its school’s own bureaucracy and found duplication among its eight vice presidents, said Russell Luepker, a professor of public health. In particular, most had their own communications office.
Faculty Complaints

As part of an overhaul of its management, the university eliminated a senior vice president’s position this month and will cut an additional 5 1/2 administrative jobs, said Chuck Tombarge, a University of Minnesota spokesman. Eric Kaler, who became president in July 2011, is reducing annual administrative expenses by $1.6 million, Tombarge said.

The fight over such costs has become especially public and bitter at Purdue.

Nestled in the corn and soybean fields around its main campus, 65 miles northwest of Indianapolis, Purdue turns out engineers sought by blue-chip employers, such as General Electric Co., which recruits on its campus. It counts 23 astronauts among its graduates, including the first and last men to walk on the moon: Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan.

Purdue’s faculty senate, led by Robinson, has taken its complaints to both the trustees and the school’s soon-to-be president, Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s Republican governor known for his budget cutting.

President-Elect

Daniels says he’s sympathetic to faculty complaints.

“When your spending goes up at a rocket rate, it’s pretty hard for state support to keep up,” Daniels said in an interview at the Indianapolis State House. He wants to take a look at administrative costs that he suspects are “marbled” throughout the university, he said.

Daniels said he was horrified when he heard that Purdue was renovating his 4,000-square-foot campus office suite in anticipation of his move -- a decision he called “not the right signal, not the right priority.”

The cost: $355,000.

Amid controversy over such spending, the debt of the average Purdue graduate who borrowed rose 74 percent in the past decade to about $27,000.

John Stucker, a senior from Cincinnati, must pay back $80,000 he took out in student loans or borrowed from his parents. During a break from an engineering lab, he questioned the number of Purdue administrators.
Frustrated Students

“It’s frustrating,” said Stucker, a 21-year-old engineering major. “They’re making ridiculous money, and they’re not even teaching students.”

Kyle Pendergast, a 20-year-old junior from Orange County, California, heard faculty complaints about administrative spending at a student-government meeting this month. Pendergast, a student senator, expects to graduate with $20,000 in loans.

“It seems ridiculous that some Purdue administrators make so much money when I don’t know what they do on a daily basis,” said Pendergast, a biomedical engineering major.

Alexander Francis, an associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences, said he used to have as many as four teaching assistants for his speech course, with about 70 students. Now, he has two for 100 undergraduates. Purdue has reduced the number of graduate teaching assistants by 17 percent over the past decade.

“We keep cutting what we’re supposed to put first, which is teaching,” Francis said.
. . . . .

Another administrative initiative has agitated the faculty: possibly changing the academic calendar to a trimester from a semester system. The switch would let Purdue use empty buildings year-round. It could also offer popular courses to students over the summer, so more will graduate in four years.
More Committees

First, though, the concept required hiring a new administrator: Frank Dooley, a $172,000-a-year associate vice provost and professor of agricultural economics. Dooley and a part-time financial analyst will cost the university $212,000 a year, excluding benefits.

The associate vice provost works in an 8-by-10-foot windowless office in the building that houses Purdue’s president. Dooley plans to establish seven or eight committees of professors, administrators, students and others for discussion and fact-gathering. He expects a decision in 2015.

“I look at myself as an envoy or ambassador,” Dooley said. “My job is to make sure these seven or eight committees are aware of what’s going on in the other committees.”

Marcus Rogers, a Purdue professor of information technology, views Dooley less as a diplomat and more as a symbol of misplaced priorities.

“We have more vice provosts, vice presidents and assistant vice presidents than we’ve ever had before,” Rogers said. “Now, we’re spending $250,000 a year to oversee something we haven’t even agreed to.”

To contact the reporter on this story: John Hechinger in Boston at jhechinger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net
__________________

These issues are no less real at Penn State.  Indeed, they may be more profound.  The current focus of most investigators on bloat look at central administration.  More pernicious and potentially more damaging to budgets are the replication of bloating habits at the unit level--colleges, campuses and other academic units of a university.  When academic deans try to use their own budgets to augment their administrative staffs, and to do it in an opaque way with little to no consultation, and then to use those choices to create the sort of budget constraints that make tenure line faculty hiring harder, it perverts the essential accountability and collegiality premises at the heart of shared governance.  It may be that none of this is occurring at Penn State.  My own experiences here in discussion with many others suggests otherwise in many academic units of this institution.

I have tasked out University Planning standing committee to look more closely at the issue of administrative bloat, taking inspiration from the work now being undertaken at Purdue. Penn State was rudely shocked a year ago when outsiders suggested to that its failures of governance centered on the cultivation of large areas of uncontrolled and unaccountable power.  Hiring is one of those areas that receives far less attention than it should, and administrative hiring patterns tend to fall well below the radar.  All too often there is far too little oversight by university officials of patterns of administrative hiring by unit administrators, something that is usually viewed as well within administrative discretion (bit which is usually effectuated with little to no consultation within academic units). Yet the effects of these administrative hiring decisions are profound and have a direct effect on everything from faculty hiring and support to the quality of education.  For that reason alone, it is far too dangerous to leave such policies solely to administrative officials without transparency, and monitoring by faculty, alumni and the board of trustees.  The Faculty Senate ought to do its part--that part involves efforts to create greater and more open cultures of transparency in administrative hiring, information gathering to serve as a basis for better governance decisions, and and to help cultivate administrative governance cultures in which  administrators engage in greater transparency in their policies and justifications for their administrative hires. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment