Administrative Arms Race

Robert Finn's informative piece in the June 23, 1997, issue of The Scientist (page 1) on the growth of university administrations ended with one of the more pervasive fallacies regarding the cost of administrators. It's easy to add up all salaries and resources of administrative personnel and conclude that "higher education's administrative budgets can account for only a very small percentage" of desperately needed savings. This calculation ignores the most important cost of administrators- nam

Thomas Brenna
Sep 14, 1997

Robert Finn's informative piece in the June 23, 1997, issue of The Scientist (page 1) on the growth of university administrations ended with one of the more pervasive fallacies regarding the cost of administrators.

It's easy to add up all salaries and resources of administrative personnel and conclude that "higher education's administrative budgets can account for only a very small percentage" of desperately needed savings. This calculation ignores the most important cost of administrators- namely, the burden placed on directly productive staff (for example, faculty) to respond to memos and directives generated by those added administrators.

Indeed, if the addition of each new vice president and his or her staff costs each faculty member an average of 1 percent of his or her time, the cost of 10 new vice presidents becomes oppressive. Additional staff must be hired at the department level to handle demands of the new function.

This...

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