Winter for Higher-Ed
College Admins Still Getting Big Raises
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  • Thirdsyphon

    College tuition is spiraling out of control, but if one is searching for examples of profligate spending to blame it on, this seems like a silly place to look. In most jobs, a 2% raise wouldn’t strike anyone as particularly extravagant.

    • qet

      Those raises have to be paid for. Maybe looking at from the other side, the side of people whose bills just went up by 2.4%, would reveal a less silly place?

      • Thirdsyphon

        A 2.4% raise for the people who are staying doesn’t equate to a 2.4% hike in total payroll. In any given year, in any given enterprise, a lot of people move to other jobs, retire, or are laid off. Also, if college costs were only increasing by 2.4% each year, we wouldn’t have such a huge problem.

  • qet

    ‘Winter is coming,” says House Meadia in this Game of Endowed Thrones. I blame Tywin Lannister.

  • Curious Mayhem

    It’s not the raises that are the main problem. It’s the sheer proliferation of functions in the university that have nothing to do with teaching or research — that is, nothing to do with knowledge, the university’s ostensible and tax-advantaged mission.

    Instead, there has been a vast growth, in the last 20 or so years, in “everything-but” functions: administration; student services; non-academic initiatives (like “sustainability” and “diversity”); athletic personnel, facilities, and programs (which are mostly money-losers, contrary to myth); gold-plated student facilities; and a general building mania (which means bloated operating budgets). Lacking real intellectual or moral authority, university leaders hire huge armies of underlings, including the “dean-lets” familiar to anyone who’s worked in the post-modern and post-liberal university.

    Most university budgets show this, especially looked at historically over the last generation. Personnel counts will show a declining proportion of academic workers in teaching and research. University presidents, these days, are not academic or thought leaders, but fundraisers to keep this system going and otherwise help to enforce institutional conformity in students, faculty, and staff. What outsiders call “political correctness” is part of this system, but much of it is hidden from the outside world and more insidious. Since intellectual seriousness is no longer the priority, freedom of speech and thought are anachronisms in academia today.

    • free_agent

      But the students who can afford to pay want a lot of these amenities. I’ve been watching the problems of my alma mater (Grinnell College) and the people in charge say that if you don’t have a nice campus, once the students visit, they won’t come. And the evidence (compiled in an NBER report) is that students are spending a lot less time studying than they were in the 1960s.

      • Jim__L

        If the students don’t study, the university stops being a public good. At that point, why should we care if “universities” go under, if all they are is a 4-5 year loosely-academic-themed resort?

        • free_agent

          That’s a good point. Let us compare with Obamacare, which at least in theory demands that an insurance provider cannot acquire a taxpayer-subsidized insurance policy unless the policy covers a certain minimum set of benefits (that is, does a certain amount of good for the customer). And the amount of subsidy is not increased if the customer chooses a more expensive provider.

          What would happen if student loan subsidies were available only for schools that demonstrated an ability to educate the students, and the subsidies were not increased if the sticker price of the school rose? (Y’know, I think both liberals and conservatives could agree on that!)

          As Caitlin Flanagan said, “The entire multibillion-dollar, 2,000-campus American college system … depends overwhelmingly for its very existence on one resource: an ever-renewing supply of fee-paying undergraduates. It could never attract hundreds of thousands of them each year—many of them woefully unprepared for the experience, a staggering number (some 40 percent) destined never to get a degree, more than 60 percent of them saddled with student loans that they very well may carry with them to their deathbeds—if the experience were not accurately marketed as a blast.”

          • Jim__L

            Not a bad idea — vouchers for college.

        • Curious Mayhem

          Oh, exactly. The universities are losing their right to be viewed as providers of a public good.

      • Curious Mayhem

        I don’t doubt it. The trend was clear to me 15-20 years ago, when I was teaching.

  • Joseph Blieu

    I read about the gloom in higher ed from many sources so it must be true that things must change. I hope what does not change is the structure of students being lectured in person by profs who have spent many years in a field and know where the bodies are buried. Self study is extremely difficult and less than productive. In my experience Education is a true historical craft. What you get from a full quarter class in motivation, pressure, frustration, and hard work is remarkable. They know what they are doing. That is why I am confused about reports of communist or anit male instructors and the claim of uber liberal indoctrination, I never saw any of it- in Engineering school, and we could test out of almost all of the humanities.
    I hope that there will still be places that serious kids can go for a four year BS. It takes that long for a poor small town kid to learn speech, manners, and culture- and to learn how to act like one of his “betters” as much as possible. I sure benefitted. I don’t consider the lack of integration with society to be a negative, just keep the campus theatre and guest lecturers comming. I also don’t think that faculty research is a problem as long as everyone must teach something.
    Having Old State U in your town is a tremendous benefit as long as you don’t mind living in the only pollity in your state that McGovern carried. There are a lot of good jobs associated with the College.
    I guess that leaves administrators and campus building construction, which is what must be raising costs so much. If I was king I would say hire only the surplus PhD grads as administrators and make them all teach one class each. This would cover two needs. Then all campuses must stop competing for students by building Tajmahals. Colleges are like companies that let employees fly first class. They stop being acedemic warriors and loose the mission.

  • Joseph Blieu

    Just make a rule that all admin positions must be filled from the surplus PhD population. Also require that all admin personell teach one class per quarter. That would put academics back in charge.

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