- Seton Hall University Education Assistant Policy Professor Robert Kelchen offers an in-depth look on his blog at institutional personnel spending as a counter-argument to narratives against administrative bloat in higher education. He argues that student services and academic support have been the fastest-growing areas of higher education since the 1990s, but that institutional support has remained largely static over the measured period.
- He cites statistics showing that most hiring between 1999-2012 has been at private baccalaureate and research institutions, and mostly for part-time and mid-level administration — both hiring areas that can reduce workloads for full-time faculty members.
- Kelchen writes reduced tasks are necessary to ensure academic quality: “Faculty do complain about all of the assistant and associate deans out there, but this workload would otherwise fall on faculty. And given the research, teaching, and service expectations that we face, we can’t take on those roles.”
Several institutions and systems have been critiqued for the number of executives hired and explosion of administrators' salaries that have occurred during the last 10 to 15 years in higher education. But because the industry is in unquestioned flux, there is seemingly an argument for building a braintrust to expedite creating solutions for how to save or make more money in a culture of reduced revenue from public sources and student tuition.
The issue does not seem to be specifically about bloated hiring and personnel spending, but rather, what is the return on investment for institutions directing resources to executive placement? If fundraising, enrollment management and efficiency improve on campus, so-called bloat may actually be a wiser spend of resources than in hiring multiple people to do specific jobs in leadership and management.
But more than this, faculty tend to gain from administrative expansion, which if managed correctly, can help institutions earn more resources, integrate more technology, and to support student success in ways that reduce the obligation of individual faculty members to power positive metrics in research and learning outcomes.