update: Jim Bean v. Howard Bunsis

2/26/2011: Rachel Bachman has a piece in the Oregonian today on UO’s athletic budget: also up 60% since 2005.

2/25/2011: UO’s top administrators love to listen to themselves tell the faculty that it’s not “us versus you” and that we are all working together to improve teaching and research at UO. That’s what they say. Here’s what they do:

That’s from the union organizers website, which is getting more and more quantitative. I like. Or do you want to listen to our very confused Provost explain how he thinks we only spend 38% of what our peers do on administration?

President, Governor on student spas and administrative bloat

9/28/2010: President Obama that is:

In a conference call with student journalists on Monday, President Obama renewed his calls for reining in college costs, saying that every institution should provide a chart showing how each tuition dollar is spent. He also questioned the need for expensive amenities. “You’re not going to a university to join a spa,” he told the students. The president said improving the economy—to help shore up state budgets—is crucial to improving affordability, but he argued that colleges need to be mindful of teaching loads as well. Colleges should “give professors the opportunity to engage in work outside the classroom that advances knowledge,” he said, “but at the same time reminding faculties that their primary job is to teach.” (From Chronicle.com)

Does this mean he supports Grassley’s plan to eliminate the tax subsidies for giving to athletic programs? Meanwhile the Governor of Indiana comments on administrative bloat, in the Indy-Star:

Gov. Mitch Daniels told a large group of college trustees Monday that the days of top-heavy campuses — where administrators get the biggest slice of the budget pie — must come to an end. … Citing studies that show spending on administrator salaries, office space and nonteaching supplies outpaced spending for instructional costs, Daniels said “that is a lopsided way to deliver resources.” …  Daniels cited a national study released a few weeks ago by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. It found the number of full-time administrators for every 100 students at 189 top U.S. universities had increased by 39 percent from 1993 to 2007.

UO’s administrative spending was 96% of the average in 2008 – before all the recent hires. Our research spending was 63%.

96% bloat and rising?

8/17/2010: We’ve reported before on the fact that UO spends 96% of the public research university average on Central Administration, versus only 63% on research. Insidehighered.com discusses several studies of the general trend:

“Administrative bloat” is the cause of rising costs in American higher education, according to a report being released today by the Goldwater Institute, a think tank that advocates for a limited government role. The report cites federal data finding a significantly larger percentage increase in full-time administrators per 100 students at leading universities than of faculty jobs. Based on this finding, the report suggests that reducing government spending on higher education would make higher education “more efficient.” The report is not the first to draw attention to the growth in college spending on areas other than instruction, but college leaders who have seen the Goldwater study are questioning its methodology. Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, told The Phoenix Business Journal that the study counts all non-faculty professionals as administrators, including many positions — such as librarians — that relate directly to universities’ teaching and research missions. As a result, he said that the report’s suggestion that administrative spending was the cause of colleges’ growing costs was “simplistic.”

Note that the 96% number we cite for UO, from the Delta Project, does not include librarians etc. No time to dig up more numbers now, but my impression is that UO has seen a pretty big increase in the number of VP’s and assorted support staff in recent years. The VP for Diversity’s office alone has a $900,000 budget. Meanwhile President Eldon Floyd at WSU announces *cuts* in the number of his VPs: 

The Office of Enrollment Management and the Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity will be combined into the Office of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity, and Enrollment Management. The Student Recreation Center, Housing and Dining Services, and the Compton Union Building will be added to this division for administrative purposes. With this change, all of the programs and services for our students will be centrally managed and supported. This unit will be led by John Fraire.

Our UO numbers are from 2007-08. I’m guessing with recent growth we are probably already spending more than 100% of the average on central administration. Anyone got details?

Administrative Bloat, Academic Diet

7/26/2010: A commenter points us to “The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability” and their online database of the federally required reports to IPEDS. Here’s one quick cut:

UO’s spending per student FTE compared to Carnegie Public Research university averages, for 2008. (See below for category definitions from IPEDS.):

  • $2,347 on Institutional support, aka Central administration. General administrative services, executive management, legal and fiscal operations, public relations and central operations for physical operation. 96% of the average
  • $8,850 on Instruction. Faculty salaries, academic departments: 91% of the average
  • $1,937 on Academic support. Libraries, academic computing, Dean’s Ofc: 70% of the average
  • $3,521 on Research. External grants and internal research support: 63% of the average

This is 2008 – before all of the increases in central administration that Linda Brady and Frances Dyke made kicked in. Yet some UO administrators still stick to the claim that UO’s administrative expenses are 38% of our peers? I would like to hope that is just for public consumption, not what is actually guiding their decision-making.

