Monday, September 19, 2011

Senior Administrators Now Officially Outnumber Faculty at the UC

It's official -- the administration continues to grow as faculty and workers continue to shrink. In this context, it's worth noting once again that administrators are the only ones getting substantial raises these days (the Daily Cal has the enemies list). We have to remember that austerity doesn't only mean cutbacks and layoffs -- it also corresponds to hirings and bonuses.

Here's the full report from Keep California's Promise:
In November of 2009, posted a report by Richard Evans titled “Soon every faculty member will have a personal senior manager” which pointed out that the number of managers at UC was growing far faster than the ranks of the faculty and that, if the trend continued, it would not be long before there were more senior managers than ladder rank faculty. Richard just sent me an e-mail pointing out that data through April of 2011 was out.

I wondered if the data would show how the “Working Smarter Initiative” and much talked about cuts of $80 million to the UC Office of the President, had combined with promises to first and foremost “preserve excellence in instruction, research and public service… which it cannot do without continuing to attract and retain top-flight faculty” (see, to reverse that trend.

Well, it turns out faculty ranks have declined by 2.3 percent since the 2009 post, at a time when student enrollment increased by 3.6 percent. (I would hope the UC administration wouldn’t try to spin a continuing erosion of a major measure of academic quality such as the student faculty ratio as increased efficiency.)

But we all know the budget cuts have been tough. Even an administration striving to preserve the education and research missions of the University by directing as many of the cuts as possible at administrative overhead might have to make painful cuts to the employees responsible for education and research in such an environment. The cuts to senior administrators must be even steeper, right? At least as steep?

Somehow the ranks of managers have continued to grow right through this difficult period – up 4.2% between April, 2009 and April, 2011. In fact, the dismal prediction of our 2009 post has now come to pass: UC now has more senior managers (8,822 FTE) than ladder rank faculty (8,669 FTE).


  1. Who do you encompass as 'senior managers'? I looked at the data referred to by Keep California's Promise, and none of it presents 'senior managers' as a separate group. It seems that the figure above refers to 'SMG & MSP' (8,594 FTE in the table on page 31 here:, which is "Senior Management Group" and "Managers and Senior Professionals".

    Not sure exactly what MSP encompasses, but according to the UC Berkeley payscale: their salary can range from $49k to $268k. So I assume this includes a lot of mid- to low-level managers and professional, and not only what we normally classify as 'senior management'.

  2. Regardless of their title, if they're part the administrative apparatus, making $49K starting, then they're geting paid more than the part-time instructors that teach the growing amount of incoming students, while said instructors struggle to pay their own bills (student loans included). Which means they(instructors) have less time for research, class-prep (as they're likely overloaded), and professional development. In the mean time, non-teaching growth has not slowed down at all. Are the UC students expected to pay "student fees" to keep bureaucracy growing? Or are they paying for classes from knowledgable instructors with years of research under their belts? Right now, it rests on the former.

  3. Just to add a couple points about the data... First of all, you're looking at the October 2010 data. Here's the more recent April 2011 data, in a more convenient one-page summary:

    I think the folks over at Keep California's Promise were using the university's own language when it refers to "senior managers" -- as you point out, both SMG and MSP include the words senior and management in some capacity, which, if you think about it, is in itself fairly revealing of precisely the bureaucratic and administrative culture that we're talking about. As for the salaries, it looks to me like the minimum for a straight MSP position is $71,600, but the average salary is a cool $100,000.

    But salary isn't the best way of looking at it. Here's the university's own definition of the role of the MSP: "Management/Senior Professionals (MSP). This group is composed of managers and senior professionals who provide leadership and professional expertise at the highest levels to major University units, programs, or fields of work, and are accountable for their areas of responsibility. Positions at this level are responsible for identifying objectives, formulating strategy, directing programs, managing resources, and functioning effectively with a high degree of autonomy." (

    So no, in other words, they're not low-level administrators.

  4. Has anyone considered the fact that maybe more people are being hired because there is more work that needs to be done? When the university builds more buildings, they need more janitors. When they take in more research grants, they need more grant managers.

    That they make more money than instructors is a product of the labor market. There are way more qualified instructors (due to the glut of graduate degrees on the market) than there are positions available. So the university doesn't need to pay them much to get them to come. This is why GSIs get paid less than elementary school teachers (even after accounting for their working 50% time); the university knows that once you're enrolled as a graduate student, it would be extremely inconvenient and professionally stupid for you to go to another university, so there's not much incentive for them to pay you more than he going rate, especially when the prestige of the school is a benefit you're expecting to cash in on later.

    This is just not the situation with other administrative positions.

  5. Um, no. The growth of administration has literally nothing to do with there being more work for administrators to do. Bureaucracy breeds bureaucracy. Read Benjamin Ginsberg on "the rise of the all-administrative university":

    "Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forcing them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school. If there is any hope of getting higher education costs in line, and improving its quality—and I think there is, though the hour is late—it begins with taking a pair of shears to the overgrown administrative bureaucracy."


  6. Thank you for being so pleasantly condescending, "Um, no." Way to encourage people to engage with you.

    That said, I would still like to know whether there is any data on a correspondence between things like increases in the amount of fundraising activity, number of grants to manage, project managers for building construction, people to oversee ever-expanding programming costs for undergraduates, etc. Yes, the managers will have managers, and this costs more (though, at least in theory, it will provide accountability). But if you decide to push private fundraising and hire a well-connected person for $300,000, and two assistants for $40,000 each, and they bring in 1.5 million in new monies, well, now you get to hire more faculty with that. The question is, at what point do you stop hiring more bureaucrats and start spending the money they generated on the educational mission, rather than further investment in revenue generation. And I think that's a question that people need to get together and talk about. Citing a piece that says that bureaucracy creates more bureaucracy and doesn't even entertain the reasons why one might hire so many bureaucrats (apart from some insatiable desire to create "bloat") doesn't really help adjudicate my question about why so many administrators are being hired.

  7. sorry, that first sentence should read, "That said, I would still like to know whether there is any data on a correspondence between things like increases in the amount of fundraising activity, number of grants to manage, project managers for building construction, people to oversee ever-expanding programming costs for undergraduates, etc. ***and hiring rates.

  8. If you were actually trying to engage, then we're sorry for the "pleasant condescension." We took your "Has anyone considered the fact..." comment to be snide and were responding in kind.

    Anyway, questions of tone aside, the Ginsberg article is really interesting and we recommend you read the whole thing. Part of his argument responds directly to the assumption that you're raising, namely that more administrators are being hired because there's more work for them to do. That's simply not the case. In fact, Ginsberg argues, there's so little work for these new bureaucrats to do that they have to invent new things for themselves to do. This is central to the internal logic of the bureaucracy and thus to administrative expansion:

    "The number of administrators and staffers on university campuses has increased so rapidly in recent years that often there is not enough work to keep all of them busy. To fill their time, administrators engage in a number of make-work activities. This includes endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings."

  9. There is an assumption here that people who work for the university don't care about the university's future. Is this reality? People who work for the university may work here for 20, 30, even 40 years---their whole lives are devoted to this place. Yet, many people on this blog seem to make the lives and work of these employees out to be less important than the lives of people who are here for only a very short period of time. Administrators and staffers are here for the long haul. Students can't say the same. Perhaps the employees should be given a bit more respect and consideration? It's not very productive to label the people who spend their entire lives working for the university as enemies. They have an obvious vested interest in the university's longevity and health.

  10. Look, this has nothing to do with the administrators' personal feelings about the university. It's completely irrelevant whether they care or not. The point is that some people -- namely, the people who are in charge -- have fucked up ideas about what a public university should look like. For them, a public university should be as expensive as a private university; it should have more administrators than faculty; it should pay its workers less than a living wage; it should have luxury dormitories and partner with oil companies. It should use student tuition, and the promise of future tuition increases, to build new buildings that will only be used by the few. These people are administrators, managers, bosses; they are not "employees." Apparently you haven't noticed, but the workers are actively in solidarity with the student protesters. Administrators, on the other hand, are the enemy.

