Think, Know, Prove–Administration Proliferation

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

This summer I read an essay by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus adapted from their forthcoming book, Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids–and What We Can Do about It.

In the essay (which you can read HERE), they write:

In 1976, for every 1,000 full-time students, there were 42 professional administrative staff members, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2008, the most recent year available, there were 84. At the same time, the number of full-time faculty members for every 1,000 students has declined, from 65 to 55, due to the greater use of adjuncts and teaching assistants.

While fewer undergraduates are being taught by full-time professors, the number of administrators keeps growing.

I read another piece, about the same time, about the number of administrators at UM-Flint, in which a student was quoted as saying, “It seems like a contradiction. They talk about how tight budgets are but then they’re increasing the number of figure heads. I understand they’re going through growth but this still isn’t a large university. That’s why I went here…I don’t see any effect of this spending on students, other than having to pay more.”

This week another report came out from The Goldwater Institute titled provocatively enough,  “Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education.” You can guess what it reports, I’m sure. Check it out HERE if you’d like.

I was reminded of the aforementioned essay during DWFDW, when, while searching for some information about the Chancellor’s New Vision for the Reinvention of the City Colleges of Chicago, I spent some quality time with the recently proposed 2011 Budget. You should CHECK IT OUT when you have the chance. In it, you’ll find a section on the Chancellor’s findings in her first 100 days as well as an entire chapter (ok, it’s only two pages, but still–it’s a chapter–on the Reinvention (starting on Page 24).

You’ll also find a proposed organizational chart. (You know where this is going, right?)

Page 27 of the Tentative Budget released just a few weeks ago in late July/early August, lists five Vice Chancellors:

~Academic Affairs, Planning and Research



~Information Technology/CIO, and


It is the same org chart and structure that Central Office had in 2007,  as published in our self study (along with an assortment of Associate Vice Chancellors for Administrative Services, Arts and Science, Workforce Development, etc.)

As of August 5th, not 14 days after the proposed and tentative budget for next year came out, mind you, CCC had a grand total of EIGHT Vice Chancellors AND a Provost, as well as a handful of new Associate Vice Chancellors, Directors and the like.

Our Current District Leadership reporting to the Chancellor includes:

~Provost and Chief Academic Officer

~Vice Chancellor of HR

~Vice Chancellor of Development

~Vice Chancellor of Information Technology/CIO

~Vice Chancellor of Finance/CFO

as well as

~Vice Chancellor of Client Services and Student Engagement

~Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Institutional Intelligence

~Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services and Procurement

~Vice Chancellor of Business Enterprises

If Angela Henderson’s old position is kept and replaced in September, then the Chancellor will have a nice round number for a cabinet (10) led by our Provost. At $135,000 to $150,000 per new VC position, I am left wondering how much efficiency is going to have to be found at the local levels to pay for all that accountability up at the top of the ladder.

Anywhoo, spend some time with the Budget and consider your own thoughts about this coming Reinvention. What do you think of these new positions? Wise investments for the new and improved future City Colleges? Necessary steps to “rebuilding and strengthening the senior leadership team?” Folly and administrative bloat?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

5 thoughts on “Think, Know, Prove–Administration Proliferation

  1. I thought I could wake up before the Harold Lounge, but methinks it’s the blog that never sleeps!

    What do I know?
    Unpalatable as it may be, as a faculty we need to be at the reinvention table.
    When a District request comes to each college for a “Presidential nomination” of a faculty representative, the Presidents should be ready with a list of faculty members who are interested and willing to represent their colleagues on the reinvention committees.

    What do I think?
    I think the decision to reorganize District Administration is difficult for the faculty to address.
    In many ways, that train has left the building. Good to be informed and to think about how the restructuring serves the City Colleges mission, yes.

    However, it seems to me that we need to spend time forming a CCC faculty vision for what we want the learning environment to be for our students. When we, as a community of faculty, work together (collaborate, debate, discuss, plan, & implement that vision) we can act locally (in classrooms, department meetings, committee work) with a more global perspective. In other words, thinking about learning within a District-wide context while teaching in classrooms and doing committee-work at the institutional level.

    What can I prove?
    That we are the content and pedagogy experts in this equation.

    I read an interesting article yesterday in the Views section of Inside Higher Ed. entitled “Missed Opportunities” by Diane Chapman Walsh.

    The article describes the difficulties of shared governance in a financial environment where budget decisions are made with or without faculty input on how such decisions effect the classroom.

