Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Epidemic of Administrators

The increasing bureaucratization of education has now reached the tipping point where faculty represent less than half the full-time professional staff at Title IV institutions. I have not seen any data to be able to project when more than half of faculty time will be devoted to unproductive administrative duties, but what I noticed here is that that point will not be too far off in the future.

U.S. Department of Education. 2008. Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2006, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Faculty, 2006-07, NCES 2008-172 (Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics).

Only 48.6 percent of full-time professional staff at Title IV institutions are faculty, indicating a surge in administrators. In public institutions, 51.1 percent, while the figure for private institutions is 44%.

7 comments: said...

I agree that this is a bad trend, and I have certainly seen it at my institution. However, it should be kept in mind that a non-trivial portion of those people are probably secretarial staff and such like, not actual "administrators."

The real kicker in there is the increase in the share of faculty who are part-timers.


Sandwichman said...

To paraphrase GB Shaw: those who can't teach, administrate.

Michael Perelman said...

Barkley, secretaries are not classified as professional staff. said...


Maybe not in the California system, but here in Virginia, at least at James Madison U., the division is staff versus faculty, and the former includes secretaries and related types. Of course, there is certainly a proliferation of less useful types, assistant deans, and so forth, directors of meaningless programs, and so forth.

Robert D Feinman said...

It must be remembered that colleges are being required to take on tasks that are not traditional. How many now have drug counselling centers or employment placement advisers? How many have to help with applying for student aid?

Then there are services that students demand from more lavish accommodations (with management need for this) to improved sports and recreation facilities and improved computing and networking facilities.

Is the person who keeps the campus network going an "administrator"? I'll be his title has administrator in it somewhere.

Don't ignore all the staff needed to solicit contributions to the school and administer the endowment. If there is a research component than grants need to be administered as does licensing of any intellectual property which is generated.

It seems that teaching is just a byproduct in the modern mega-university. They have become big industrial firms just like in the industrial sector.

It would be interesting to see the figures broken down by type of institution. Do small liberal arts schools fare better?

Michael Perelman said...

Barkley, this is not all staff, but Professional Staff.

Jeremy said...

I think some commenters may be missing the point. Of course the institution needs a hefty administrative staff to run it, given its mandates and structure. That's the nature of these kinds of bureaucracies.

The issue is whether or not the institution itself is an efficient means to the core missionof education. If it incurs so much overhead, if it inevitably leads to growth for its own sake, maybe its not well suited to genuine education. At its ever growing price, it certainly isn't a good deal.

Read Ivan Illich and John Taylor Gatto. The former argues that institutions feed on their own inability to achieve any goals save their own perpetuation (administrative growth is the health of the non-productive institution). The latter makes the case that public education is the largest jobs project in history.