Tuesday, August 17, 2010

 

A Response to The New Faculty Majority

The New Faculty Majority has drafted a proposal calling for adjuncts to get tenure (or its functional equivalent) and proportional pay and benefits for their teaching.

A few thoughts:

First, I understand the impulse, and there’s some validity to it. Folks on my side of the desk often claim, correctly, that part of the appeal of adjuncts is flexibility. In return, union activists typically brush aside concerns from flexibility as euphemisms for cheapness. Controlling for cost actually isolates flexibility as a variable. Given parity, would we still have adjuncts? I say yes, because enrollments aren’t perfectly predictable, departures aren’t perfectly predictable, and some subject areas will never have high enrollments. (Will we ever have enough students to justify a full-time professor for every instrument the music department teaches? No.) When you have enrollment peaks and valleys following economic cycles, you simply can’t have perfectly steady-state staffing. It cannot be done. Flexibility is not just a euphemism.

It’s also true that the expectations for professionalism in the classroom are the same. I don’t expect adjuncts to attend meetings for which they aren’t paid, but when teaching a class, I fully expect them to do a good job. And most do. In my adjuncting days, I did. If the expectations are the same, there’s an argument for the pay to be the same.

I’ll even grant that it’s true that many newer adjuncts are as qualified, if not more so, than some of the folks who get tenure decades ago. To my mind, that says as much about tenure as it does about adjuncts, but you can read it the other way, too.

And I get the basic awfulness of trying to cobble together a living one course at a time. Been there, done that. No argument there.

I’ll stipulate that the NFM basically means well, and is motivated by sincere concern for some folks who’ve been struggling for a long time.

All of that granted, though, I’m not convinced. In fact, I’m not even convinced they’re asking the right questions.

I’ll start with a really basic fact. Over 80 percent of my college’s budget is labor, and instruction is the single largest part of that. The college’s operating income -- that is, the money that we can use to pay for salaries and ongoing expenses -- comes from exactly two sources: tuition and the state. If you push through a drastic increase in labor costs, how, exactly, do you propose to pay for it?

Do you propose doubling tuition? Are you seriously trying to argue that the major issue with the economics of higher education is that tuition hasn’t been going up fast enough? That students are graduating (or dropping out) with insufficient loan debt? To my mind, and to most of the public’s mind, this argument is dead on arrival. If anything, we need to reduce the rate of tuition increase, not accelerate it. A drastic hike in tuition costs is simply off the table.

Do you propose squeezing more out of the state? I’d love to see that happen, too. What’s the missing tactic? What can we try that hasn’t been tried? And how do we ensure that the increase survives administrations of both parties, and both good times and bad? How do you help the state meet its obligations to K-12, corrections, health care, and pensions, and still have enough left over to meet the newly-raised needs of higher ed? If you have an idea, I’m all ears. If not, your proposal is not to be taken seriously.

You could always demagogue it and go with administration and/or athletics. Go ahead. Do the math. I make less than the average tenured English professor at the state university; if you want to talk bloat, let’s really talk bloat. In the community college world, administration and athletics are not, by and large, big ticket items. My college has fewer deans now than it had two years ago, and it has cut several teams already. I have no issue with those who say that, for example, Rutgers University’s decision to double down on football was tragically stupid; it was. But we don’t have a football team. You can’t cut below zero.

In terms of administration, what would you cut? Should we stop trying to comply with the ADA? Should we stop evaluating faculty altogether, and just trust that everybody is perfect? Perhaps we should stop giving financial aid, since it requires so many staff. Who cares about accreditation? Who cares about IT? Who cares about payroll? (Whoops.)

In my experience, carping about “administrative bloat” is similar to Republicans carping about “wasteful government.” It feels good, it gives a common enemy, and it lets you dodge some difficult questions. But until you actually specify what you’re talking about, it’s bluffing. You want to reduce the salaries of a few Big 10 Presidents? Knock yourself out, but don’t pretend for one minute that that’ll help me balance my books. It won’t.

