Office Space, University Edition

The movie peters out a bit at the end, but the first 30 minutes or so of Office Space are a classic, and if you have not seen it, go find it somewhere.  If you have seen the movie, you will likely recognize this job description from an article on university administrative staff bloat:

 One $172,000 per year associate vice provost had been hired to oversee the work of committees charged with considering a change in the academic calendar-a change that had not yet even been approved.  Since the average Purdue graduate leaves school with about $27,000 in debt, the salary of this functionary is equivalent to the education loans of six students.
This new administrator blithely told the Bloomberg reporter, "My job is to make sure these seven or eight committees are aware of what's going on in the other committees."

 

The entire article is excellent.  For example:

A recent paper by two respected economists, Robert Martin and R. Carter Hill, shows that the fiscally optimal ratio of administrators to faculty at research universities is one full-time administrator for every three faculty.    Deviations from this ratio produced significantly higher costs per student.  The unfortunate reality as Martin and Hill found is that the ratio has almost been reversed--2 administrators to one faculty.  Martin and Hill's findings suggest, moreover, that about two-thirds of the growth in higher education costs between 1987 and 2008 can be attributed to the rise of administrative power during this period.

  • norse

    With academics growing up in that kind of environment, it at least explains the bailouts. Btw, in case you haven't read it yet: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailout-20130104?print=true.

    Small government, free enterprise, cough, cough, cough.

  • Bram

    The bloat at universities is getting hard to hide. No more RA's in the dorms. Now it's a long list of 6-figure professional baby-sitters. Now the cafeterias are 4 star and new buildings sprout up like weeds.

    None of it has anything to do with the education - which appears to be below the standards they had 25 years and $40k in tuition ago when I was there.

  • Ward Chartier

    Purdue has an excellent Engineering school. Surely some bright administrator could talk a walk over to the Industrial Engineering department and ask for some suggestions how to cost effectively coordinate communications and knowledge sharing among several committees.

  • aczarnowski
  • obloodyhell

    }}}} A recent paper by two respected economists, Robert Martin and R. Carter Hill, shows that the fiscally optimal ratio of administrators to faculty at research universities is one full-time administrator for every three faculty.

    Hrm... wonder what the figures are for public school districts and the teachers therein. Methinks the numbers -- and the optimal values -- will be much the same... too many admin, not enough teachers. And that's likely a good bet what it would take to make public schools work much better.

  • obloodyhell

    Hey, a billion here, a billion there... sooner or later, it comes down to REAL money...

  • obloodyhell

    Norse, the readers of that are mostly liberal twits, and they ain't interpreting it like you are.

  • Edilberto Durano

    Money and power. They correlate, they coexist. Life is but a tragicomedy.
    Ed of BuildingSearch.com

  • Lark

    "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy."