University branding and administrative bloat

The RG reprints a Bloomberg report on the growing pushback from faculty, students, and parents angry at how universities are wasting their money:

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.

Not clear how Interim Provost Jim Bean and his claims that UO spends 38% of what our peers do on central administration managed to avoid special mention. Thanks to anon for the tip, your gift certificate for a free scotch at the faculty club bar is in campus mail. 11/14/2012.

And in response to an obviously well informed commenter – thanks – I’m posting this from the Bunsis report this Feb – do you think it is an accurate reflection? Note that almost none of the faculty growth is TTF. They went from 635 to 683 over these 5 years.

UO finances and student debt

9/25/2012: The RG’s Diane Dietz digs into the student debt situation, with a focus on UO. Some tidbits:

The prisons’ share is $1.36 billion in the current two-year budget, compared with the $691 million for the entire, seven-school Oregon University System. 

Not clear if that includes direct state aid to students, a common way of understating higher ed spending.

Eckstein, formerly the UO student body president, said it’s too easy for universities to turn to students and require them to make up the shortfall. “What is the university doing as an institution to shoulder the burden of some of the state funding cuts? There were no specific answers on how the university made an effort to reduce costs before turning to tuition increases,” he said.

Jock Box, Mac court payments, rigged overhead rates, UO Police, administrative bloat have all been problems, here PERS gets its share of the blame for costs:

Mike Bellotti, former UO football coach and athletic director, is the top PERS beneficiary, receiving $496,000 annually. Former UO President Dave Frohnmayer; Frank Anderson, a longtime UO mathematics professor; and Peter Von Hippel, a UO professor of biophysical chemistry and molecular biology for 36 years, rank among the state’s top 10 PERS beneficiaries, each receiving well over $200,000 a year. [Much of these payments are essentially paid by PERS out of current contributions from state agencies like UO.]

Faculty and administrators got raises, too:

Last year, Lariviere handed out $5 million in special raises to 1,100 faculty members and administrators. “It was an effort to close the gap between where we were and our comparator institutions. We are now at 88 percent of the average,” said Berdahl, who temporarily took over after the state fired Lariviere, in part, because the raises flew in the face of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s directive that state agencies curb personnel costs. Again, this July, the university spent $2.6 million in a 3.5 percent across-the-board salary increase for 900 administrators, mostly middle managers and professional staff.

This is a long article covering many contentious issues. It’s good to see the RG taking a skeptical look at UO’s decisions.

Oregon universities are hiring (administrators).

From a very good piece by Hannah Hoffman in the Statesman Journal (She also had a recent story on PERS, and is now running the excellent “State Worker’s Blog“).

The boom is consistent with enrollment growth. So, how much of the hiring is new faculty? You could ask our clueless provost Jim Bean, but the best data I’ve seen is from the AAUP’s Howard Bunsis and his February report to the UO faculty union organizers. Bean and Berdahl’s failure to give a credible response – or any response – to this report is a big part of the reason we are now unionized. (Whoops –  as a comment notes, Bean was actually on “sabbatical” when the vote occurred. Lorraine Davis was acting provost.)

The increase in FT Faculty is largely adjuncts. There’s been very little increase in tenure track numbers at UO:
From 1992 to 2012 the number of students has increased by more than 50% (data here) and the number of tenure track faculty by less than 20%.
Since 2008 the number of students has increased about 20%, the number of tenure track faculty about 10%. 

New president to hire 300 new faculty

That would be Susan Herbst, the new President of the University of Connecticut. From the Chronicle, which also describes similar plans by Iowa and Minnesota:

Our power is always going to be in the faculty,” she says. “They’re the people with the ideas. I feel sometimes in higher education we’re forgetting that.”

Student enrollment at Connecticut has more than doubled since 1995, while the number of faculty has increased by only 16 percent, raising the student-to-faculty ratio from 14-to-1 to 18-to-1. Ms. Herbst wanted to reverse the trend and hired a consulting firm to help identify ways the university could find money for hiring. University officials estimate that the plan to create 300 faculty positions will cost about $50-million.

The consultants, McKinsey & Company, made suggests including revamping information-technologies services and centralizing purchasing, an area in which the consultants said the university could generate more than $20-million in savings. The consultants also recommended ways to increase revenue, such as by raising Connecticut’s relatively low parking fees and increasing ticket prices for athletics events.

Maybe our new president Mike Gottfredson will take a skeptical look at the bloated Johnson Hall budget and the ever increasing central administration tax rate in Brad Shelton’s budget model, and do something similar. Or maybe Provost Jim Bean – appointed without a search – will convince Gottfredson that the money’s better spent on hidden athletic subsidies like the Jock Box, BMWs and administrative sabbaticals, campus police 4×4’s, Rose Bowl junkets, and more “special assistants” like his friend John Moseley. Post on UO’s lack of a serious academic plan to hire faculty to teach all our new students is here. Berdahl’s surprise announcement that we will have 25,000 students this fall rather than the 24,000 planned for, is here.

Beavs sweep Ducks on public records access

5/28/2012: Back in November the RG editors criticized President Lariviere for the raises that brought down the Governor’s wrath, noting that fully 40% of the money was going to administrators:

“Bad Politics, Good Policy: The UO invests its tuition money in (some) people”

… The documents list “special equity raises” of $3.1 million for 743 faculty members and $1.8 million for 417 administrators. The faculty raises averaged 6.98 percent; administrators’ increases averaged 7.68 percent. …

How did the administration go about justifying raises for each other and benefits like cars and family Rose Bowl trips? The documents and thin rationalizations are here.

It took Nathan Tublitz more than three months to get this info via the public records process. Initially UO told him he’d have to pay $4,328.63 to see the records for all administrators. Tublitz narrowed his request to a few top administrators. Even after that it took more than a month, many emails, and a meeting of the Senate Transparency Committee to get UO to release this information.

Some faculty at Oregon State tried to get the same info for some of their top administrators, who also got some hefty raises. They sent the OSU public records officer an email, got a $35 estimate (should have asked for a fee waiver, this should be a slam dunk with their DA) and a week later they had the documents. Full dump here, warning 9MB file.

It’s the coverup that destroys trust. In a few short months Bob Berdahl has managed to do some major damage to the improvements in public records transparency initiated by Lariviere. It’s shameful. But I hadn’t realized we were this far behind.

Goodbye to all that academic planning

6/17/2012 update.

Latest rumors say we will have ~25,200 students on campus next fall, that doctoral enrollment is flat at less than 1200 instead of the 1500 in the plan, and that there will be ~30 more tenure-track faculty, for a total of about 725 instead of the ~796 in the plan.

To get back to the 1995 student/faculty ratio would take 961 tenure track faculty.

5/11/2012: Jim Bean’s 2009 academic plan is supposed to be UO’s working plan for our academic future. It’s mostly the usual JH yada-yada, but it does have a few numbers, all of which have been subsequently ignored:

Institution Size. We intend to increase the size of the incoming freshman class and to grow the campus to a total of 24,000 students (from 20,300 students). This managed and marginal growth …

Graduate Students. We intend to increase the proportion of graduate students (excluding law) from 15 percent to above 19 percent, which is more reflective of our AAU peers. …  Even more importantly for our viability as a world-class research institution, we seek to reverse the decline in doctoral student enrollment (down by eight percent since 2003) and reach a stable enrollment of 1500 doctoral students within five years (in Fall 2007 there were approximately 1100 doctoral students).

Faculty Size and Quality.
Any increase in student numbers must be met by an increase in faculty if we are to preserve our core educational mission — especially because UO faculty/student ratios are already low, relative to our AAU peers. We seek to increase the number of faculty by 100 to 125 tenure-track faculty lines …

The baseline year was 07-8. All numbers are for fall of the AY, from UO Institutional Research. Rumor has it that the administration is now planning on 25,200 students for 2012. If the student rumor is correct, we will need to have 97 new TT faculty hires, net of retirements and departures, coming to campus fall 2012 to return the Student/TTF ratio to its 2007 baseline, or a total of 795.

Year Students TT Faculty Student/TTF ratio
2007-08 20,376 642 31.7
2011-12 24,447 696 35.1
2012-13 25,200(?) ? ?

That’s not going to happen – our provosts have already spent too much money on guns, lawyers, their Johnson Hall renovations, raises, sabbaticals, cars, and sports junkets and subsidies. Here’s the plot of the number of students per TTF, through fall 2010:

UO’s finances

2/17/2012: I wish that UO’s CFO would give the faculty a honest talk about UO’s current spending and that our Provost would give a consult with the faculty about UO’s future budgeting priorities. But Jim Bean and Frances Dyke have never given us a clear data-based presentation of where they are spending our money, and what they think UO’s future spending priorities should be. It’s almost like they’ve got something to hide.

Information abhors a vacuum. So yesterday Howard Bunsis of the AAUP came and did our administration’s job for them. His slides are here. Here’s one particularly damning one.

I assume the faculty union organizers will post a video of this presentation soon. Howard Bunsis’s talk is the best argument I’ve seen for signing the union card, aside from the pandering nonsense Jim Bean delivers, here.

Update: A commenter posts a link to the 2008 Senate Budget Committee report on faculty salaries, here, with this figure:

Which side are you on?

2/16/2012: From the union organizer’s website here:

How can faculty have a real voice in setting priorities?

Thursday, February 16th
115 Lawrence

Hear speakers address these critical areas:

Howard Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and Secretary-Treasurer of the AAUP

Dr. Bunsis, an expert in the analysis of university budgets, previously presented his analysis of the UO’s financial condition in February 2011 ( This new presentation extends his analysis to budgetary developments during 2011-2012, some of which may have implications for the current legislative session. …

Or you can listen to our once and future beamer driving Provost Jim Bean brag about how UO spends only 38% of what our peers do on administration, here:

But don’t ask to see the public records – he’ll make you pay.

Administrative bloat, Delta Cost, Howard Bunsis

2/8/2012: Excellent story in the Chronicle on the Delta Cost Project on higher education, and their influence in the Obama administration and Congress.

I started this blog back in 2009, after the furlough town hall where the administration tried to convince the faculty to take voluntary pay cuts. (They took the cuts themselves too – but then offset them with raises. Provost Bean started 2009 with an annual salary of $295,000, took a few unpaid furlough days, then got a raise to $306,800. This was almost exactly enough to offset his furlough days. Actually it left him with an overall *gain* of some $246 for the year.) One striking part of the meeting was when Bean claimed UO’s administrative expenses were just 38% of our peers:

When I tried to get Bean to show me the documents supporting this assertion, I got the runaround for months. They eventually tried to charge me $75 to see the public records. Then it turned out Bean was using the wrong numbers. I got the right ones from The Delta Project and their online database of the federally required reports to IPEDS. Looking at UO’s spending per student FTE compared to Carnegie Public Research university averages, for 2008, they show UO spent:

  • $2,347 on Central administration. 96% of the average
  • $8,850 on Instruction. 91% of the average
  • $1,937 on Academic support: 70% of the average
  • $3,521 on Research. 63% of the average

Definitions here. These are the result of long trends. Since 2001 UO enrollment is up 26%, TT faculty up 9%, and administrators up 36%.

Now the faculty Union organizers will be staging a town hall of their own, Th Feb 16, 4-5:30 in 115 Lawrence. The first presenter:

Howard Bunsis, Ph.D., CPA, JD, an expert in the analysis of university budgets, previously presented his analysis of the UO’s financial condition in February 2011 (available online at–analysis-of-uo). This new presentation extends his analysis to budgetary developments during 2011-2012, some of which may have implications for the current legislative session.

His analysis from last year relied heavily on the Delta Cost data and was a welcome contrast to the distortions and confusion that our administration has put out on these issues. I’m looking forward to his update.

New Budget Model revisited

1/25/2012: Back in Feb 2010 – almost 2 years ago – I wrote the overly optimistic post below, about Brad Shelton’s “New Budget Model”. The idea was that money should follow students – except for a tax for central admin expenditures. At the time the tax rate for Johnson Hall was 28%. How’s this working out?

Not so good. Read Shelton’s web site here. The September 2011 tax rate had been raised to 35%. And it turns out even this is not enough to pay the $2 million in raises for administrators like Frances Dyke and de Kluyver, Jim Bean’s beamer and 5 big pet ideas, Police, the $1.83 million Bean and Frances Dyke have had us paying for Jock Box tutoring, subsidized overheads rates for athletics, etc. Forget about legitimate basic central administration functions like IT support, research startup, accounting, classrooms, etc.

So, word down at the faculty club is that the central administration is now organizing another raid on the money that is supposed to support our academic mission. Either another tax increase, or possibly new CFO Jamie Moffitt will abandon the whole thing, and go back to budgeting a la Moseley. Comments welcome.

2/11/2010: Brad Shelton, UO’s new VP for Budgeting, has been working on a new budget model for UO. This model will specify how UO’s money is allocated to the schools and the administration. I think this budget model will do three important things.

First, it will provide some basic transparency about where our money comes from and where it goes. Many of the newly available public resources on UO expenditures derive from Shelton’s need for the information to complete this process. Until he got involved, this information was deliberately hidden away from the faculty and even the colleges, and there was no prospect for open debate on UO spending priorities.

Second, the model will, for the first time, impose a hard budget constraint on the administration. In the past, when Frances Dyke and Linda Brady wanted to spend a few million remodeling Johnson Hall, or Frohnmayer wanted to give Moseley a fat retirement deal, or Moseley needed to spend a million on a new Diversity office quick to cover up a lawsuit, or Jim Bean wanted to give his friends a raise on the sly, they simply did it. Then they figured out later who to take the money from. Under the new model, the administration will get a cut of the gross, and they will have to live within it. How radical – education comes before administration.

Third, the model will make clear the extent to which student tuition money from CAS, Business and Journalism goes to support the other colleges and the such administrative adventures as Bend, Portland, Sustainability, OIED, and Bean’s “big ideas”. No comment on whether or not these are good ideas, but if they are good, why hide the numbers?

The basic plan is simple: Colleges will keep the tuition they collect, but pay a 28% tax to the administration for central services. The administration will also get the state allocations. (This seems odd – it would be more politic to allocate them to instruction.)  The details are already getting ugly however. The biggest issue – after the tax rate – is what gets grandfathered in. The administration has been on a splurge for the past 5 years – does this go into their base? Similarly, some colleges are subsidized by others. In particular, CAS and to a lesser extent Business subsidize Law, Music, Bend and now Portland. According to some calculations CAS gives up $23 million to the other schools, Business give up $9 million, and Journalism also is in a hole. Are these arrangements going to continue, or will more money go to CAS? From what I hear the new model will lock in the current subsidies. But since new tuition money will be allocated to where the students are, over 5 or 10 years the percent going to administrative bloat, and the extent of the cross-subsidies, will gradually decrease.

Importantly, this model will be applied at the college level – not at the department level. But obviously it will make it easier to think about allocation issues between departments as well, and it’s hard to imagine that won’t have some impact before long

One critical part of this plan is improved financial transparency. As I said, developing this plan has required the preparation of much more information than has previously been available about UO expenditures, and Shelton has been great about making it public, along with Kelly Wolf, and Laura Hubbard. But once the system is in place, the games will begin. Administrators will try to put their pet projects onto the instructional side. So it will be important for the ongoing expenditures to be transparent too.

As it happens, because of a motion Nathan Tublitz got through the Senate last year, the UO Senate Financial Transparency Working Group is developing a solution to this now, in collaboration with UO Controller Kelly Wolf. Soon any UO employee will be able to access transaction level details from UO’s accounting system, via a link on your duckweb page. So next time the administration decides to give one (or three) of their own $750,000 golden parachute buyouts, everyone will be able to see that the money comes from a fund that was established for retiring tenured teaching faculty. We still might not be able to do anything about it, but at least it will be common knowledge.

Bottom line, the administrators will keep their current loot. Music, Law and AAA will still be subsidized by CAS. But the sort of thing that Moseley is (still) doing with Bend will not happen again. And if UO continues to grow, over time more of the new tuition money will go to CAS for instructional purposes than has been true in the past.

UO invests its tuition money in (some) people

11/3/2011: “Bad Politics, Good Policy: The UO invests its tuition money in (some) people”

RG editorial on the summer UO raises. Love that subhead. So, it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the policy. And why should the RG go out on the limb for a UO administration that has been spending millions on administrative bloat, and then uses retention to justify raises for *retiring* administrators?

As a state institution, the University of Oregon blundered when it granted $5 million in pay raises to administrators and faculty earlier this year. As an increasingly independent institution exposed to the bracing winds of the free market, the UO made a smart move by investing tuition dollars in the people who have attracted record enrollments to the university.
The conflict between the UO’s traditional role as a box on the state government’s organization chart and its emerging status as a self-reliant and self-guiding institution is revealed in the details of the raises, contained in documents released to The Register-Guard in response to a public records request. The documents list “special equity raises” of $3.1 million for 743 faculty members and $1.8 million for 417 administrators. The faculty raises averaged 6.98 percent; administrators’ increases averaged 7.68 percent. …

Administrators gone wild

11/2/2011: Greg Bolt’s story 2 weeks ago in the RG gave the short version of the last 10 years of UO spending priorities: 26% more students, 9% more faculty, 36% more administrators.

Today Bolt has a detailed story about the recent UO raises. The short version? The money for the raises comes from all the new students the faculty are teaching. But nearly 40% of the $5 million in raises went to administrators. Apparently the next story will deal with the DPS budget, also now bloated with another million or so in new tuition money.

Today’s story includes lists of those faculty and administrators getting the largest raises. Fun reading. (And probably not completely accurate – though the table labels are now corrected.). A surprisingly large amount of the money went to a select group of administrators – or maybe not so surprising, given that those administrators make the rules:

In the documents, the UO listed special equity raises for 743 active faculty members and 417 administrators. Faculty received almost $3.1 million in total raises compared to almost $1.8 million for administrators.

Jim Bean is at the top. Dude just couldn’t keep his hand out of the cookie jar. Think how much easier this would have been if Lariviere could have said “Our top administrator believed this was so important for the faculty and the future of UO that he did not take an increase for himself.” Bolt discusses Lariviere’s report to Pernsteiner:

In that report, Lariviere said UO faculty pay was about 23 percent below the average for peer universities despite a decade-long effort to raise them. Following the equity raises, faculty pay was only about 3 percent below average, the report said.

But the average faculty raise was 7%. Explain that math again, Russ Tomlin? Then there’s this:

The report made a similar case for administrative raises, saying the UO was losing some of its best managers to other schools. But it did not say how far behind average administrator pay was before the raises nor how much of the gap was erased after them.

They don’t say that because the UO administrators were already at or above their comparators. Case in point, our new $270,000 a year CFO Jamie Moffit. The Chronicle database reports the median salary for CFO’s at doctoral institutions (for 2008-09) was $191,981. We top that by $78,000 for someone without a day of experience in the job?

UO is, of course, still a member of the prestigious AAU, but we have no Med school or engineering, and our budget is about 25% of most other public AAU’s. Go down the list of UO administrators and compare them to the Doctoral column from the Chronicle database:

RG on UO hiring: 26% more students, 9% more faculty, 36% more administrators.

10/23/2011: Very interesting RG story by Greg Bolt, on UO’s role in Lane County employment:

Employment at the UO has grown across the board, with increases seen in nearly every job category. The university has more teachers, professors, administrators, clerical staff, laborers and technicians today than it did before the recession began.
But the growth hasn’t been even across those categories. For example, the number of faculty members who are tenured or on the tenure track grew by 9 percent between 2001 and 2010, while the UO sharply ramped up hiring of nontenured faculty, increasing it by 32.5 percent. …
The UO also has hired more administrators, whose ranks grew 36 percent over the past 10 years. Over the same time, the number of classified employees — front-line workers in clerical, technical and maintenance jobs — grew 22 percent and enrollment 26 percent.
The growth in administrative jobs has drawn criticism, from front-line classified workers and faculty who think the UO has bloated its managerial ranks at the expense of other needs. But Penny Daugherty, the UO’s affirmative action director who also coordinates non-classified hiring, said it’s more a matter of catching up. …

Enrollment up 26%, TT faculty up 9%, and administrators up 36%.

And Penny Daugherty is now the highest level UO administrator who will publicly comment on administrative bloat. That is what Harry Truman would call passing the buck, President Lariviere.

A research university or a teaching college?

9/24/2011: This graph from UO’s latest report to OUS on our “academic plan” certainly raises the question. See this earlier post for background.

Since 2001 undergraduate enrollment has increased 36%, graduate enrollment by less than 10%, and the number of tenure track faculty by less than 10%.


Here’s the data on the number of tenure track faculty – pretty flat with a recent small uptick. Here’s the data on enrollment. We have 24,300 this year.

 To the left is the number of students (fall enrollments) per tenure track faculty. For 2011, it will be ~35.

And here’s the latest IPEDS data on where the money is going, from the Delta Project. 2009 means the 2009-2010 academic year, President Lariviere’s first year in charge. 1.3% increase in instructional spending and a 9.3% increase on institutional support – meaning central administrative costs, aka Johnson Hall.

From their data dictionary: “General administrative services, executive management, legal and fiscal operations, public relations and central operations for physical operation.” I wonder what the 2010-2011 data will look like?
The good news is that the faculty did well getting grants – research spending was up 8.2% over 2008. Go here for background and sources. Revenue? Tuition up, state support down. (Auxiliary services means dorms, food service, parking.)