Sunday, July 20, 2014

4 Faculty Apply As 1 Administrator




By Professor Doom

     Faculty members always grind their teeth when an administrator leaves. It isn’t simply that now we’ll have to deal with the mess the administrator left behind, nor is it the frustration of realizing that the new administrator will get paid even more than the old…and that the new admin’s higher pay will be used to justify no pay raises for us.

     No, what really drives us mad about it is when the administrator leaves…nothing happens. When a faculty member leaves his job, it is immediately a problem. All the classes that would be taught…are not taught. The students that need those classes to graduate are in big trouble—a single faculty leaving can disrupt the lives of hundreds of students, costing many of them half a year or more of their lives if nothing is done. We all scramble to do something about the loss of a position, knowing that we must do so to help the students.

     But when an administrator leaves, especially the Grand Poo Bah running the place? It’s completely irrelevant. No faculty member is affected, no student is affected, heck, no sportsball team is affected. The Poo Bah has nothing to do with an institution’s goals of teaching and research, and yet they are paid many multiples of what any faculty member gets, and treated like gods, critical to the institution.

     As the months go by without a Poo Bah (or lower level admin), the realization that we don’t need a Poo Bah just gets worse and worse, not that faculty can do anything about it. The huge disparity of pay between relevant faculty and worthless administrators is well past sanity now, and some faculty decided to at least try to point out how ridiculous both the job and pay of the Poo Bah is:

     A Poo Bah is leaving the University of Alberta. Although this Poo Bah is making a mere $385,000 a year (a pittance by today’s standards for Poo Bahs), four faculty stepped up to take the position. 

      Let me clarify: four faculty, together, offered to step up and simultaneously fill the single position. Imagine if you needed a full time nurse helping you, and instead of hiring 1 nurse, FOUR nurses offered to show up and do it for the same money that you were going to give just the one. How could you turn down the deal, especially if all four were quite qualified to the do the job? Instead of 8 hour a day service, you’d get 24 hours a day, and a backup. A no brainer, right?

      Administrators award themselves bogus Ph.D.s, so they can claim to be educated, which is something that you want in a leader of an institution of higher education. Even if such degrees were legitimate, no single administrator could possibly have the education of 4 faculty members—that’s 4 legitimate Ph.D.s (as opposed to a bogus administration degree), which few, if any, (individual) people have.

     I’m serious. Four faculty to do the job of a single “titan of industry.” Actually, 56 faculty have applied, in groups of four. I grant, this is a publicity stunt; it seems Canada (like every country) is having serious economic difficulties, and the faculty are doing this to highlight outrageous administrative pay even as the institutions face cutback after cutback.

     The first group of 4 to apply wrote a nice application letter, well worth a read.

“Even a quarter of the typical remuneration offered to top administrators would mean doubling or tripling her and her co-applicants’ current salaries, she said. Indeed, a yearly salary of $400,000 is four or five times the pay rate of your average tenured academic, and “at least 10 times that of a sessional,””

--a “sessional” is what we in the U.S. call an “adjunct”, a miserably paid professor that gets no benefits and poverty-level pay as he leads students down the path to endless student debt the riches of higher education. The dollar amount quoted is Canadian, but it’s about the same as U.S. dollars. Hey, does anyone else remember when Canadian dollars were worth much less than U.S. dollars? Anyone connecting dots in that regard?


     Isn’t is neat that if you cut the Poo Bah’s pay by half, and hire four faculty to do his job and share the halved salary, those four people would still be making more money?

     The benefits of having four people do the job of one are pretty amazing. Sick leaves and vacation? Not needed, each member could easily miss 3 months and there would still be three people available at any given time to handle problems. A lone Poo Bah can’t possibly keep up with that. While the Poo Bah can’t possibly teach and do his supposedly-important job, the four faculty members would easily share duties well enough to also have time to teach at least a course or two a year. With 4 people in that position doing actually relevant work, the whole group leaving would indeed be a problem for the institution.

     Wow, a “Poo Bah” that is actually relevant to education? That’s just unheard of nowadays. Administrators that teach would change everything for the better, just like back when higher education wasn’t mostly a scam to fleece young people. 

      I sure hope the board of trustees, which choose the Poo Bah, hires one of the groups of faculty that are applying for the position, and I deeply hope the idea takes off elsewhere in higher education. So much money is going into worthless administrative positions that using groups of faculty looks like a win for everyone involved. Well, except for professional administrators, but “peace breaking out” is always a problem when you’re just a plundering cutthroat mercenary.

     Attached to the article is a poll, and 90% of the respondents agree that, indeed, administrative salaries are too high. 10% of the respondents are administrators. 

     Apparently.