Can you guarantee that enrollments will never go down? How? Because if you can’t, then asking me to commit to the current staffing level -- which is what tenure for adjuncts would amount to -- would guarantee insolvency at the first enrollment dip. If you can, I’d love to hear how...

Can you guarantee that the distribution of students among programs will never change? If not, then building in tenure for everybody will guarantee underused staff the first time the enrollments shift. And it will guarantee seat shortages in the newly popular areas, since I’ll be so swamped trying to pay for the tenured that I won’t be able to hire new people.

Or, are you proposing that we add up all the tenured and adjunct salaries, and simply divide? That would be revenue-neutral, and would result in some serious raises for the adjuncts. The tenured folk would probably get a little crabby, though. (For that matter, I’d love to see the faculty meeting in which you guys float your proposal to ban overloads. Hoo boy, good luck with that...) Hell, while we’re at it, ‘parity’ with whom, exactly? Different tenure-track professors make different salaries, based on all kinds of variables. And would freeway fliers get tenure at three or four different places simultaneously? Would I be obligated to work with those schools for years to come to cobble together schedules? If so, we’ll need a lot more administrators to coordinate it...

This proposal is so far removed from the reality of running a college that it’s genuinely difficult to take seriously. It’s the result of asking the wrong questions.

The right question is not how to squeeze more people into an unsustainable structure. The right question is how to make the structure sustainable. That requires serious discussions of flexibility, productivity, accountability, and funding streams. It requires acknowledging the reality of the tuition cost spiral, state budget deficits, and Republicans. Wish lists won’t cut it.

If the NFM wanted to engage the right questions, I would be more than happy to welcome it to the discussion. But if the best it can muster is “the same, but more,” I have work to do. We all do.

Comments:
Though the comments you give as per the inefficacy of giving adjuncts tenure-together with not giving adjuncts (which is a word I personally detest)any real financial-vocational benefits that alter their present cobble-together-a-living-status appear reasonable and well-grounded, I feel that they represent one more example of administrative status quo nonthinking.

Unlike you, I have not ascended the slow and steep ranks of part-time instructordom to the Olympian heights of administration. I might dare to say that I have as little idea of what administrators, especially college deans, have to go through, as your memory serves you as per what life is like for a part-time instructor. But I can guess.

What I can guess, Dean, is that administrators have a regular, and relatively decent salary that is guaranteed them, whatever volume or quality of work it is you do. And you have benefits, like paid vacations, 401-Ks, health plans, credit union accounts, plus the sheer joy of regular hours working in one place for a full work day, and not subjecting yourselves to the joys of commuting frenziedly from one campus to the other, often at inconvenient hours, just, again, to cobble together a living.

These perks are generally shared with full-time titled profs, with the exception that at most schools, and for most faculty, unless they are safely tenured or related to the dean, etc, they are milked to death to churn out x quantity of reams of generally tedious, boring, opaque written analyses of this or that microscopic issue still awaiting final scholarly extinction. Administrators, like you, aren't even called upon to come up with this much originality. You are paid, and again, paid rather well, at real jobs, to, well, administrate. (What is it that you guys really do?)

Well, you can have it, bud. As an "adjunct" since the early 1990s at a number of colleges, in two states, I can confidently say that I perform a far more valuable service,inspiring kids right in the undergrad trenches, to pursude their studies, to draw significant present meaning from their academic subjects, than do the serried hordes of you administraive types. Why can't we part-timers do what you do? What is it that you do, what qualifications do you and your kind have that qualifies you to sit in your offices far from the classrooms, treat students as open wallets and instructors as squat labor, and command good salaries and enviable perks. It is you who are the superfluous extras, not us; we keep these schools open and thriving and fully-staffed with legions of students, not you. We can easily do whatever it is you do that enables you to maintain a comfy little life in the American dream.

So, please go back to blogging about the tedium of your family, of having to deal with an unpleasant relative's visit, of an unexpected home repair problem...whatever, and don't pontificate on how much of a problem we part-time instructors are. Though teaching is an art, and not all are called to the banner, anyone can be an administrator, or a dean.
 
A few years ago I was involved in a legislative task force that looked at part time faculty parity. It wasn't supposed to focus on community colleges but the 4-year sectors through us under the bus (surprise surprise) due to the high rate of adjunct use. I believe it was determined that to bring "parity" in pay and benefits would have cost the state something like $38 to $45 million. I believe the faculty union tried to say it would have only cost $12 to $18. By the way, that is just the cost to the state. That doesn't count any resulting county or tuition increases that may have been necessary.
One of the main arguments from the adjunct sector was equal pay for equal work. When I asked how it was equal work when they weren't expected to serve on committees, advise students, create or review curriculum...I was told that they would do that if they were asked/allowed. I tried to explain that contracts don't work that way. I can clean the restrooms, empty the trash and paint our office but I shouldn't expect my employer to pay me extra for it; that isn't what I was hired to do. They all looked at me like I had two heads.
 
Though the comments you give as per the inefficacy of giving adjuncts tenure-together with not giving adjuncts (which is a word I personally detest)any real financial-vocational benefits that alter their present cobble-together-a-living-status appear reasonable and well-grounded, I feel that they represent one more example of administrative status quo nonthinking.

Unlike you, I have not ascended the slow and steep ranks of part-time instructordom to the Olympian heights of administration. I might dare to say that I have as little idea of what administrators, especially college deans, have to go through, as your memory serves you as per what life is like for a part-time instructor. But I can guess.

What I can guess, Dean, is that administrators have a regular, and relatively decent salary that is guaranteed them, whatever volume or quality of work it is you do. And you have benefits, like paid vacations, 401-Ks, health plans, credit union accounts, plus the sheer joy of regular hours working in one place for a full work day, and not subjecting yourselves to the joys of commuting frenziedly from one campus to the other, often at inconvenient hours, just, again, to cobble together a living.

These perks are generally shared with full-time titled profs, with the exception that at most schools, and for most faculty, unless they are safely tenured or related to the dean, etc, they are milked to death to churn out x quantity of reams of generally tedious, boring, opaque written analyses of this or that microscopic issue still awaiting final scholarly extinction. Administrators, like you, aren't even called upon to come up with this much originality. You are paid, and again, paid rather well, at real jobs, to, well, administrate. (What is it that you guys really do?)

Well, you can have it, bud. As an "adjunct" since the early 1990s at a number of colleges, in two states, I can confidently say that I perform a far more valuable service,inspiring kids right in the undergrad trenches, to pursude their studies, to draw significant present meaning from their academic subjects, than do the serried hordes of you administraive types. Why can't we part-timers do what you do? What is it that you do, what qualifications do you and your kind have that qualifies you to sit in your offices far from the classrooms, treat students as open wallets and instructors as squat labor, and command good salaries and enviable perks. It is you who are the superfluous extras, not us; we keep these schools open and thriving and fully-staffed with legions of students, not you. We can easily do whatever it is you do that enables you to maintain a comfy little life in the American dream.

So, please go back to blogging about the tedium of your family, of having to deal with an unpleasant relative's visit, of an unexpected home repair problem...whatever, and don't pontificate on how much of a problem we part-time instructors are. Though teaching is an art, and not all are called to the banner, anyone can be an administrator, or a dean.
 
At our college, adjuncts would be needed to deal with the fall-to-spring drop in sections offered. Isn't that the case everywhere?

I've been looking at the equal pay question, to see how much the pay of senior full-time faculty and new nursing faculty would have to be cut to implement your vague "fully contracted" faculty plan at our college, and the trickiest question is how many that would be. We teach a more sections in the fall than in the spring. (Summer is a separate issue, but not decoupled from the other one because it impacts total compensation.) However, paying everyone roughly the same per-class rate makes the calculation easier.

So....

Would retention increase if the number of full time faculty increased? (I think this is unlikely, since much of retention appears to be of external origin.)

