All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.


09 June 2011

Administrators: How much is too much?

Imagine you were designing a university. You'd want buildings. You'd want books and/or computers. You'd want faculty. A theatre or two. Some workshops. Tables and chairs. Maybe a printing press. Some athletic fields. Dorms, maybe? A dining hall.

And you might think to yourself, "Gee... I should probably get some people to run this place." So you have a President, and he has a secretary. And you maybe have a few deans, each with their own secretaries: a dean of admissions/PR seems like a good idea. A dean of academic affairs/faculty relations seems like a good idea. A dean of university services, maybe? (Or maybe call that person a VP?) You'd want a VP for finance, and probably under that person a Financial Aid Director, a Director of Accounting. An assistant director of accounting who is primarily responsible for student accounts. Maybe a Registrar with a staff of assistants (I'm thinking 2 assistants, plus 1 for every additional 5000 students). You'd want a GC, maybe with one assistant and an EEOOC/Title IX compliance officer. A Physical Plant manager, maybe with an assistant. I'm sure there's lots of other people you'd want to: someone to head up IT, a good chief librarian, etc. The list could get pretty long.

But would you ever think that you'd need more administrators than you need faculty? It's not as if we're discussing total university employees, which one would expect to be quite numerous, but rather people classified as administrative/professional who aren't faculty -- people with titles like "Deputy Under-Assistant Dean of Tuesday Services" and such. These are not the people on hourly wages like your groundskeepers, electricians, registrar assistants, work study students, etc. It probably (I'm speculating) doesn't even count a goodly chunk of the secretaries.

Surely such administrative bloat is ridiculous, no?

On the other hand, talking about Administrative Bloat is a popular pastime among people who don't know much about running organizations. It's always harder to point at a particular position and say "We don't need YOU." It's like government spending: everyone likes to reduce it in theory, but in practice that gets harder.

So just for perspective, here's a list of administra positions at a local college (Chapman) that I cobbled together from their "Key Department" listings and the associated links. It's almost certainly incomplete, and I've tried only to grab titles that sounded like they would actually be admin/professional. I've left out almost all duplicated titles (on the grounds that they can't be that important and are really just titles for worker bees), anyone who looked like they might be faculty, and I've tried to eliminate as many duplicative spots as I could find (i.e., where the same person has more than one position). I was unable to get any information on their External Education or Legal Affairs offices -- there doesn't seem to be any sort of generally accessibly telephone directory for the university.