    “…the professoriate may be standing at the threshold of a shake-down as disruptive as was the restructuring of medical work that began in the 1970s when health care costs began to spiral out of control…”

    Not a pleasant thought.

    One of the main messages of the article was that faculty need to collaborate with each other and with administration – bring the skills of critical dialogue to the decision-making process.

    “Rather than acquiesce in the imposition of more central controls, faculty themselves would do well to shore up their own systems of citizenship, taking account of the increasing complexity of faculty work, while recognizing that the institution’s continued success will require ever greater interdependence.”

    On the one hand, I am already exhausted when I think of the reinvention process.
    It is tempting to consider burying my head in the sand of my classroom and carry on with my career for the next 10 years and then retire. On the other hand, if I truly want to serve my students well I know it will be important to have the difficult conversations and do the difficult work with fellow faculty and with administration to advocate for policies that will support student learning; in my “home” institution and across the District.

    The article ends:
    “Faculty will need to be clearer about those purposes and about the essential ingredients of the education they want their students to expect and receive – an integrative education that prepares new generations to take their places in a world of mounting complexity, interdependency, inequality … urgency. They will need to do a better job of modeling the serious engagement of their own differences that integrative learning clearly implies and that enlightened organizational stewardship absolutely necessitates.”

    I like this last paragraph, but the sentence that stands out for me is “they will need to do a better job of modeling the serious engagement of their own differences…”

    This is where it all breaks down, isn’t it?
    Our differences within the faculty community and the challenges posed by the prospect of serious engagement (critical, constructive debate) is what potentially leads us to bury our heads in our own classrooms where we feel more in control – truly “missed opportunities”.

    I look forward to using the Harold Lounge, online and in person (see CAST), as a forum for serious engagement.

    And now, I’m off to a full day of the-Saturday-before-classes-begin Registration!

  2. First of all,
    A big pat on the back to PhiloDave for making sense out of the numbers and bringing this to our attention.
    Another big pat on the back to Carrie for being an early-riser AND providing meaningful insight. You go girl!

    What’s there left to say?
    What do I think?
    The big elephant in the room has a name. It’s called bloated administration. Anyone remember when Christine Franz was around. Talk about a model of efficiency! Dem was the good ol’ days and dems was the exception to the rule. Once again EDUCATION takes a back seat to school, administration, and finances.

    What do I know?
    Carrie, is right. The train has left the station. What I also know is that the teachers and the students are on board for the ride. We have to find a way to communicate with ALL the hired conductors and have a say in what direction is taken. Actually, we just have to communicate with the main conductor. The others will do what she says. Chooo choooooo…

    What can I prove?
    That we do have a voice. Faculty spoke loud and clear at DWFDW and Chico and The Gal had to put the brakes on the train. Way to go faculty. Let’s get this train on the right track. We all gots to work together peeps. It’s a community effort.

    Remaining thoughts:
    The Lounge is a great start for communicating with each other. We have to be more involved with faculty council and the union. We need to be a united voice when communicating with admin. We best use it now before the ratios take a turn for the worst. I’d hate to hear the sound of that train whistle.

  3. On another tangent ,funny thing this morning the Fox channel (fair and balanced!?) had a feature on the soaring costs of a college education.Their take on it was that increasing college price tags are feeding the bloated administration as well as pandering to the lure of the peripheral stuff like “jacuzzi in the dorm”,and other attractions to draw the customers(students)to their institutions.I think therefore that this justifies using the business paradigms to run the “business” of education.
    Back in the day, it was about the quality of teaching and learning now, it is a consumer driven industry where the role of faculty is incidental.The 3-legged stool of education is continuing to lose balance with the “faculty leg” being sawed off inches at a time.
    This is what I see and therefore what I know or maybe “transparency” is just another buzz word.

  4. I remember Nancy DeSombre said at some faculty meeting/gathering that we (faculty) were “the last of the Mohicans”. Does anyone remember the context of that statement?

  5. It’s a very important topic.

    What I think:
    Ask a person off the street what an appropriate ratio of full-time faculty to administrator sounds about right, and I’d guess you’d get a suggestion in roughly the 10 or 12 to 1 range.
    Ask a typical educator the same question and I’d figure they’d place it in the 7 or 8 to 1 range.
    But HWC appears to be somewhere between 3.4 and 3.7 to 1. Pretty amazing, no?

    What I know:
    If the maintenance staff disappeared tomorrow, it would take less than a week for everyone to notice. If the administration disappeared tomorrow, little would change for the course of a semester. An interesting litmus test, no?

    What I can prove:
    That the square root of 2 is irrational. Stuff like that.

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