Faculty pushing back on administrative salary bloat on some mainland campuses

A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article is making the rounds at UH (“The Troubling Dean-to-Professor Ratio“).

At universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty. “Administrative bloat is clearly contributing to the overall cost of higher education,” says Jay Greene, an education professor at the University of Arkansas. In a 2010 study, Greene found that from 1993 to 2007, spending on administration rose almost twice as fast as funding for research and teaching at 198 leading U.S. universities.

According to the article, some schools are reassessing administrative salaries. The University of Connecticut, for example, is said to be looking at administrative compensation following a controversy over the salary of the campus police chief, who was paid more than the New York City police commissioner.

At UH, similar comparisons could be made. The university’s general counsel, for example, is paid $223,488, which is 43% more than the Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court (who receives $156,727).

Some have dubbed the UH administration “the new Bishop Estate.”

And although the faculty union has consistently raised the issue of administrative bloat, it has yet to be taken seriously.

Will the Senate return in the new year to give additional scrutiny to the administrative budget?

6 responses to “Faculty pushing back on administrative salary bloat on some mainland campuses

  1. UH’s legal counsel is an open joke: overpaid, politically connected and connecting. They don’t seem to do anything themselves, but contract out to others. Exploring the connections would be fascinating but no one in office would have the cajones to do anything.

    You do have to pay good adminstrators good money, especially with the UH reputation, but why give them tenure on arrival or anything else you wouldn’t give to faculty (who after all do the work)?

  2. Administrative salaries at UH began to climb with the appointment of Evan Dobelle. His salary was the highest in the country for a public university president paid from public funds (as I recall, there were two or three other public university presidents with somewhat higher salaries, but part of their compensation came from private sources. Information from the Chronicle of Higher Education at the time.) What the BOR could have been thinking is beyond me! Dobelle then paid the people he brought in at higher rates than before, and eventually that resulted in an equity study that increased many administrators’ salaries. It’s definitely time to revisit those salaries. Ironically, I suspect that Dobelle’s high salary also wound up raising administrative salaries across the country: “If the University of Hawaii can pay that kind of money to its President, why can’t (fill in your favorite state university) pay even more?”

    With respect to number of administrators, however, I have a little different perspective. The number and variety of reports required of administrators by the federal government, the Hawaii legislature, and the California legislature also skyrocketed in the 90s (and probably beyond). California? Yes, because whatever Sacramento requires of California colleges gets written into the accreditation requirements that UH is subject to! I don’t know that the number of administrators is appropriate, but the numbers did need to grow.

    At Manoa, another way in which administration grew was when a decision was made, at faculty insistence as I recall, to have a Dean of each of the A&S colleges. At first that Dean was half time (the era of the “deanlets”), then full-time, then there were assistant or associate deans and extended other staff, and I don’t know where it is now. Some of that was probably necessary to deal with the burgeoning of research at UH during that period, which put increasing demands on administrators, but probably not all.

  3. The new Chair of the Senate Higher Education is Brian Taniguchi in whose district is the Manoa campus. A long-time legislator, he is also an attorney – and accessible. I suggest that those who are concerned about the future of the University System and its costs take some time to talk to Senator Taniguchi.

    Another critical move would be to set up a series of community meetings at all ten campuses. The definition of community? It’s not just faculty, staff and students.

    With respect to salaries as well as the number of administrators, that is something worth examining.

  4. Having recently completed master’s degree at Manoa, my observation is that it’s a matter of accountability more than anything else. There is a lot to be done; some people work very hard every day to raise the bar. Some do nothing. It’s a Sisyphean task to fire the deadwood. I found out that there are tenured academic advisors. WTF? Maybe it’s my personal biases at work, but it always seems to me that the ones that need to go are the best at protecting their jobs. When the cuts come, inevitably it’s the good ones that get shown the door; they were too busy trying to do a great job instead of protecting okole.

  5. Despite highly paid PR folks at UH (Diane Chang, Lynne Waters, and now Jim Donovan) we have to learn of the new AD announcement from an OHIO newspaper?

  6. Scene I.

    It was Cayetano who brought in the hotshot system prez in 2000. Remember that Cayetano wanted to build all sorts of things (convention center, oceanarium, art museum), but the money just wasn’t there. Facing budget deficits, when he had to make a decision on how to spend the money, he began to publicly state how hard it is finding good management talent in government, and how top salaries needed to expand to draw in the talent. This logic was then at work in the hiring of the new system prez, who was supposedly an expert in community transformation and urban planning.

    Scene II.

    But then something else happened in the population. This hiring seemed to trigger some latent memory of corporate propaganda from the 1980s regarding the myth of the high-flying CEO ‘turn-around artist’. So, even though the hiring of this system prez was intially a big surprise, even shock, this turned into excitement (and dread, among the status quo) that we can shake things up if we bring in big shots.

    Scene III.

    This system prez originally stated that he wanted to focus on using the university to transform the public education system in order to create a college-ready population. But within a few months he was literally told by the educational bureaucracy and politicians that they have no intention whatsoever of changing anything, and that he would have to mind his own business. So this system prez then started trumpeting building a ‘world-class university’ on an ever-shrinking budget — precisely what his predecessor, Mortimer, was criticized for doing. (In fact, Mortimer was/is an internationally recognized expert on downsizing universities, which he was hired to do initially, but which he then seemed to forget.)

    Scene IV.

    The system prez began to hire at huge cost a team of old friends who specialize in public relations. But their performance was less than stellar (e.g., the fiasco of creating a new logo, when they submitted a design that looked like an even worse version of HPUs logo). He was then told after two years in office by politicians that they want him gone. So he hired a politically connected local as a ‘chief-of-staff’ (?) at a huge salary to do much of his job, and then boosted the pay of other administrators to also do more of his job, and then he toured the US looking for another job.

    Scene VI.

    The local political elite began to play his game. For example, the head of public education in Hawaii at that time had her salary doubled, without any corresponding doubling of her abilities.

    Scene VII.

    He got rich and left. Others at the UH and in the local power structure are getting rich.

    Meanwhile, Hawaii’s economy seems to continue to follow the pattern of collapsing every five years, with each subsequent collapse worse than the preceding one. The society is getting poorer.

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