While budgets were slashed, college system administrative costs grew nationwide
- A Hechinger Report investigation reveals college system spending on executive and administrative staff grew by 15% between 2007 and 2014, a period during which states collectively cut more than 18% from higher education nationwide.
- The increases created dramatic casualties for offices like the University of Maine System, which grew by 26% but forced cuts of several academic programs, approximately 50 faculty members and more than 900 positions being eliminated from member institutions.
- The total number of jobs from more than 40 systems surveyed nationwide only increased by fewer than 2,000 positions, and some systems, like the Louisiana State University System, adapted to changes by eliminating staff in the the central office, including a consolidation of the system president and flagship campus' president and chancellor positions.
One of the dramatic stats about administrative bloat in higher education is that the ultimate product, student completion, has barely increased over a similar period. One study suggests the six-year graduation rate has only increased by 3% since 2002, while salaries and benefits for presidents and campus executives continue to rise.
For colleges and universities, the answer to diffusing questions about administrative excess demands opportunities to show revenue or metrics of job placement, degree completion or research expansion. Any position in which performance pays for itself is a position not only to keep, but to showcase as an example of innovation in the industry.