Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is the modern university a jobs program for administrators who teach students on the side?

The former head of GM once said words to the effect that he ran a health insurance/pension funding company that also makes cars. Unfortunately it’s a business model that is being replicated by higher education. The staggering cost of higher ed in the US has become a large part of the financial plight of the middle class as it strives to raise a family. It turns out graduates that can’t find a decent job (a recent engineering grad served me dinner recently) while either impoverishing his family or saddling him with thousands in student loans.

And where is that money going? Administrative overhead.

At the University of California, a leader in all things perverted
There now are nearly as many senior managers (8,144) as tenured and tenure-track faculty (8,521). As recently as 1993, the ratio between these groups was much different — 2,429 to 6,846.

Put another way, 18 years ago the student-to-upper management ratio was 62-to-1. Now it's all the way down to 2-to-1. The ratio of students to regular faculty, meanwhile, has risen from 22-to-1 in 1993 to 26-to-1.

...Many do real work in IT and other fields to support teaching and research. But the modern university is full of well-compensated people who, if they have any contact at all with traditional academics, only get in the way. They're tasked with promoting social change under labels like "diversity," "equity" and "inclusion."

UPDATE: Robert Wiessberg on UW - Madison's problem:
I’d guess that employing more black and Hispanic administrators is far easier than hiring minority professors. This is all about jobs. The University’s website lists the African American Student Academic Services, American Indian Student Academic Services, Chicano/a Student Academic Services, a Multicultural Student Center, and various multicultural student organizations. A separate Academic Advancement Program (AAP) exists to assist “underrepresented students” and for four years helps “…create an inclusive campus climate where all members of the campus community feel valued, respected, and free to participate and achieve their highest academic and professional potential.” AAP “…focuses on academic advising, academic instructional support, academic engagement and enrichment, and community building, which are the four pillars of our program.” The AAP is not, however, to be confused with the Center for Educational Opportunity that works with over 600 students to upgrade their skills and mentors them. And don’t forget the Office of Equity and Diversity targeting underrepresented groups to achieve social justice. And for students struggling with certain subjects, I counted an additional six separate tutoring services.

This is only a sampling and omits what occurs in the admissions office and in feel-good courses on identity politics. One can only wonder how many educationally useless hours were spent crafting the Orwellian mission statements, progress reports and schemes to create yet more bureaucracy.

No comments: