Saturday, April 18, 2015

Top admin salaries driving college costs?

A law professor says “the real reason” college tuition is shooting skyward is that campus administrator staffing and salaries are more or less going through the roof.

Prof. Paul Campos of the University of Colorado offered some compelling facts in his New York Times opinion piece a couple weeks ago.

The U. S. Department of Education reports that administrative jobs at colleges and universities grew 60 per cent between 1993 and 2009, while tenured faculty positions increased only about one-tenth as much.

Campos also says “the recent trend toward seven-figure salaries for high-ranking university administrators” is indefensible. Indeed, it is. The tired old argument that “we need to pay high salaries to get high quality candidates” has never been proved, and is unprovable.

I think Dr. Campos stumbles when he pooh-poohs arguments that federal and state education funding have shrunk drastically, forcing community colleges and good old State U. to grab more revenue from paying students and their parents. Campos says public funding has not been substantially cut back. However, he seems to be focused on total dollars allocated, and he seems to ignore the impact of inflation and the fact that the number of students attending post-secondary institutions has swelled spectacularly. Per capita (per student) public funding for education certainly has declined.

I believe much of the criticism of “high college costs” is impotent. It seems to me that the focus of critical discussion should be on reducing the actual costs of a college education for the typical student.

We need to eliminate some student amenities (like multi-million-dollar fitness facilities) and some sports (my alma mater, a small liberal arts college, still has a golf team and an equestrian team) and some liberal arts courses (for example, cut all of them and award a degree in three years) and all further additions to the tenured faculty.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved

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