  11. Ok, I see how you misinterpreted the "Has anyone considered..." I just literally was wondering if anyone had considered that, since I only read "bloat bloat bloat" everywhere without an actual weighing of what we need vs. what we have. My bad.

    I'm familiar with the Ginsberg article. Again, my point is that while it's been established since the 1950s that bureaucracy necessitates more bureaucracy, this only means that organizations should assess once in a while whether their bureaucracies can be run more efficiently.

    I don't see how meetings and reports are not more work. Let's say our goal last year was to have 65% of the workforce at RSF be women, since in the general population, 65% of the qualified population is women. Well, we need to have people who keep track of that, people who come up with ways of doing outreach, people who go to conferences to learn about better ways to do outreach, a meeting to report back on findings, a report to be prepared for that meeting, etc. Perhaps someone else is working on Latino recruitment. And then someone else is managing them, making sure work isn't redundant, making sure people are being held accountable, making sure that available funding for such projects from the Ford Foundation is being pursued, etc.

    Again, I'm not saying that everyone is needed. But these are political and empirical questions. The political question is, what should our balance be between support administration (the kind of work I'm mentioning above) and direct provision of education (professors, GSIs, lecturers, educational materials, etc). The empirical question is, how efficiently are we doing this?

    I think the main critique for Operational Excellence is that it is clear that the political issue is being completely ignored -- costs are being cut wherever people are too weak to make a fuss about it. And this makes their empirical findings irrelevant. It's just cost-cutting for the sake of cost-cutting. Some efficiencies are found, like when 40 departments purchase the same software, now they purchase it together to leverage their buying power. But this seems the exception to the rule.

    So, yes, bureaucracy creates more bureaucracy, and this might create extra costs. But let's make some decisions about what our priorities are, and then see to what extend the administrative apparatus is misaligned with such priorities. Also, at least from what I've read so far, even if we tightened thing up so that we kept a bare minimum of educational support staff (building maintenance and technical workers, mostly), we'd still face an extreme budget shortfall without more state funding + monies from private sources like students, corporations, etc.

  12. I do not think that you understand what an "administrator" or "manager" is. There's a person I know in his late 20s who "manages" 3 people in their mid-20s who manage finances and payroll. By your definition, he's not a worker but an administrator and the enemy. You don't understand the people who you are labeling enemies. It's the STATE that is making these decisions, not the employees of the university. Do you think that an administrator in the library has anything to do with deciding tuition and fees? Do you think that an administrator in housing services has anything to do with deciding tuition and fees? Do you think that a manager in food services has anything to do with deciding tuition and fees? Do you think that a grants manager has anything to do with deciding tuition and fees? Do you think that a purchasing manager has anything to do with deciding tuition and fees? Do you really think that the administrator of a research center cares more about having luxury dormitories than having more money for research and outreach? The answer is NO to all of these questions, yet you say that these people are your enemies---because they all count as "administrators" and "management." You don't understand the many, many, many, many, many layers of employment at the university. The people who are in charge when it comes to the budget shortfall aren't even AT this university.

  13. You must be the person from earlier who was interested in the feelings of the administrators, how dedicated they are to the university, and how they wouldn't ever do anything to hurt it. I wonder why you're so worked up about this. Maybe a little defensive?

    The university has changed a lot since the 70s and one of these changes has been the move toward what Ginsberg calls "the all-administrative university." Obviously that's not the only problem; it's a function of larger economic trends, i.e. the shift from Fordism to flexible accumulation. In other words, what's wrong with public education today is not something that can be attributed to particular individuals, whether they be the UC Regents, UCOP, or the California legislature. Likewise, the expansion of senior management is a function of a particular economic model. The administrators who form part of that senior management may or may not be directly responsible for making decisions about tuition increases, but regardless their interests are structurally opposed to those who actually use the university and make it run for the purposes for which it is intended -- students, teachers, and workers.

