Universities Try To Halt Administrative Bloat

Studies indicate that university bureaucracies are growing, both in absolute terms and relative to other institutional functions. Researchers have long decried this trend, reasoning that the growth of administrations can come only at the expense of research and teaching. The causes of administrative growth are complex, and drastic measures often are required to stop the ever-increasing costs. However, some institutions have had success in cutting their administrations down to size. The opinion

Robert Finn
Jun 22, 1997

Studies indicate that university bureaucracies are growing, both in absolute terms and relative to other institutional functions. Researchers have long decried this trend, reasoning that the growth of administrations can come only at the expense of research and teaching. The causes of administrative growth are complex, and drastic measures often are required to stop the ever-increasing costs. However, some institutions have had success in cutting their administrations down to size.

The opinion that many researchers have about administrators is crystallized in a joke making the rounds of the Internet. It tells of the discovery of a new chemical element-"administratium"-with unusual physical properties. Administratium has no protons or electrons. It has one neutron, 14 assistant neutrons, 70 vice neutrons, and 161 assistant vice neutrons. Administratium has a three-year half-life, but instead of decaying it undergoes a reorganization in which the assistant neutrons, vice neutrons, and assistant vice neutrons all exchange places,...