What is the biggest problem in American universities?
According to Benjamin Ginsberg, a Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, it is the growth of university administration. Ginsberg describes this growth as “administrative blight,” which has come at the expense of faculty leadership and autonomy at universities—hence the title of his new book, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why it Matters.
Ginsberg traces the dramatic growth of “deanlings” and other administrators over the past several decades. Across the United States, the number of university administrators has grown by 85% between 1975 and 2005, while the number of professional staff (i.e., bureaucrats) has grown by a shocking 240% in the same period! During the same period of time, faculty positions have only grown by a meager 51%.
Students and parents who are concerned about access to universities and the cost of tuition should examine the growth of administrative and bureaucratic positions closely. Most of the administrative positions, and many of the bureaucratic ones, command higher salaries than faculty positions.
Want to control the price of higher education? Examine cuts in excessive bureaucracy and extraneous student “services” (entertainment, recreation, sports, etc.) that are peripheral to the educational mission of universities.
Inside Higher Ed has an interview with Benjamin Ginsberg. Thanks to Taylor Atkins and Rebecca Hannagan for the link. I am looking forward to reading Ginsberg’s book.