Some call it "Administrative Bloat"

Reliable sources, including the Chroncicle of Higher Education, have reported that now administrators in higher education in the USA outnumber full-time faculty. I thought it would be interesting to track that trend here during the tenure of our current president--especially since the recent draft copy of our systems portfolio report to the Higher Learning Commission gave concise totals for 2009. It might provide some context for my earlier blog post about the internet parable of the canoe race.

So to get some points of comparison, I selected 4 college catalogues from previous years: 1987-88 (the year prior to Dr. Yowell's arrival), 1993-94 (the first year of the semester calendar), 1998-99, and 2003-04. That's around five year's separation between each catalogue. Finally, I took the figures from the systems portfolio draft report.

Now, it's not easy to tease out precise figures because Edison's catalogue does not clearly differentiate between administrators and administrative support staff. My count here is based on job titles. I counted as administrators anyone whose job title was president, vice-president, dean, coordinator, manager, or director. Faculty, of course, are easier to identify since our titles are always instructor or professor.

1987-88: 35 faculty 29 administrators
1993-94: 40 faculty 38 administrators
1998-99: 36 faculty 36 administrators
2003-04: 40 faculty 43 administrators
2009.....: 50 faculty 67 administrators

So the full-time faculty of the college has increased by 43% in those 22 years, most of the increase recently and mostly due to certification requirements for new health care programs.

Meanwhile, administrators have increased by 131%. Some increase would be expected due to growth in enrollment and programs, increased use of technology, and government mandates. But we may well wonder at the rationale for this degree of top-heaviness.


Chance said...

BLOAT is one way a poor administration goes about distancing itself from its responsibilities -- in this instance by redistributing the responsibilities in as many directions as possible to as many people as possible. Am surprised we don't have an administrator to keep track of the administrators. (Hmmm . . . or is that what Jane is doing when she takes attendance at "command performance" meetings like servant leadership and the convocation?)

The other way you distance yourself from your responsibilities is through processes and mechanisms like our beloved CQI. In that instance the administration has tried to create a series of processes which take the place of responsible decision-making by responsible people. CQI has a net result of removing the weight of responsiblities from our growing list of administrators. Really a thing of idiotic beauty.

If CQI and its associated mechanisms actually worked, it seems logical we would have FEWER administrators rather than more. But that's clearly not been the case, now has it?

If our administrators were truly responsible and held accountable, then we wouldn't have to waste a couple of hundred thousand dollars on CQI-related costs each year. But that's not the case either.

The only way out is to start over from scratch. New president. New Board. New administration. New direction and a glimmer of hope.



Class of '04 said...

Holy cow - 67 administrators? Let me make a WAG here and guess that there's been a big increase in Brubaker's area.

From the dark said...

Bloated hell! Harem scarum!

TR said...

I'm not planning to look at the listings more closely to test your theory, Class of 04, but my institutional memory tells me that the increase in administrators in Student Services began in the early 90s and has been incremental rather than exponential. Now, Student Services does seem to have employed more student workers--which is a good thing, since student workers take on less debt, are more involved in campus, and are more likely to complete a degree.

If I were to WAG, I'd say that it looks like much of the increase is in academics. Where once we had one VP and 2-3 associate deans, now it's a VP, 3-4 division deans, 3-4 associate deans, and maybe an assistant dean or two. Consider that one of the major duties of academic deans--recruiting and scheduling adjunct faculty--has been largely delegated to full-time faculty who sign on as scheduling and staffing coordinators. The job of dean must have gotten incredibly complex in other areas to justify this expansion.

Then there are areas that did not exist at all a dozen years back, like institutional effectiveness and strategic human resource management.

It's not my bailiwick to rule on what mix of administrators is mission critical here. But I'm not the only one who wonders if the "too many chiefs, not enough indians" cliche is starting to apply not only at Edison, but across all levels of public education.

From the dark said...

Before TR back before 1980 there was Jim Seitz, Chuck Shoop, Walt Fields, Jim Kelly, Scott Altman, Don Hammond, Gary Wilson, David Wiltshire, Bob Cox and James Funkhouser. That was the entire administration. If you check student enrollment numbers, be aware that we now count much of our B&I enrollment and back then (our continuing ED days) we did not.

If you can get equivalent counts of students at Edison then and now I believe you will find it startling that the head count has not changed.

Now 10 verse 67 is scary, with or without student workers.

TR, do you make it down to Student Services very often?

TR said...

I mostly visit student services to gloat at Sean Ford about how sad his fantasy football team is. (Hope Sean is a regular reader here...)

I could go back to my first year as a student in a community college--granted it was a different system, state-wide rather than fragmented. But with a headcount of 1501 and FTE of around 1200 (just a bit smaller than Edison), we got along with one president, a registrar, and standard department heads. No other administration--student activities and financial aid were handled by a secretary.

Note that similar things have happened at the K-12 level. I attended public school in a district almost identical in size and socio-economic strata as Piqua. My district had one superintendent, one principal per building, and two high school teachers who were paid extra to be "dean" of boys and of girls. Today's Piqua public schools have a superintendent, several assistant superintendents, some grant writers, curriculum coordinators for each major discipline, a principal and assistant principal per building (and I think 2 assistants at the high school?), and one or more title administrators. Oh, and can't forget director of athletics.

There's probably a popular book here for anyone who wants to dissect how similar administrative bloat has raised costs in education, health care, and corporations in general.

I don't want to give a false impression; administration and management are essential functions, and a good academic administrator improves faculty--and I've known several such administrators at Edison. But there's a point at which too many administrators exhaust the resources of the organization in a non-productive process of justifying their own existence.