  14. (I am Anonymous from post #11)

    "The administrators who form part of that senior management may or may not be directly responsible for making decisions about tuition increases, but regardless their interests are structurally opposed to those who actually use the university and make it run for the purposes for which it is intended -- students, teachers, and workers."

    How are their interests structurally opposed to those who use the university? Have they not in the last two years used increased student fees and a few private grants to retain faculty, rehire at least some laid off workers, and expand introductory writing and natural science science classes?

    In what ways, through specific example or theory are their interests structurally opposed to that of students, teachers and workers. How do you recommend we find a balance between spending money on the administrative support required to make the university function (some of whom serve functions that generate revenue for the university -- fundraisers, the politically connected, the "wealthily" connected, grant managers, accountants) and spending money on teachers, expanding course offerings, expanding educational space (new buildings, etc)?

  15. Hello Anonymous #11,

    In what ways, through specific example or theory are their interests structurally opposed to that of students, teachers and workers.

    It sounds like you still haven't read the Ginsberg piece we suggested. It directly answers this question with numerous concrete examples, demonstrating that the administrative apparatus ends up doing primarily one thing: growing itself. Remember, the whole reason we're having this discussion here is the fact that "senior management" now officially outnumbers faculty in the UC system.

    All of the tasks that you describe as important administrative roles are things that, to be quite honest, we simply aren't interested in. We don't want private donors and philanthropists telling us how to teach and learn. We don't want luxurious new dormitories. We don't want high tuition even if it comes with some financial aid (which in most cases just means exploited labor ['work study'] and student loans ['student debt']). We don't want administrators hiring increasing numbers of exploited, adjunct faculty, while giving themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bonuses. In short, we don't want to be managed -- and that's precisely what managers are there to do.

    1. Why are you at an institution in the first place? Shouldn't you be starting an anarchist revolution?

    2. I don't personally care about the Ginsberg piece. Have you read 'Deschooling Society'? Read that one and then get back to us. The whole thing - public, private and for-profit - should be dismantled.

  16. First of all, I find it pretty offensive that you assume I've not read something that I've repeatedly stated I have read previously. That piece has made it around the blogs.

    I am deeply invested in the public education movement, but I'm finding that, not just on this blog, but on many other lefty blogs, there is a tremendous amount of contempt for people who hold more moderate views. It really makes you feel like you're going to get blasted for expressing your point of view and asking questions.

  17. That said, let's just make sure we're on the same page here. This is my understanding of Ginsberg:

    As previously stated, I am familiar with the Ginsberg piece. I just reread it, and the only piece I'd forgotten was his forecasting that eliminating senior management would force more faculty to work administrative positions. I'm not sure how that would play out, but that's obviously beside the point.

    Perhaps we are interpreting Ginsberg differently. Here is my understanding:

    Colleges are spending more money than they used to. This much mean they have more money than they used to. They could choose to spend it on education or administration, and they've opted to spend it disproportionately on administration. This is bad because whereas administrators used to be faculty, now they are bureaucrats who don't really care about or understand how education works. Evidence of this is that they continue to hire full-time administrators while touting the benefits of part-time instructors. And those who are hired full-time get paid a shitload of money.

    There are three possible causes for administrative growth: infrastructure support (IT stuff, more student services, more elaborate fundraising); regulation compliance (more state/federal regulations means you need more people to make sure you're staying compliant); and faculty don't want to do administrative work anymore, so now they have to outsource this work to bureaucrats.

  18. He says that infrastructure support can't be right, because while the technical world expanded, entire new academic disciplines and subfields were created. The rate of growth in IT crap should have been on par with, not vastly outpaced growth in teaching what with all this new stuff to teach. Regulation compliance can't be the explanation because you don't really need that many people to do this, and you would expect this to happen at state schools and not so much at private. This isn't what you find. Finally, the faculty story just isn't that compelling because some faculty are willing to do these tasks and others not.

    So what's the answer?

