Monthly Archives: April 2015

NYTimes: Tuition Hikes Linked to Administrative Costs

An op-ed in the New York Times links tuition hikes to rising costs of administrative bloat.  The article begins by questioning the “official history” of tuition rate increases:

In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. (Nytimes)

Campos then cites the Cal Poly Pomona study that debunks a popular myth about faculty salaries.  The study found little growth in professor’s real salaries since 1970, but tremendous increases in the numbers in administration (221%):

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

The rapid increase in college enrollment can be defended by intellectually respectable arguments. Even the explosion in administrative personnel is, at least in theory, defensible. On the other hand, there are no valid arguments to support the recent trend toward seven-figure salaries for high-ranking university administrators, unless one considers evidence-free assertions about “the market” to be intellectually rigorous. (Nytimes)

It should be noted that Whittier is no exception to the trend in explosive growth in non-instructional costs. Between 2007 and 2013, IPEDS data show an increase from 206 to 273 full-time, non-instructional employees (a 32% increase in only 6 years).

Providing a quality liberal education requires teamwork and mission-driven decision-making that crosses instructional and non-instructional boundaries.  WCAAUP is therefore not condemning non-academic staff, but it is important to note that creating new faculty positions, even visiting ones, is often a 2-3 year process requiring extensive data and argument in favor of the position.  It is unclear whether new positions in non-academic sectors have undergone a similarly rigorous processes.