Category Archives: Economy

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.

National Labor Relations Board Clarifies Faculty’s Labor Status in Private Colleges

The end of 2014 was an interesting and important moment for faculty at private colleges.  Since the Yeshiva supreme court ruling in 1980, faculty at private colleges have been considered “management.”  New rules by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) bring significantly more clarity to what this means, and when it may apply.  Importantly, the new NLRB communication begins to clarify the difference between institutions that have effective shared governance (i.e., faculty are “managers”) and institutions that do not.  AAUP states the following:

The board explained that under the new standard, “where a party asserts that university faculty are managerial employees, we will examine the faculty’s participation in the following areas of decision making: academic programs, enrollment management, finances, academic policy, and personnel policies and decisions.” The board will give greater weight to the first three areas, as these are “areas of policy making that affect the university as whole.” The board “will then determine, in the context of the university’s decision making structure and the nature of the faculty’s employment relationship with the university, whether the faculty actually control or make effective recommendation over those areas. If they do, we will find that they are managerial employees and, therefore, excluded from the Act’s protections.”

The board emphasized that to be found managers, faculty must in fact have actual control or make effective recommendations over policy areas. This requires that “the party asserting managerial status must prove actual—rather than mere paper—authority. . . . A faculty handbook may state that the faculty has authority over or responsibility for a particular decision-making area, but it must be demonstrated that the faculty exercises such authority in fact.” Proof requires “specific evidence or testimony regarding the nature and number of faculty decisions or recommendations in a particular decision making area, and the subsequent review of those decisions or recommendations, if any, by the university administration prior to implementation, rather than mere conclusory assertions that decisions or recommendations are generally followed.” Further, the board used strong language in defining “effective” as meaning that “recommendations must almost always be followed by the administration” or “routinely become operative without independent review by the administration.” (Source: AAUP)

For more details, click here to read AAUP’s press release on this matter.

Chronicle: Colleges Could Narrow the Income Gap

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a new op-ed out on lowering income inequality while providing a framework for pay equity on campuses:

At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public honors college, a group of faculty and staff members, students, and alumni have put together a proposal that would permanently cap the growing ratio between the top and bottom earners on the campus. The St. Mary’s Wages plan would establish a benchmark minimum salary for the lowest-paid full-time employees that would rise with inflation. Tenure-track faculty members would make at least twice that benchmark. Different groups of workers (for example, associate professors, professional-staff members) would be guaranteed wages above specified fixed multiples of the lowest salary.

On the other end of the salary scale, no professor would be allowed to make more than four times the benchmark. Vice presidents would be capped at a factor of seven times, and the president’s total compensation package would never exceed 10 times the lowest worker’s pay.

Click on the link above to read the whole article.