But looking at the new round of administrative hiring they are implementing, I am afraid they actually believe it. The President’s office budget has grown by $1.2 million since 2008. Frances Dyke’s has gone from $3.0 million to $5.2 million. (From the Financial Transparency Reports on Duckweb. Those reports are hard to decipher, I would not assume these numbers are completely accurate, but the trend certainly is.)

Definitions of standard expense categories:

  • Instruction: Activities directly related to instruction, including faculty salaries and benefits, office supplies, administration of academic departments, and the proportion of faculty salaries going to departmental research and public service.
  • Research: Sponsored or organized research, including research centers and project research. These costs are typically budgeted separately from other institutional spending, through special revenues restricted to these purposes.
  • Public service: Activities established to provide noninstructional services to external groups. These costs are also budgeted separately and include conferences, reference bureaus, cooperative extension services and public broadcasting.
  • Student services: Noninstructional, student-related activities such as admissions, registrar services, career counseling, financial aid administration, student organi- zations and intramural athletics. Costs of recruitment, for instance, are typically embedded within student services.
  • Academic support: Activities that support instruction, research and public service, including libraries, academic computing, museums, central academic administration (dean’s offices), and central personnel for curriculum and course development.
  • Institutional support: General administrative services, executive management, legal and fiscal operations, public relations and central operations for physical operation.
  • Scholarships and fellowships net of allowances: Institutional spending on scholarships and fellowships net of allowances does not include federal aid, tuition waivers or tuition discounts (which since 1998 have been reported as waivers); it is a residual that captures any remaining aid after it is applied to tuition and auxiliaries.
  • Plant operation and maintenance: Service and maintenance of the physical plant, grounds and buildings maintenance, utilities, property insurance and similar items. For private institutions only, capital depreciation costs were excluded prior to 1998, so recent trend data are not strictly comparable with data from that period.
  • Auxiliary enterprises and hospitals and clinics: User-fee activities that do not receive general support. Auxiliary enterprises include dormitories, bookstores and meal services.

And keep in mind there is a whole layer of OUS administration on top of this. Very roughly, the Chancellor’s office added another $236 or 10% per FTE in administrative expenses to the UO total. (Dividing their $17 million in 2008 expenditures by 72,000 FTE’s for the whole system.) I don’t know what comparable calculations would add to the Carnegie average – most states have some sort of Chancellor set up, I don’t know how their costs compare. For that matter I don’t really know if OUS spent $17 million, their report is hard to follow, and I’m no accountant.

    first derivative of bloat wrst time

    9/10/2009: The Institutional Research web site at http:/ir.uoregon.edu is a clean, well lit and informative place. One curious UO Matters reader has been digging around there and reports on recent trends in administrative growth. Note that the most recent numbers are 2007, and are head counts – not dollars. Most insiders believe that spending on administration, and salaries, really took off in 2008, during former Provost Linda Brady’s second year. We hope Provost Bean reads these reports – from his public statements, he either has no clue about what is going on with UO’s administrative costs, or he is lying about them.

    A few interesting numbers from UO IR (http://ir.uoregon.edu/ir_files/EmplHC.pdf) If I’m reading this right, during the ten years from 1997-2007 total full and part-time teaching faculty increased 21% (adding about 300 bodies). During the same period the number of full- and part-time Management Services and Officers of Administration went up almost 40% (it was more than 40% for full-time positions) — also increasing about 300.

    By this yardstick it looks like we’re adding administrators about twice as fast as teachers. That doesn’t count, of course, classified staff hired to support the administrators. We’ll save that for another day.

    Over the same period, enrollment rose just over 18%. (http://ir.uoregon.edu/ir_files/enr.pdf). So another way of looking at it is that we’re hiring administrators at twice the rate of enrollment increase.

    Administrative Salaries Drive Rise in Higher Education Price Index

    9/9/2009: From the Chronicle:

    The cost of goods, services, pay, and benefits in higher education rose 2.3 percent for the year ending June 30—a figure that is nearly a percentage point higher than the Consumer Price Index for the same period but less than half the 5-percent rate that colleges experienced in the 2008-9 academic year.

    The Commonfund Institute, which calculates the annual Higher Education Price Index figure and released it on Wednesday, said administrative salaries and fringe-benefit costs showed the biggest increases.

    Not here at UO, of course, where Provost Bean still apparently will not back down on his claim that UO’s administrative expenses are 38% of our peers. Our 15.9% tuition increase had nothing to do with the $305,000 we pay Bean, or the $295,000 we pay President Emeritus Frohnmayer for teaching 20 students, or the $125,000 we still pay former Provost Moseley 4 years after he supposedly resigned, or the …

    Bloated administration

    8/18/2009: The North Carolina News and Observer has a story about administrative bloat in the NC college system.

    This decade has been good for associate vice chancellors at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their numbers have nearly doubled, from 10 to 19, and the money paid to them has more than tripled, to a total of nearly $4 million a year.

    The university now admits that some of these people were in jobs that were not vital. They represent the rapid management growth in the 16-campus UNC system that has added tens of millions of dollars to annual payrolls.

    Now, with a tough economy and sinking tax revenues, UNC officials and state lawmakers say these jobs need cutting first.

    Oregon needs similar reporting on OUS – as it is, our Provost is still claiming UO’s administrative expenses are 38% of our peers – something he knows is completely false.

    A few days ago we got a knowledgeable comment on our claim that the number of senior administrators was increasing. It said we were exaggerating: “this sure looks like a one-for-one replacement, distracting us from the more serious issues of the huge growth in Associate VPs, support staff, and so on.” We still think the number of senior admins has increased: We’ve added or will add VP for Diversity Martinez, and a VP for budgeting, and old VP’s Moseley, Davis, and Williams are still paid 1/2 time. But point taken otherwise.

    Another reader then pointed us to UO’s institutional research site, here. It turns out there’s a lot of data on admin expenses. Still digesting, but the commentor seems correct that there has been big growth recently, much bigger than what has gone to the instructional side. More evidence as well that Provost Bean’s frequently reported 38% claim is bogus even according to the official UO data – which he presumably takes a look at every now and then!

    The Commentor writes back: Yes, I have known about the IR site for years and often go there to get the actual facts – not that having real facts actually does any good around here. People hear only what they want to hear – helluva of a way to plan. In any event. To me one of the most striking features of the raw data, and one which most faculty and adminstrators don’t realize is true is that the actual number of tenure and tenure-track faculty has been essentially constant (631 +/- 17) over the last 15 years. Thus despite claims of “new programs” and more favorable faculty to student ratios, the plain truth as that has been no growth in these kind of faculty positions for the past 15 years. That defines institutional stagnation.

    UO’s administrative expenses 38% of peers? Not true.

    At the furlough meeting Provost Bean told us that UO’s administrative expense ratio was 38% of peers. See his reply to the question at 50:20 in the video. This number was repeated in Greg Bolt’s RG story about the meeting. This issue matters because the admin need to have some justification for asking the faculty and staff to take cuts when administrators are making such small sacrifices themselves. It turned out that Bean did not actually have a copy of the study from which he quoted, but simply remembered hearing the number somewhere. A group of curious faculty got on the question, and with the help of a local reporter tracked down the source, on page 38 of this document:


    The data on the page does not even remotely support Provost Bean’s 38% claim – for example, it compares the total administration and *facilities* costs of schools. Further, each of the comparators has a med school, engineering school, etc. All have, for example, at least one nuclear reactor. The cost of operating those reactors – think fuel rods – is included in the number Bean was using to argue that UO’s costs for *administrators* are relatively low. Unless UO is now fielding nuclear powered Vice Provosts, (heads up guys: notify the UN inspectors first) we can dismiss this 38% number as a convenient fiction, designed to justify asking faculty to make sacrifices that administrators will not make themselves. I have asked Provost Bean to issue a formal retraction.

    Next up, his claim that we are making money in Bend. He has promised to make a complete accounting report. Meaning that he made the Bend claim without actually understanding those numbers either. UPDATE: Those numbers were made up too.