Monday, July 25, 2011

Michigan: More Administrators Than Faculty

The Chronicle of Higher Education released a report today "Great Colleges to Work for 2011" based on responses from nearly 44,000 people at 310 institutions. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor made the list, and its profile included the institutional details displayed in the chart above: 9,652 full-time administrators and professionals vs. 6,305 full-time faculty and 1,260 part-time faculty.  In other words, there are 53% more full-time administrators than full-time faculty.  Is this evidence of "administrative blight?"   

Note: The data above from the Chronicle of Higher Education was preliminary. The final 2011 numbers reduced the "Administrators" category from 2,415 to 1,893. The final numbers also reduced "Exempt Professionals," a category that includes all exempt employees in instruction, research and student support, from 7,237 to 4,915. The accurate comparison of administrators to full-time faculty is not 9,652 administrators divided by 6,305 full-time faculty: 153%, but rather 6,808 administrators divided by 6,305 full-time faculty: 108%.

24 Comments:

At 7/25/2011 10:56 AM, Blogger geoih said...

These numbers probably include the university hospital, most of which are considered professional/administrative.

 
At 7/25/2011 10:57 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

As far as I can tell, every non-profit organization bloats and ossifies at the top.
Federal civilian and military agencies, and your local YMCA. Just seems to happen. No market forces to wipe out the coprolite.

 
At 7/25/2011 12:11 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Is the University successfully fulfilling its mission statement using objective measurables with that employee ratio? If so, there's nothing wrong. If not, they need to change their strategies. Of course, you might not agree with the mission statement, but that's a whole other problem.

 
At 7/25/2011 2:36 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Hey, former Weathermen/SDS/friends of Obama got to earn a living too!

 
At 7/25/2011 2:38 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

Is this evidence that school choice does not in fact reduce costs all that much as is often argued? Why would a competitive environment of college choice lead to such numbers of administrators unless there was some sort of competitive advantage of doing so?

 
At 7/25/2011 3:15 PM, Blogger MaggotAtBroad&Wall said...

Corinthian College is a for-profit, secondary education company. Just for fun, I looked at it's most recent 10-K and found this sentence, "Faculty represents approximately 35% of our employees." See the copy and paste from the 10-K, below:

"As of June 30, 2010, we had approximately 15,900 employees in the U.S. and Canada, of whom approximately 4,400 were part-time and approximately 900 were employed at or assigned to our campus support center."


"As of June 30, 2010, we employed approximately 5,600 faculty in the United States and Canada, approximately 1,840 of whom were full-time employees. Faculty represents approximately 35% of our employees."

http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1066134/000119312510194326/d10k.htm#tx35612_7

 
At 7/25/2011 3:43 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I find it amusing that an article about Borders and Amazon is directly below this one. Look for the administrator to full-time faculty ratio to increase even more in favor of administration at a faster rate in the future than it is now. Everything will change in the 21st century.

The role of the career content expert is diminishing as the educational delivery model embraces technology and higher education moves to more part-time instructors and K-12 education moves to charter schools. In fact, I am choosing the textbooks, writing the curriculum, and designing the electronic classroom which includes an automatic gradebook today as an administrator for future part-time online instructors.

Those same instructors will be getting training from an administrator to teach the class on-line after an administrator recruits the students, an administrator finds the financial aid, and an administrator collects the tuition and fees. After the class, an administrator will register the grades and an IT administrator will distribute the grades electronically. When the student complains about the grade, which happens a lot, an administrator will facilitate between the instructor and the students and ultimately make a decision that can be appealed to yet another administrator.

To make sure no group is left out of going to college whether they should be there or not, a whole department of administrators will monitor regulatory and court compliance to any affirmative action programs.

Yes, Borders and universities have a lot in common. Either adapt or die.

 
At 7/25/2011 4:57 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> Is the University successfully fulfilling its mission statement using objective measurables with that employee ratio? If so, there's nothing wrong.

So, if its "Mission Statement" was "Waste as much money as possible", you'd think everything hunky-dory, Walt?

"Mission statements" are written by the same coprolites (hadn't used that word in a while, Benjamin!) who are part of the question.

If you are under the impression that they will write a "Mission Statement" that says "Accomplish more with less", well, I have a GREAT deal on some LAND. Guaranteed 500% return in only SIX MONTHS. Guaranteed! What have you got to lose?? Msg me. ;-D

I'm not commenting here on Dr. Perry's numbers -- just on your justification for them -- Valid "Mission Statements" are for noob organizations building up from scratch with no idea of their goals, and a need to define them.

They are not for entrenched bureaucracies with no actual serious modification of their primary goals perceived as needed (The ARE needed by organizations seeking to re-invent themselves, such as, say, the "Fleebin Buggy-Whip Factory").

In the latter case, such things are rationalizations for doing what admins have already decided they want to do with the funding available and the funding they wish to obtain. No actual legitimate function for the MS exists except self-justification.

 
At 7/25/2011 5:35 PM, Blogger Jason said...

President James Angell is rolling over in his grave.

 
At 7/25/2011 5:45 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

oBloodyHell,

You are assuming that administrators are not adding value to the students' education without any proof. If they are not adding value, that needs to be shown with evidence of some type. I don't think a ratio measurement over time is that proof because too much has changed too fast in educational delivery methodology.

We want to get rid of tenure and measure teachers' teaching ability. If there is an objective way to do that, administrators can be equally measured. There is a good reason the bandwagon fallacy is a fallacy.

You can design a car to do 100-miles-per-hour. If it does that, it is not unsuccessful because it does not do 125-miles-per hour even though that is possible. Many things can be designed and measured. Even, and especially, entrenched organizations need to figure out what they are supposed to do and whether or not they are doing it, and that’s where the mission statement comes into play. If someone is not meeting the standard, that needs to be addressed. If the standard is not high enough, that needs to be addressed, too.

So, if its "Mission Statement" was "Waste as much money as possible", you'd think everything hunky-dory, Walt?

Yes. A doctor who successfully executes a prisoner is successful because that is what he or she is supposed to do, but usually doctors who kill their patients are thought of as a failure. I would find a problem with your mission statement, but you would be meeting your goal if your outcome measurement said you wasted the planned amount of money. If you wasted too much money, or possibly not enough (if that’s not acceptable), you might need to change your strategies.

 
At 7/25/2011 7:09 PM, Blogger al fin said...

Of course they are adding a lot of diversity and political correctness training to the student's experience. Sheep must be led, after all.

 
At 7/25/2011 9:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"You are assuming that administrators are not adding value to the students' education without any proof. If they are not adding value, that needs to be shown with evidence of some type. "

I think it's the other way around. If additional administrators are needed, the additional expense needs to be justified. They must produce more benefit or cost savings than their additional cost.

 
At 7/25/2011 9:08 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

OBH: - "So, if its "Mission Statement" was "Waste as much money as possible", you'd think everything hunky-dory, Walt?"

Walt G. - "Yes."

What more do you need to know?

I think that tells you everything about Walt's position.

 
At 7/26/2011 6:12 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.

People don't always get to agree about what other people are trying to accomplish. If you want to steer a better direction, you need to join in and help out. I deal with a lot of people who complain every day, but they don’t want to get involved and help make the changes they demand. You also provide an excellent example of quoting someone out of context.

Ron H.:They must produce more benefit or cost savings than their additional cost.

How do you know they are not? In 1985, I lectured by myself in a class room. This summer the college videotaped a series of my classroom lectures. It took a lighting crew, a sound crew, and two cameramen to do the job. After the taping, an editor prepared a written transcript and prepped it for the college Website. A Webmaster posted it while a 24/7 IT crew makes sure it is always available to all my students including a soldier who is serving in Afghanistan who only has four hours of computer access per week.

Educational delivery methodologies and business models change, so you can’t assume you can track faculty to administrator ratios over time as an indication of anything. My opinion and experience shows me that we can look for many fewer full-time college professors/instructors in the future. I will stay with my Borders and Amazon comparison until I see something that changes my mind.

 
At 7/26/2011 12:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G.

"You also provide an excellent example of quoting someone out of context."

I didn't quote you out of context, your answer was "Yes". The rest of your comment was an attempt to explain and support that answer, which didn't change that YES to something else, it remained "Yes".

"How do you know they are not? "

I don't. Do you? Is the cost of your class much less per student now, than it was in 1985? That would be the justification for the additional people.

In fact, since the class is now canned, there is no longer a need to pay you to present it. It should be much cheaper.

Is the cost of education at your school much cheaper, overall, than it was in 1985? If so, the additional admin and tech people are justified.

Since the cost of education everywhere seems to be increasing faster than most other goods and services, and the only clear correlation seems to be an increase in the number of none teaching employees, you can understand why people question their value.

 
At 7/26/2011 1:19 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

The answer and explanation go together. That's the context. What do you think context literally means?

How the product is delivered and by whom in 1985 and 2011 are not the same, so you can't compare them using the rate of increase over time. That's my point. I believe content experts will dwindle even further in the future.

Non-teaching does not mean non-value added. Technology like this blog did not exist in 1985 and very little of what it takes to maintain its structure in educational delivery comes from faculty. There are lots of these types of technology in 2011 in education.

In Michigan, the huge cost increase to the student is largely from the state reducing funding. I don't know about your state.

I am always a bit leery of negative labels in articles such as "administrative blight" or "corporate greed" because they play to the bandwagon group who look for easy villains instead of difficult solutions.

 
At 7/26/2011 1:19 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/27/2011 12:46 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G.

Somehow you have managed to respond to something different than every point I made in my previous comment. It must be a special talent.

Can you understand that the "product" must either get better or cheaper than it was in the past to justify the cost of additional resources?

"How the product is delivered and by whom in 1985 and 2011 are not the same, so you can't compare them using the rate of increase over time."

Increase of what? An econ 101 class in 2011 should be much the same as an econ 101 class in 1985, no matter how it's delivered, or how many people are involved in delivering it. The subject hasn't changed.

I would expect "value added" to make the class much cheaper now. If it is, then the value added is truly value added. If not, then the additional people and technology should not be employed.

"In Michigan, the huge cost increase to the student is largely from the state reducing funding. I don't know about your state."

Nice strawman. A more recent post by Prof. Perry indicates that the cost of education has doubled in the last ten years, and that the cost is increasing at twice the rate of CPI. What can account for that increase?

Most products become better and cheaper as technology and innovation are applied under the pressure of competition. Why is that not true of education?

Are addition administrators causing increased cost? If so, their value is negative.

 
At 7/27/2011 11:30 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.

Nice insights--mostly.

Tuition going up does not mean the net cost to the student went up by the same amount. The Higher Education Act Website shows Michigan -7% in 2008-2009 in state aid and +6% in tuition increase. What does that mean? It looks as if the college lost 1% in revenue to me. Additionally, many students do not pay full tuition and fees.

If adminstration headcount goes up and they do some of the duties of prior faculty whose headcount is declining, the cost has been shifted to them. Are the increases in administration a net cost shift or increase?

I am not saying that college administration is not adding to the cost of higher education. I am saying that costs/benefits can be complicated and often people look for simple answers or scapegoats where there are none.

From what I see and know from the inside, I expect a further decline in full-time faculty headcount as part-timers take over and full-time and contract administration assumes many of their former duties. I am not making a judgement call on whether that is good or bad for the students.

 
At 7/27/2011 12:58 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G.

"Tuition going up does not mean the net cost to the student went up by the same amount"

Aren't you out of straw yet?

"If adminstration headcount goes up and they do some of the duties of prior faculty whose headcount is declining, the cost has been shifted to them. Are the increases in administration a net cost shift or increase?"

Look, let me try an analogy, but I suspect you still have a good supply of straw, so I'm not optimistic about getting a straight answer:

If a law firm grows to service more clients, and hires more office staff and paralegals to do some of the less valuable work previously done by attorneys, I would expect the firm's costs to go down, as each hour of attorney work becomes more efficient. Due to competition, I would expect the prices they charge to go down.

Any other result would indicate that something other than basic market forces are at work.

Wouldn't you expect those same basics to apply in the education business?

If adding labor in the form of more administrators doesn't reduce the cost of education and therefore the price, then there is something other than market forces at work, and customers are right to complain.

 
At 7/27/2011 1:56 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.:

Your assumption below is wrong:

"Any other result would indicate that something other than basic market forces are at work."

Higher education does not operate using market forces any more than health care does. Student loans are taking the place of health care insurance and insulating the buyer from the true cost (at least temporarily). So willingness to pay becomes ability to pay when it really is not.

The customers'/students' complaint should take the form of refusing to buy the product; they don't, so the price goes up because it can. Those at the top take their cut because they can. Those at the top hire friends and put them in the office next to theirs because they can.

The move to part-time and contract employees is a common business model now, so there is no reason to believe higher education will not follow the same path. I'm just waiting to see when Amazon starts providing fully accredited online college degrees. Maybe they will even provide "free" textbooks to lure you in.

 
At 7/27/2011 6:39 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

No, Walt, my assumption isn't wrong, in fact you went on to explain why it is, in fact, correct.

"Higher education does not operate using market forces any more than health care does."

That's absolutely correct. Heavy government involvement and interference in both of these markets has hidden the price signals, and allowed the ever rising costs we experience. A free , competitive market would result in ever lower prices, as our experience with other goods and services tells us they should.

State support, Pell grants, student loans, and an array of other financial aids hide the true cost of education.

"The customers'/students' complaint should take the form of refusing to buy the product; they don't, so the price goes up because it can. Those at the top take their cut because they can. Those at the top hire friends and put them in the office next to theirs because they can."

That's correct. Lack of competition due to lack of proper price signals, means customers can't influence prices by voting with their dollars.

So, based on your comment, I see you agree that the increase in admin personnel may not be a good thing for education customers.

 
At 7/28/2011 8:11 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.:

The administration and faculty roles have been blurred due to changes, so it is difficult to say value has or has not been added. I think it is safe to assume that when no demand circuit breaker exists on price, the price will increase regardless of the cost of the product.

I read the first chapter of Professor Ginsberg’s book for free on my Kindle. I don’t see any reason to purchase it. He made very little to no mention of the cost of education to the student, however, you will not find price mentioned in most higher educations’ vision or mission statements either. I doubt a $100,000+ per year professor wants to draw attention to how much an administrator makes and how that affects the students’ pocketbook and financial future.

Professor Ginsberg’s main complaint was of the power and ideological shift from faculty to administration over the last few years. This shift will probably continue as we transition to an Amazon style of educational delivery. Detroit fell due to change because it did not adapt to the times. Will higher education be the last traditional establishment left to do the same?

 
At 7/29/2011 8:22 PM, Blogger ZephyrProcess said...

It's all an interesting sandbox in which to build one's arguments...though I don't recall any of those arguments accounting for the very first comment in this discussion.

 

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