Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not breaking news: There are too many administrators

Dr. Jekyll:  I realize some of you do not like the posting of links.  Further, I realize the research discussed in the article isn't very surprising.  Finally, you will need a subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education to access this (alternatively, the article is on page A30 of the November 9th print edition).

Prof. Hyde:  Here's the flava (as the kids would say).  There are too many administrators.  The ideal faculty:administrator ratio is 3:1.  The ratio as of 2008 is 0.56:1. 

Dr. Jekyll:  Time for another drink of my special potion!


  1. Why not just give me an invite to a party that I can see a bit of through the window?

    I'm not a Chronicle subscriber, and don't intend to start now. I'm sure the article is great. I'll never know.

  2. I appeared to be able to access the article, and I do not have a subscription. My computer does look like it comes from a school, though.

  3. Working from the information above (because I'm not on campus today and am too lazy to go through my library's portal to access our institutional subscription), I'd say that the other, possibly related, problem is that too many of the administrators are now career administrators, rather than people who rose from the faculty ranks, and may eventually return to them (willingly, no less). There may be a place for a few career administrators with very particular expertise (e.g. dealing with assessment, accreditation, etc.), but they need to work closely with faculty; in fact, I'd prefer to see them limited to support roles (i.e. administrative assistant or vice- or assistant- whatever, but not eligible to rise to the top role without a decade or so of teaching/departmental experience. That power/reward system shift alone would, I suspect, solve quite a few problems, and help realign some priorities).

    Also, although I know some very smart, very able people who hold the Ed.D. (usually because it was the most affordable/efficient way for them to earn the "big D" credential they needed to continue doing the teaching/local administrative work they were already doing well), I am, in general, suspicious of the degree, and very suspicious of the idea that one can major at any level in "higher education." I'm all for more pedagogical training -- and perhaps even offering one or two bigger picture/administration-focused classes, or at least the possibility of earning credit toward the degree through cross-registration in some relevant classes in psych, soc, economics, government, and the like, taught at a rigorous but accessible at-least-MA level -- as part of Ph.D. programs, but that's a very different animal.

    Finally, since the article is talking about the ratio between tenure-track faculty and administrators, I'm wondering whether the problem is even worse than it appears because of the growing numbers of contingent faculty, and in fact may be being made worse by that trend. As proportionately fewer TT faculty have to cover the usual department-level administrative work, plus the burdens of supervising, evaluating, etc. contingent faculty (who don't generally do service), I suspect that full-time administrators are doing some things that faculty doing service traditionally did (plus dealing with all the small administrative details associated with supporting a constantly-churning army of adjuncts; does anybody ever count the costs of that?).

    1. Most of them are worthless outsiders from Cubicleland, Banksville, and Legalfuckerton.

      Deport them back where they belong, or let me hunt them for sport.

  4. Yeah, I don't get the idea of posting a link to a story that many of us probably can't read. Can you not copy it at least to the page? Does anyone know how much a Chronicle subscription is? It's $72.50 a year. When I can already read most of it for free, and I have about $500 a year in other journal expenses, it seems outlandish.

  5. Your university or college library probably subscribes to the electronic version through one of the online journal conglomerates.