    Bureaucrats are trying to legitimate and solidify their existence by taking functions away from some people (not really clear what he's referring to here -- I'm familiar with bureaucratic rationalization, but some details here would be nice) or by creating new functions. So we have bigger bureaucracies because of a power grab by those already in the administration.

  19. He then makes the following points:
    1) Sometimes stupid tasks are created. (bottom page 2)
    2) Administrators don't even have enough work to do. So they just have meetings and report back on meetings and have meetings to plan future meetings.
    3) Sometimes they waste money by going off-campus for meetings and hiring stupid people to increase productivity.
    4) Sometimes they waste money on travel going to far-off conferences in fancy places.
    5) Strategic plans are a waste of time.
    6) All they do well is fundraise. But then they spend the money mostly on more administration, not education. Case-in-point are the ridiculous sums made by college presidents, and their ridiculous perks.
    7) All of this money getting thrown around can lead to corruption. These bureaucratic institutions are not very good at accountability and oversight. Part of this is the fault of Sarbanes-Oxley not applying to universities.
    8) U of C Med School did the right thing and cut a $100 million deficit by cutting senior admin staff.
    8) Top admins get raises for "more pay for more work" and "retention bonuses" and "performance bonuses" etc. This is a unfair since no one else gets this, and it's counter to the university's educational mission.

    His solution?

    Regents should compare their ratio of staff to students to the national mean and trim the fat accordingly.

    U.S. News should make bloat a ranking category.

    After the trimming is done, senior management should turn to faculty to for support, rather than bureaucrats.

  20. ---

    I am assuming that the structural opposition you're referring to is that, given the choice between spending money on education and administration, the administration spends it on more administration. Ginsberg says this is basically the bureaucrats concentrating the means of administration, accumulating legitimacy and power.

    I don't deny this is the case. But I question whether this is a structural opposition. The administration exists mostly to make sure the university doesn't fall apart at the seams and to do fundraising. Since we're talking about senior management here, let's talk about fundraising. I think it is an open question, one that should be carefully considered, at what point we take the money that we've already generated and invest it in hiring people who can generate more money and investing it education. When you have a billion dollar budget shortfall, that sounds to me like a time to invest in people who will help the university make more money.

    "All of the tasks that you describe as important administrative roles are things that, to be quite honest, we simply aren't interested in. We don't want private donors and philanthropists telling us how to teach and learn. We don't want luxurious new dormitories. We don't want high tuition even if it comes with some financial aid (which in most cases just means exploited labor ['work study'] and student loans ['student debt']). We don't want administrators hiring increasing numbers of exploited, adjunct faculty, while giving themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bonuses. In short, we don't want to be managed -- and that's precisely what managers are there to do."

    I completely agree that having private interests involved in public education is bad. But what are we to do? You say we would save a whole lot of money by doing away with senior management, returning management to ourselves. But this is just a drop in the budget. Ginsberg cites U of Chicago as having done this, but that was to cover a $100 million dollar shortfall -- nowhere near UC's deficit. And I guarantee you that administrators at U of C's med school are paid more than administrators here!

    You don't want high tuition. No one does! But how do we close the gap?

    We don't want administrators hiring cheap, exploited faculty, while giving lots of bonuses. But that's how the labor market works -- there is a glut of Ph.D's on the market, so the university doesn't have to pay them much. As far as the bonuses go -- I agree, we should tell the people who want bonuses to go fuck themselves and find someone else qualified for the job who will do it for less. But if that's the way you want to go, the same logic applies to the part-time instructors. The university will pay the least money it can to get whomever is good enough for the job. I would say here that Ginsberg has a good point -- administrators feeling the need to hire the most competitive people on the market for administrative positions, while skimping on teaching.

    We don't want luxurious new dormitories. I agree, that's stupid. But what are you referring to, exactly? What luxurious, new dormitories?

    We don't want to be managed. Ok, so how do you run the university then? How do you decide in which fields new hires should be made? How do you decide how to modify your facilities so that top faculty will teach here, because NSF will fund their projects that require hi-tech crap?

  21. (sorry for the 200 posts; couldn't get that all into 1!)

  22. Let me just say really quickly that I do appreciate your comments and questions -- this is one of the most interesting, and definitely most detailed, conversations I've ever had on the blog. Mostly we're used to dealing with trolls, which may be responsible for the sort of default snark of the response. Regardless, I don't have enough time right now to write back, but I'll try to get to it soon. In the end, though, I think the bottom line is that we're sort of talking past each other because we're interested in different things: you're interested in the policy options that might be able to make the incredibly fucked up situation of public education (marginally) better, while we're interested in a broader critique of economic systems and the ways that the university more generally fits into and participates in them.

  23. I agree that we're talking past one another, and I largely support the idea of broader economic critiques. What I don't understand, though, is how we deal with the problem that we have on our hands right now: there is a several hundred million (billion?) dollar budget shortfall. Right now, buildings need to be fixed, teachers need to be paid, grossly overpaid administrators need to be paid. Where does the money come from? This thread suggests axing the administration because their interests are entirely structurally opposed to that of education. I suggest that this is definitely bloat, people are overpaid, and we should assess what can be cut where. However, the administration serves both coordinating and economic functions without which the university could not run -- unless "those who use" the university are willing to take on these functions (and it would not be surprising if they built the bureaucracy right back up, facing similar problems that generated the bureaucracy in the first place).

    So, there are our ideals of reworking entire structures -- which I am actually more sympathetic to than I let onto in this thread -- but then there is the reality of the actual day to day functioning of the university, and being specific about how you plan to move from point A to point B, rather than just further elaborating how far apart they are and why.

  24. Sure, I mean, the neoliberal university isn't autonomous from capital, that is, it can't be extracted from the broader economic context of late capitalism/flexible accumulation/precarity. So there's no easy answer or quick fix to the university's problems. There may be policies that make the situation marginally better or that minimally ameliorate the violence of austerity (and there are all kinds of people making proposals, like Bob Samuels). But none of them will "save" the university -- the university can't be saved. There's no going back to the Master Plan (and would we really want to go back to the way things were in the 60s even if we could...?).

    But hey, if we were forced to pick a couple of concrete policies, we could start with abolishing UCPD (and while we're at it how about declaring the university an autonomous zone, i.e. no police interference). Then we could take care of the administration on our own...

  25. How dumb things happen at smart universities. The public’s UC Berkeley harvests family savings, Alumni donations, supporter’s money and taxes. Cal. ranked #1 public university total academic cost (resident) as a result of the Provost’s, Chancellor’s ‘charge resident’s higher tuition’. UCB tuition is rising faster than other universities.

    Cal ranked # 2 in faculty earning potential. Spending on salaries increased 29% in last six years. Believe it: Harvard College less costly.

    University of California negates promise of equality of opportunity: access, affordability. Self-absorbed Provost Breslauer Chancellor Birgeneau are outspoken on ‘charging residents much higher’ tuition.

    Birgeneau ($450,000) Breslauer ($306,000) like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving them their entitled funding. The ‘charge instate students higher tuition’ skyrocketed fees by an average 14% per year from 2006 to 2011 academic years. If they had allowed fees to rise at the same rate of inflation over past 10 years fees would still be in reach of middle income students. Breslauer Birgeneau increase disparities in higher education, defeat the promise of equality of opportunity, and create a less-educated work force.

    Additional state tax funding must sunset. The sluggish economy, 10% unemployment devastates family savings. Simply asking for more taxes (Prop 30, 32, 38) to spend on self-absorbed Cal. leadership, inefficient higher education practices, over-the-top salaries, bonuses, is not the answer.

    UCB is to maximize access to the widest number of residence at a reasonable cost. Birgeneau Breslauer’s ‘charge Californians higher tuition’ denies middle income families the transformative value of Cal.

    The California dream: keep it alive and well. Fire hapless Provost George W Breslauer. Clueless Chancellor Birgeneau resigned. Cal. leadership must accept responsibility for failing Californians.

    Opinions? UC Board of Regents Calif. State Senators, Assembly members.

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