Could you get good adjuncts if you only hired most of them for classes in the fall? (Apart from a few who would be needed in spring to be safe within the enrollment fluctuations we get from year to year in different departments, I think the answer is no ... but they might teach at the university in the spring for lower pay.)

Would your union accept having a single class of faculty, where everyone gets the same pay rate regardless of experience or additional duties? (We don't have a union, but we could not hire experienced faculty or qualified nursing faculty if pay were cut as significantly as your plan requires.)

Would your administration accept having a single class of staff and administrators, where the head of financial aid makes the same as the back-room staffer? (I think we all know the answer to this one. Socialism for the faculty, Capitalism for administration, right? I'm smiling when I write this, thinking of a faculty union activist who makes more than twice what new faculty make, even more than a Dean.)
 
Unlike Marcus, my remarks assume a CC environment.

The R1 situation, where faculty are hired primarily to do research and generate external funds (almost as if they were paid only from the research contract, only they aren't) and adjuncts teach most of the classes, is quite different.

And I wouldn't describe being paid more than our Dean while teaching one class as being "milked to death".
 
I forgot to mention that the NFM missed the detail that universities actually do give equal pay for equal work!

The NFM is under the illusion that the university values teaching. They don't. They pay adjuncts exactly what they pay the full professors for teaching. The extra pay that professors get is for research.
 
"the average tenured English professor at the state university"

Question: Are you talking about the highest research productivity (flagship, etc.) State Uni like Rutgers? Or about a regional comprehensive university? I applaud the rhetorical choice you make here, but there's a REALLY big difference between the two.

The other thing I'd say is that I don't think the issue is very small niche areas (your example being music with all the different instruments) but rather those areas where your "flexibility" argument falls apart. A desire for flexibility might indicate the need for, say, 10-20 sections of composition taught by adjuncts per term (and that's being generous). It would NOT account for 100+ sections of composition taught by adjuncts per term. (I'm using rough numbers from my own institution here). The flexibility argument only holds up if you don't look at courses like composition and speech, where the number of adjuncts teaching far exceeds any need for flexibility.

As I understand it, the issue with funding is this: tuition has not increased at the level that state budgets for education have been slashed. Those budgets have been slashed because of an unwillingness to increase taxes. So. No, the state budgets aren't going to somehow find double the money to make up for decades of that trend, and people aren't somehow going to look the other way at massive tuition hikes. So how do we pay for it?

The fact is, I don't know enough about the numbers side to make a reasonable suggestion. I'm thinking about it. Your post made me think a lot. But it does strike me that we can't begin to consider the problem until we honestly admit that the majority of adjuncts to do not exist so that we'll have some flexibility with scheduling. They exist because institutions do not want to pay for faculty that they know full well that they need for instruction. They do not value either the employees that they routinely exploit, nor do they value the students who receive adjunct instruction not as a last resort but rather as a first and cheapest option.

Until institutions (administrators as well as full-time faculty) and the general public own up to that, I don't see where we can find a way into the money question. The reality is that this isn't just a money problem - it's an ethical one.
 
I would like to point out that, while I agree with the sediment that teaching is "a valuable service, inspiring undergrads...", no one forces people to become adjuncts. Before I went down the PhD-wandering academic path, I realized the concept of opportunity cost. In the same time I could maybe finish my studies and start to look for work I could be gearing up in another career that is fulfilling, enjoyable and economically stable. Somehow people think that teaching/researching is the "only" path to take, and somehow more "noble" than others, but it really isn't. Perhaps is more adjuncts realized that "Hey, I'm smart, why don't I just look for a different job!", then this post-secondary staffing situation might change.
 
Marcus, that's fantastic. I can tell from your comment you would make a great Dean! It's an easy gig, go for it. Get those perks!

As far as paying adjuncts a decent wage, Minnesota state colleges and universities pay adjuncts at the same rates as full-time faculty. From what I can see, this hasn't bankrupted or destroyed our colleges. Far from it.
 
We have been working toward increasing compensation for adjunct faculty to an equitable level. Being a quarter-based college, a full teaching load is considered 3 courses. So we roughly figure that each course constitutes 1/4 of the work required (i.e. 3/4 of the work is devoted to teaching), with the remaining 1/4 devoted to office hours, committees, advising, etc.

Our premise is that if an adjunct teaches those same 3 courses, s/he should be paid 3/4 of the full-time salary because s/he is not compensated for any of those additional duties. If an adjunct instructor can get 4 courses per quarter, then s/he would be making the same salary as an untenured full-time instructor.

This seems fair, and it took us several years to get there, but we have pulled it off. To be sure, there are some full-time faculty who do not devote 1/4 of their time to non-teaching work, and even super-experienced adjunct faculty make the same as new faculty. Still, its a start.
 
Canadian adjuncts are, for the most part, unionized and have fought long and hard for decent wages and benefits. Canadian universities are not falling on hard times because they have to pay adjuncts more than American universities, or provide them with benefits, they are in financial trouble because they made really bad investment choices (hello University of Toronto, which used an aggressive American-style investment strategy and is now in serious debt territory) and administrative bloat. This is from Maclean's magazine in January.

"Shockingly, 20 cents is now spent on central administration for every dollar spent on instruction and non-sponsored research; back in 1987-88, 12 cents went to administration. At the average top 25 university, central administration (including external relations) now consumes $18 million that previously would have flowed to instruction. (For a G13 school, it’s $20 million; for the top 5, $39 million.)" http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/14/where-all-that-money-is-going/

So please, don't tell me that administration doesn't cost more that it used to. Please don't blame adjuncts for wanting decent living wages in return for their 'flexibility' (can you think of another class of workers that trades 'flexibility' for such low wages? Not consultants, no, but day labourers maybe). It is actually the State's (writ large) responsibility to find the money and have the political balls to raise taxes and stop pretending like you can run things without any money. Grow up and pay your taxes North Americans, or accept that your societies will become something completely different, and probably not very pleasant.
 
DD wrote: "I’d love to see the faculty meeting in which you guys float your proposal to ban overloads. Hoo boy, good luck with that. . ."

Last Spring semester, at a time when administration cut class offerings by 25% even though the district had millions of dollars in reserve, the union at my SoCal cc (and I was president at the time), did EXACTLY that: No overload classes for full-timers until adjuncts with three semesters of previous employment got their usual teaching loads.

Of course, there was some email whining from a very vocal--and very small--number of full-timers, but the huge majority of faculty supported doing what was right.

Flexibility: I've heard this argument for decades, and, sure, administration needs some degree of flexibility in staffing. But when half of all course offerings are taught by part-timers, flexibility clearly isn't the issue. Money is.

I've always wondered why flexibility doesn't apply to administrative positions as well. Because there's no such animal as an adjunct administrator, it must be that administrators' work comes in 40 hour/week quanta.

--Philip
 
Here's an important point to keep in mind in this discussion: after controlling for plausible confounds, heavy reliance on adjuncts is related to worse student outcomes. This is not to cast aspersions on adjuncts' teaching, but rather to point out that students benefit when their instructors have office hours, ample opportunities for professional development to improve teaching skills and professional knowledge, extensive understanding of the local college culture, and so on. I recognize DD's point that creating a stable and equitably paid teaching workforce in community colleges would increase operating costs, but we can also be relatively confident that it would improve the quality of the educational experience.

So the dilemma as I see it is this.
1. We can "regularize" the teaching workforce to end the existing apartheid instructional system; however, the increased salary costs would require us to limit enrollments, particularly in high-cost career and technical education programs. (I agree wholeheartedly with DD that getting rid of "administrative bloat" won't fill the salary gap.)
2. We can maintain the same level of access for students, but increased reliance on adjunct faculty will significantly reduce the quality of instruction.

I have no resolution to this dilemma. Pick your poison.
 
Philip --

I really need to correct you on the "adjunct administrators" line. They're actually quite common, and they come in three flavors.

