By Professor Doom
Tuition continues to skyrocket, and always this is justified because the schools need more money to educate students. For most schools, the lie here is transparent for a variety of reasons:
If the student base is increasing, economies of scale should drive overhead per student down...but it does not. If the school has been around a while, the capital expenditures on land and buildings should be recovered, and again costs should go down. If the number of faculty is reduced or faculty salaries lowered through adjunctification, then, again, tuition costs should be lowered. If coursework is being offered online, then tuition should go lower due to reduced overhead.
Every school in the country satisfies at least one of the above, many can claim to have all four properties..and yet tuition still continues to rise.
The primary reason rising tuition continues to be paid is the student loan scam, of course, but why does the overhead continue to rise? Why do schools who should have had every reason to lower their tuition substantially over the last decade or two still find themselves continually on the edge of bankruptcy?
The answer is one I've not discussed in a while: many of our campuses are bloated with an administrative caste paid extraordinary sums to do very little, if anything. Today's article highlights one such campus, but they miss a few details:
University cuts humanities program even as it employs over a dozen people ‘with the title of VP or higher’
Let's start with the big detail missed: the university mentioned in the above has around 5,000 students. Yet, they need over a dozen vice-presidents. Any gentle readers in other industries where you have but 5,000 customers a year and still require so many upper managers? Each vice president has a very significant support staff (and possibly his own palace as well).
The school, incidentally, is private and over a century old. Have they learned nothing about how to run a school in all that time?
Board of Trustees sought to “eliminate programs in philosophy, religion, fine arts (dance, musical theater, theater, film scoring, musical performance), languages (Greek, Latin, Chinese, German, French, and Russian), and condense departments into fewer major offerings.”
Due to budget concerns, the schools is cutting Humanities programs in half. That's pretty severe. It's also fairly common today, as the immense cost of college education, more accurately immense charge for it, has caused many students to quite reasonably turn away from the pursuit of truth, beauty, and good and heads towards majors which present a better chance of making enough to justify tuition.
While academics is being dismantled at the school, administrators are doing just fine:
Honest, if our schools were being run by educators instead of plunderers, this sort of stuff would be far more rare. The titles are always good for a sad laugh:
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Executive Vice President for Finance, Operations and Administration, Vice President for Public Affairs, Vice President and Director of Athletics, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Vice President for Research, and Vice President for Strategic Initiatives...Vice President for Diversity and Engagement, Vice President for Admission, Vice President for Student Services, Senior Vice Provost for Operations and Student Success, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives.
I again advance a simple idea to bring higher education under control quickly: eliminate all positions with a title twice as long as the holder's name. It may be unfair, but it's more fair than crushing some kid right out of high school with a lifetime of inescapable debt. Just like that, this school could bring its budget under control, and I assure the gentle reader none of the above positions have a worthy impact on the education of any student.
The article does as I have done, and tries to figure out what these highly paid admin do:
The job of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives, according to the university’s website, is “coordinating the transformation and academic restructuring of the university.”
The school wouldn't have to "restructure" if they'd kept their budget under control, and I suspect this position has been around a very long time. It's a do-nothing job hiding behind some long words.
That of the Senior Vice Provost for Operations and Student Success, meanwhile, is to keep track of the “student-faculty ratio, diversity of the student body…overall grade-point average, [and] percentages of scholarships rewarded.”
Wow. The entirety of this guy's job could be performed by a typical spreadsheet in a week, assuming no data had ever been entered before. How is this a full time, much less executive, position?
And what's the new position?
“Vice President for Research,” will entail “supervision of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs,” and “guiding the institution in the development of intellectual property.”
The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is one of those fiefdoms choking our campuses, soaking up huge amounts of overhead while providing nothing for students.
The school defends its excessive administrative spending in the usual way:
...additional administrative staff in recent years have been “related to efforts to improve the school’s graduation and retention rates.”
You want to improve graduation and retention rates? Stop accepting as many students as you can, and take only the best students. There, I just did a Vice-President's job in under 30 seconds. Shame I can't get the pay.