September 12, 2011


Universities weaken under the weight of their own bureaucracies (Benjamin Ginsberg, September 12, 2011, Boston Globe)

[T]o a surprising degree, US universities today are falling short because of a transformation within the nation's academic community itself. Today's great universities were built by members of the faculty who - contrary to the myth of the impractical professor - often turned out to be excellent entrepreneurs and managers. Yet, over the last half-century, America's universities have slowly been taken over by a burgeoning class of administrators and staffers who are less interested in training future entrepreneurs and thinkers as they are in turning institutions of learning into cash cows for a growing academic bureaucracy. The character of higher education in the United States has changed - and not for the better.

Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to university payrolls, even as budget crises force schools to shrink their full-time faculties. There are armies of functionaries - vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, each commanding staffers and assistants. In turn, the ranks of administrators have expanded at nearly twice the rate of the faculty, while administrative staffs have outgrown the academics by nearly a factor of five. No wonder college is so expensive!

Academia was particularly committed to the idea of expanding the workforce beyond white males, so it's hardly surprising that it created lots of makework jobs.

Posted by at September 12, 2011 6:47 AM

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