1. Multiple positions combined into one.

2. Part-time positions.

3. Faculty on reassigned time to do administrative work.

To the rest, I'll note that if you think I'm opposed to fair pay for fair work, you haven't read me very well. My point here is that if you want to raise the pay of a huge number of people in the system, you'll need a huge infusion of money into the system. Until I hear a good argument where that money will come from, I consider it fantasizing.

As to Canada, I'll note that they made the choice for single-payer health insurance, which means that colleges don't have to pick it up themselves. Let me offload the cost of health insurance onto the state, and I'll hire more, too. I'm a huge fan of single-payer for any number of reasons, but to leave it out of the equation when doing the comparison is to miss something crucial.

On flexibility -- my point was that it's dishonest to reduce a discussion of flexibility to a discussion of cost. It's more than that. Yes, of course, cost is a huge driver; that's why I hit the budgetary note so hard. But even with plenty of money, you will still face enrollment fluctuations beyond what "planning" can compensate for. And when declines hit, you need to be able to respond.
 
Philip --

I forgot a fourth category. Consultants!

My bad.
 
What JMG said.
 
Marcus, that's fantastic. I can tell from your comment you would make a great Dean! It's an easy gig, go for it. Get those perks!

LOL.
 
After working part-time at a for-profit school for a few years, I just got hired as an adjunct at a CC out in California. They pay their adjuncts 85% what their tenure-track instructors get (per hour), and (if the budget crisis ever ends and politics don't destroy things) there are people on both sides working to increase that to 100%.

Sure, it'll be nearly impossible to phase out the idea of adjuncts and make everyone full-time, but paying adjuncts a wage that's close to a full-time instructor's wage is a damned good push in the right direction.
 
Dr Crazy:

I've done the analysis for one R1 university (somewhere a few years back on my blog) and it shows that tuition increased much more than was required by state budget cuts after correcting for inflation.

Grumpy makes a good point:

DD, did you look at your college's budget from 10 and 20 and 30 years ago to see what the admin budget looked like? However, it can be tricky to decide what gets counted as admin and what must be counted as directly serving instruction via libraries, etc. Our college's public budget makes it impossible to tease out those numbers, but make it easy to see that only half of our employees are in the classroom.
 
The article I refer to above was written in July 2008. Here is a link to it.

The relevant tables, which are about halfway into that over-long blog, show that tuition would only have had to go up 44% in 30+ years (rather than 220%) if tuition only had to cover the cut in state funding. This is at an R1, not a regional school like Dr. Crazy's, but it shows what needs to be done to look at this issue rationally. (All numbers corrected for inflation using the standard CPI.)
 
I have to say, my University wastes a ton of money on IT services. They are redundant across many colleges, people don't share resources (for example, I only have 1 Media Teaching center available to me because the 10+ other schools that have them won't let me in when *they are not in use*). My school has already let go tens of IT people this year and should do it again.

The same can be said for parts of the administration. My mid-sized department has a shocking number of administrators and spends less than 1/2 per student that my mid-sized grad department spent. My grad-department had 1 admin person on site, and then a four person admin suite that handled 4 other departments. Somehow we got buy without two full time copy room supervisors and a dedicated room scheduler and a dedicated publicity person and three people dedicated just to grad admissions and paperwork.
 
DD, it's not the adjuncts' job to say where the money is coming from. It's their job to say that either they get paid a decent professional wage or classes don't get taught.

It's your job to go to the legislature and say, "This is how much it costs to teach a class, because the union demands that adjuncts be paid a living wage, and the college cannot ethically disagree with them, because we've seen the lower student outcomes associated with pawning stress off onto adjuncts."

If our society can only staff its colleges through brutalizing adjuncts and lying to them through grad school about their prospects, then maybe we need to have a conversation. But that conversation will only ever happen in the context of a system breaking down. So long as the adjuncts agree to be exploited, our damaged Higher Ed culture will agree to exploit them.
 
Marcus-
DD is simply showing some of the obstacles in giving adjuncts tenure/equal pay. In my opinion, what you said shows a heck of a lot more about your character than his.
 
Dean Dad:

An administrative line that combines formerly separate positions is not an adjunct administrative line - no more than is a tenure-track faculty line that combines two or three different areas of specialization. I assume that the administrator still gets full-time pay for a full-time job. Neither is the administrator/faculty member's position anything remotely like an adjunct's position, since again, the former is - at least in my experience - always full time and paid for full-time work (with benefits). I'm sure that each is stressed - but stressed with benefits is a lot different than stressed without benefits.

Look - would you please take some of the more thoughtful objections seriously? (What about the many statistics that indicate that administrative costs has increased more than instructional costs at various types of institutions)? I have read your blog for years and have always appreciated the relative sophistication of your views. But sometimes you sound like a talk radio host - and that response was one of them.
 
it seems like in many college/university systems, the number of 'administrators' has risen sharply in the last few decades.

It's easy to get statistics on this, but hard to get data on what all these newly hired administrators DO.

Is more administration required b/c students demand admin services that didn't use to be necessary?

Are there more federal/state laws that require compliance officers, data collection, etc??

For anyone who works on the administrative side of higher ed:

what are the main drivers in increasing the numbers of employees who are considered 'administrative'?
 
"For anyone who works on the administrative side of higher ed:

What are the main drivers in increasing the numbers of employees who are considered 'administrative'?"

That's a fair question. In my case, I work for our college's study abroad office. As we have had rising numbers of students participate in study abroad (a good thing!), we have had to increase our staff hours. And, for better or worse, students, their parents and the administration now expect the home university to be more involved with their own students abroad (in other words, it's no longer a case of, "Okay, you're off to Germany for a semester. Good luck with that!"), so administering different programs takes more time than it did 20 years ago.

In other cases, I think students are demanding services that didn't used to be necessary. Over the past ten years, we have seen a definite increase in students with declared psychological/mental health/physiological issues (ADHD, Aspergers, bipolar disorder, etc). These are perfectly bright students, but in decades past, they probably would not have made it to college. Our college has added an educational access coordinator and an academic support services person to help these students.

These are just two examples that I'm familiar with, but all of these new needs (perceived or real) add up.
 
if your school is a state school, then you can usually find what each person at that school makes, as it is state law that a states' employee's salary is public information. there's a website for it somewhere, you just gotta find it.

salary discrepancy is huge in administration. at our state U, deans make 6+ figures, no questions asked.

i know DD is getting dogged for admin stuff, but as someone in the know, it is all so true. the IT, grants and accounting departments are insanely bad. you could probably cut 50% of them and you may see an increase in productivity.

and DD is right about consultants. why universities and colleges pay so much is beyond me. our state U just reimplemented their financial systems. it was a 2-3 year contract, paying the consulting company $150-300 per man hour (about 10-15 people), plus per-diem. the contract said normal workers get $150, managers get $350. so boom, the contractor automatically made everyone a manager. do the math. $350 per hour * 10 workers * 3 years.

there's lots of forums out there where you can see how ridiculous it is to consult for a U.

i find it funny that universities teach people how to perform in a certain field, but often times have no idea how to hire/contract for those same fields.

and training. dear God. why do Us pay soo much for stupid, Godawful training? our local U hired a consultant for 2 weeks to teach financial software to the financial department, who was already using that software. they already knew it all! the consultant just sat there for 2 weeks. all because some stupid admin saw a brochure and had money to spend. $20k down the drain.
 
In my (Canadian) region, the number, and cost, of administrators has increased sharply in recent years. Not because of bloated empire building within the institution, but because of the government imposing reporting/structural requirements that, in the opinion of many, have nothing to do with operating the institution efficiently, and more to do with the government wanting to show how it's imposing some business sense on the fluffy-minded ivory tower inhabitants.

Don't assume that all increases in administrative cost/sizes are the institution's own choice.
 
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