Monday, August 17, 2009

Bloated University Administrations

RALEIGH NEWS AND OBSERVER -- 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.

Systemwide over the past five years, the administrative ranks have grown by 28%, from 1,269 administrative jobs to 1,623 last year, UNC-system data show. That's faster than the growth of faculty and other teaching positions -- 24% -- and faster than student enrollment at 14%. The number of people with provost or chancellor in their titles alone has increased by 34% the past five years, from 312 in 2004 to 418 last year. The cost was $61.1 million, up $25 million from five years before.

MP: What is going on in the UNC-system represents a national trend of administrative "bureaucracy run amok." The chart below shows what has happened at the University of Michigan-Flint over the last 7 years: full-time professional administrative positions have grown by 67% during a period when student enrollment grew by only 13.5% and the full-time "core faculty" (mostly tenure-track faculty) decreased by 2.3%.


At 8/18/2009 7:56 AM, Blogger Mr. Dart said...

Minor point... the News & Observer is the Raleigh paper, not Charlotte.

At 8/18/2009 8:03 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Mr. Dart: Thanks very much for pointing that out, it's corrected now.


At 8/18/2009 8:10 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

Dr. Perry - I believe that if you dig further that this phenomenon occurs with any administrative (read: government) body. I am in the National Guard - the "one weekend a month & two weeks a year" military reserve. There are many reservists and guardsmen activated for Iraq & Afghanistan, true, but like UNC, the full-time administrative staff seems to grow by leaps and bounds. In some states that are almost as many full-timers as there are part-timers. I believe that this phenomenon has a name - I forget what it is, but I remember learning about it in business school. It was named for when the Royal Navy in the late 1800s had a smaller and smaller fleet but its headquarters and administrative apparatus kept growing. I'll have to look that up.


At 8/18/2009 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect this is the model that will be used for universal health care - but with less doctors and more administrators. And the patient (student/taxpayer/parent) the ultimate loser.

We need to eliminate the middlemen and restore the "honest" relationship between the customer and the vendor.

At 8/18/2009 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Mexico, it is expensive to fire or lay off a worker, bue to stupid populist laws.
So our private university here has been slowly downsizing the teacher cadre by hiring "private contractor" part-time teachers.
Curiously though, they keep adding administrators??

At 8/18/2009 11:42 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Note the following the Scientist magaizine...

Nothing new under the sun...

AAUP President Claims Campuses Plagued With `Administrative Bloat'

Published: 11 May 1992 (paid subscription to read it)

At 8/18/2009 11:20 PM, Blogger KO said...

The clear reason is this:

Gasoline prices go up and people want the price to be lower.

Education prices (tuition) go up and the media cries for more grants and loans from the government.

At 8/19/2009 9:12 AM, Anonymous Steve Vivian said...

Very good post, Dr. Perry. I teach at South Suburban College (Chicago area) and have noted over the decades the same unaccountable slogging bloat.

It's never quite clear--even to the bureaucrats--what they actually DO to fill their days. Writing memos and attending meetings, neither of which produce any effect, top the list. On occasion, an ambitious bureaucrat tries to actually do something, but usually the "improvement" is a simply a mess that others must clean up.

Typically, the growth in administration leads to a growth in support staff as well. The organizational charts get reshuffled--a box is replaced with a triangle or rhombus, for example (dramatic stuff!)--and the ranks swell. At my own campus, the support staff has nearly doubled in twenty years, but not even the most addled fan of bloat would argue that the college is now doubly efficient.

At 8/20/2009 6:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This phenomenon was first noted in 1955 by Cyril Parkinson. See


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