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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.


  1. Anonymous 11/16/2012

    Pretty easy to use that sensationalist number of 230,000 to serve your purposes here. If you actually look at the NCES report and look at 4 Year Public Universities you find the following:
    In 1989 the number of Executive and Managerial employees at Public 4 year Universities was 64,343 and in 2009 it was 84,355, an increase of 23.72%. If you look at faculty for the same category of institution the number in 1989 was 350,720 and in 2009 was 539,901, an increase of 35.03%. Now I am not saying that the ratios at the U of O are different, but you can’t throw the “Administrative Bloat” blanket over everything.

    Part of the issue in really getting into these numbers here in Oregon is that the University system lists everyone who is not classified or faculty as an “administrator” even though they don’t fall into the category that NCES used for the 230,000 number. Don’t believe me? In the HR systems across the state employees are coded as faculty, classified and administrators.

    There isn’t a distinction built in as in the NCES report that breaks them out into Executive and Managerial and then as Other Professionals. The “Other Professionals” are your folks that aren’t classified but aren’t executive or managerial. OUS does not have that distinction in the “administrator” category in its own data. The Universities simply do not enter the employees in Banner in that way.

    The point is that this 230,000 number is being used in a sensationalist manner to spin a story a certain way when the truth lies somewhere in between. It may be true on the U of O campus that there is administrative bloat. You’d have to compare the real numbers. I know on some campuses in the system it certainly is not true and administrative employee numbers have dropped compared to faculty and other staff over the last 10 or so years.

    When parents and students complain about tuition being so high I think they also need to examine themselves and remember all of the services they demand beyond faculty. They want their own advisor, they want awesome housing with a fancy dining experience. They want a rec center that is open all hours, they want a center for this and a center for that. They want a student activities department. They want mental health counselors and a health center and a tutoring center. Never mind the expansion of federal regulations like ADA that have made virtually every student condition a disability. All of those things cost money and they bring with them managerial and other staff that cost money.

    I’ll leave it to someone else to decide if the U of O has too many VPs or Associate VPs or Directors, however, I know that the NCES number cited by Bloomberg and re-published by the RG doesn’t tell the whole story.

    • Anonymous 11/17/2012

      There are many good points above. However, blame on the ADA for the rising costs of education is misplaced. The reason there are costs associated with accommodating individuals with disabilities is often because the University didn’t consider the needs of those with disabilities to begin with. For example, needing to build a new ramp into a building instead of just designing all of its buildings with ramps when they were originally constructed. If the University were built and run with the needs of those with disabilities in mind, it’s doubtful we would need to spend money on specialized staff or building alterations. It’s certainly true that because this has not always been the case these things can have costs, but the finger of blame should not be pointed at the individuals who just want to get to class and learn like anyone else, or the regulations that protect them.

  2. Anonymous 11/16/2012

    Ok I am the one who left the earlier long winded comment. Let me say the chart you added really illustrates the problem in getting good data from the OUS systems and “Administrators” as listed in the NCES report. You notice that there aren’t separate categories for “Executive and Managerial” and “Other Professionals” in the U of O data. That “Administrator” number you are railing against includes essentially every staff member that is not classified. It includes people like academic advisors, etc. It’s not a true measure of how much “administrative bloat” you really have. Some of those employee groups lumped in there could have legitimately increased along with enrollment. It is nearly impossible to tell unless you can break that number into categories like the NCES report.

    • UO Matters 11/16/2012

      This is all sensible, are there better data?

  3. Anonymous 11/16/2012

    There may not be better data unfortunately. As I said, the system does not differentiate in Banner between Executives and Upper Administration and those who are not classified but may not rise to the level of what one would consider an “Administrator.” One would have to ask the HR office and I can see how much fun you have getting information.

  4. Old Man 11/16/2012

    Historical note: here was a time at UO when Administrators were, in fact, University Administrators, and many of those now classifed as OA’s were Civil Servants. When the Civil Servants union threatened a strike, the “real administrators” decreed that any Civil Servant who oversaw the work of another Civil Servant was, thereby, forbidden to be part of that union. They were retitled “Office Managers”. At the onset of Dave Frohnmayer’s regime, the Office Manager category was eliminated, and those folks were assigned to the OA category along with the Provost et al. At rhe same time, the composition of the Assembly was altered to include ALL OA’s. Go figure.

    • Old Man 11/16/2012

      PS: The DoJ later opined that UO governance violated the UO Charter,thereby providing the impetus for writing the current Constitution, in which the Assembly is composed of only teaching faculty (ie, TTFs and NTTFs).

    • UO Matters 11/16/2012

      Thanks, Oldster. Any news on getting Gottfredson to sign the constitution? What’s his sticking point – or won’t Geller tell us?

    • Old Man 11/16/2012

      Current State Board Policy 3.105 (8) says: “The statement of internal governance is subject to review and amendment when a new institution president assumes office or at other such times provided for in the internal governance statement. Any amendment to the statement of internal governance will be subject to ratification by the relevant institutional body or bodies and the institution president.”
      I’m no lawyer, but the implication of the Policy looks clear to me — shared governance can proceed under the Constitution as it exists today. No presidential signature is needed to activate it. Mike may, if and when he wishes, call for review and amendment, but the Faculty can decline to ratify amendments it does not like.
      The UO Constitution defines the requirements for amendment as:: “9.3.2 A change in the Constitution requires that the number of ayes exceed one third of the Statutory Faculty membership and be greater than the number of nays, and that the University President ratify the change.”

    • Old Man 11/17/2012

      PS: My closest advisor says the meaning of the Policy is clear: The UO Constitution belongs to the University in the same way the US constitution belongs to the USA.

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