UMD data mirrors national trends in administrative bloat

Editors note: this story was updated on Oct. 3 2013  

Numbers aren’t everything, but they matter. At a time when the administration is gathering data to justify drastic changes and the need to cut, some faculty members are fighting back with facts and figures.

“We (the UMD Department of History) have not had a single new faculty position since I began at UMD in 2005,” said UMD history professor and University Education Association (UEA) member Scott Laderman. “My department had more faculty fifty years ago when the student population was a fraction of what it is now.”

Laderman addressed the crowd at Benjamin Ginsberg’s discussion Thursday, Sept. 26, to identify key aspects within Ginsberg’s book, “Fall of the Faculty: the Rise of the All-Administrative and Why it Matters,” and how they can be applied to UMD.

For example, he noted the Office of Financial Aid and Registrar was split into two separate entities just last year, creating the need for an additional director and five new positions in the registrar’s office.

Associate Vice Chancellor Jackie Millslagle sent an email on May 22, 2012 regarding these administrative additions. “I recognize that this is the largest staff expansion this campus has seen in a while, and there will be questions and hallway conversation about how this happened. I am assuring you that the need exists . . . ” Millslagle wrote.

It was after receiving emails advertising job openings at UMD that Laderman noted an apparent growth within the administration. This sparked an interest in investigating and interpreting the numbers.

“Data at the University of Minnesota are frustratingly opaque, and sometimes inconsistent, even contradictory,” Laderman said. “Trying to make sense of this data is a herculean task.”

He reached out to economics professor Jennifer Schultz and together they worked to compile data directly from an annual report on allocation and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the main postsecondary education data collection program for the National Center for Education Statistics.

While not everything within Ginsberg’s books is applicable to UMD specifically, according to Laderman much of his findings, along with Shultz’s data, support the need to examine spending and growth within the administration.

As a whole, UMD added 138 new administrative and staff positions from 1997 to 2012. Laderman said this reflects the way UMD prioritizes its needs, especially when he considers the curriculum gaps in the history department that are similar for many departments across campus.

“What we see at UMD, in other words, is an underrepresentation of faculty and overrepresentation of administrators and staff,” he said.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity shows the average ratio is eight faculty members for every 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, but at UMD it’s 5.1. In comparison, the number of administration and staff per 100 FTE students nationally is six; at UMD, it’s 8.4.


But, according to Laderman, it’s the amount of money going to the administration that is the most “startling statistic,” and he warned the audience that the data may be “difficult to decipher.”

Today, college tuition and fees are 559 percent of their cost in 1985, according to national data presented by Schultz. Increase in administrative spending accounts for a 61.2 percent increase in spending per student at 4 year public institutions, not UMD specifically. The pie chart shown interprets this national data.

Laderman said from 2009 to 2013, instruction costs increased by $6.2 million, or 11 percent, while costs for academic support and institutional support increased by $8 million.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has addressed issues of administrative growth, and since then has set a goal of cutting $90 million from administrative costs over the next five years.

“A portion of that ($90 million) savings must come back to UMD,” Laderman said. “Our students desperately need it.”

Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Andrea Schokker attended the Fall of the Faculty conference, during which Laderman presented the newly compiled data. The majority of those in attendance were faculty and students, but everyone was encouraged to join.

Schokker said even though she didn’t agree with everything that was said, “a lot of good points” were made.

“We aren't perfect, but we are dedicated to continue to improve the support of instruction,” Schokker said.

According to Schokker, the ratio of faculty to administrators has increased over the last ten years. For every one administrator in 2010 there were 4.6 faculty members, jumping to 5.4 in 2012.

However, Shultz's data suggests  in 2012 it was 2.3 FTE faculty for every 1 professional and/or full-time administrator at UMD.

“As frustrating as we might find some of the trends outlined in professor Ginsberg’s work as they pertain to Minnesota, both fairness and decency dictate that we gratefully acknowledge the important contribution to our top administrators to supporting a greater faculty voice in campus governance,” Laderman said.

Prior to Chancellor Black, the governance system neglected the voice of the faculty. Now, shared governance allows participation and decision making from both faculty and administration, ultimately creating transparency and accountability. Schultz’s analysis of data compiled at UMD found that shared governance is an effective solution to high costs on campus.

“This is a concern,” Laderman said. “It’s something I think we ought to be taking into consideration as we’re having these discussions about prioritization. This is not supposed to be any sort of criticism of our staff at the university who do essential work here, and most of these staff are grossly underpaid. But, their position is essentially to support the research and teaching.”




Check out this podcast to hear one of Ginsberg's and Professor Laderman's lectures during the Fall of the Faculty event this past week.

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