Controller (Accounting/Financial Services)
Assistant Controller
General Account Manager
Accounts Payable Manager
Financial Manager
Payroll Manager
Director of Grants and Contracts
Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief Admission Officer
Director of Undergraduate Admission
Associate Director of Admission
Associate Director of Admission and Int'l Admission Officer
Assistant Director of Admission (TWO OF THEM!)
Assistant Director of Admission: Transfer / Int'l
Communication, Publications, & Events Coordinator (Admissions)
Chancellor (Adult Education)
Director of Athletics
Associate Director of Athletics
Senior Women's Administrator (Athletics)
Assistant Athletics Director (TWO OF THEM!)
Sports Information Director
Business Manager (Athletics)
Recreational Sports Manager
Director of Student Business Services
Assistant Director of Student Business Services
OC Student Account Advisor Supervisor
Vice President of Campus Planning
Director of Property Management
Director of Career Development Center
Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs and Assessment Liaison Officer
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education
Vice Chancellor for Special Projects
Vice Chancellor and Dean for Enrollment Management
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Vice Chancellor for Academic Administration
Assistant Chancellor
Director of Institutional Research
Director of Academic Technology and Digital Media
Director of Academic Advising
Director of Fellowships and Scholar Programs
Financial Operations Manager
Testing Administrator, Academic Advising Center
Dean of the Chapel
Director of Conferences and Event Scheduling Services
Director of Facilities Management
Associate Director, Facilities Management
Building Trades Manager
Contract Services & Events Manager
Project Manager, Facilities Maintenance
Director of Financial Aid
Assoc. Dean/Director of Housing & Residence Life
Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life
Vice President of Human Resources
HR Services Coordinator
Equal Opportunity Officer
Employment Services Manager
Director of Employee Relations and Performance Management
Benefits Manager
Director of HRIS and Compensation
Chief Information Officer (IT / Tech)
Director of Communications and Media Relations
Public Relations Coordinator
Public Relations Editor
Public Relations Writer
Chief of Public Safety
Director of Purchasing
University Registrar
Associate Registrar - Registration & Enrollment Records
Associate Registrar
Associate Registrar - Datatel & Clearinghouse Management
Assistant Registrar - Transfer Credit & Articulations
Assistant Registrar - Degree Audit & Curriculum
Director, Student Health Services
Executive Vice President, University Advancement
Assistant VP, University Advancement
Director of External Relations (Univ. Adv.)
Manager, Advancement Communications and Gov't Relations (Univ. Adv.)
Assistant VP, Advancement Operations & Information Systems
Director, Prospect Research (Adv. Op. & Inf. Sys.)
Director, Alumni Engagement
Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement
Assistant Director, Alumni Oportunities
Director of Annual Giving (I'll assume the three managers have glorified titles)
Assistant Director, Parent & Grandparent Relations (Annual Giving)
Manager, Donor Relations (Annual Giving)
Director of Special Events (Annual Giving)
Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations (Annual Giving)
Director of Planned Giving (Annual Giving)
Vice President, Strategic Marketing and Communications
Associate Director of Creative Services
Director of University Services
Operations Supervisor (University Services)
Dean of Business & Economics School (BES)
Associate Dean (BES)
Assistant Dean (BES) - Graduate and Executive Programs
Assistant Dean (BES)
Director: Center for Economic Research (BES)
Director: Center for Real Estate and Finance (BES)
Director: Center for International Business (BES)
Dean, Education College (EC)
Associate Dean (EC)
Assistant Dean - Undergraduate Education (EC)
Director, Athletic Training Education Program (EC)
Director, PhD Programs (EC)
Director, Teacher Education (EC)
Dean, College of Film and Media Arts (FMA)
Senior Associate Dean and Chief Academic Officer (FMA)
Associate Dean (FMA)
Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)
Director, Undergraduate Writing
Co-Director of the Guggenheim Gallery (two)
Director, Center for Holocaust Education
(Most administrators in HSS seem to be faculty)
Interim Dean, Law School (LAW)
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (LAW)
Associate Dean for Administration (LAW)
Assistant Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs (LAW)
Interim Director, Law Library
Assistant Dean of Admission & Financial Aid (LAW)
Dean, College of Performing Arts (PER)
Director, Conservatory of Music
(There's no dean of the College of Science because it's filled by the Vice Chancellor for Special Projects)
Senior Associate Dean, College of Science (SCI)
Associate Dean, Earth and Health Sciences
Associate Dean, Health and Life Sciences
Associate Dean, Computational Sciences
Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Program
Director, Food Science Program
Director, Hazards, Global & Environmental Change Program
Director, Health Communication Program
Director, Economic Science Institute
Director, Honors Program
Director, Undergraduate Research
Dean of the Libraries
Associate Dean of the Libraries
Collection Management Division Chair
Library Systems and Technology Chair
Public Services Chair (Libraries)

That's quite a bit - around 130. Total enrollment at the school for all of its various colleges is around 6,000. They've got around 400 professors (calculated from a 15:1 claimed student faculty ratio). So it doesn't seem that bad, does it?

Well, obviously this proves nothing at all -- I have no idea whatsoever how many I missed in my really, really brief trip through their web pages. I could have gotten 70%, or only 20% -- I don't know. But I think it helps put it in perspective to actually see all those titles.

We should also bear in mind that a lot of those titles -- particularly the Center Directors, are specifically endowed positions, so it's not like the university is losing money by paying them.

I guess my point is just this: having more administrators/professionals than faculty seems like it's a generally bad idea, but if it's a bad idea it's a bad idea because specific administrative positions aren't needed. It's not a bad idea in and of itself -- after all, the modern university does a LOT MORE for its students than mere academics. Now maybe you think that shouldn't the part of the university mission (I'm rather of that mind myself), but then your problem isn't really with the number of administrators at all, but rather with the university mission itself.

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