For about the past two decades in the USA, universities have been increasing the number of bureaucrats ten times faster than the number of tenured teachers.  Is this an “ouch” or a “that’s what business conditions demand” situation?  Perhaps it is a little bit of both.  John Hechinger, writing in Bloomberg Businessweek, makes some interesting salary observations (“The Troubling Dean-to-Professor Ratio” 11/26/12–12/2/12, pp. 40–42):

“Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000-a-year chief diversity officer.  Among its 16 deans and 11 vice presidents are a $235,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief.  The average full professor at the public university in West Lafayette, Ind., makes $125,000.” (p. 40)

What does it say about our academic priorities when our best professors are earning a fraction of what the administrators are earning?  But there is another side to the argument.  Acting President Timothy Sands points out:

“‘This is a $2.2 billion operation—you’ve got to have some people involved in administering it.’” (p. 40)

Now I do understand that reality.  Without qualified, skilled leaders in place, the organization will never reach its full potential.  Additionally, if the law of supply and demand results in teachers making less than administrators, then so be it.  That dynamic is fundamental to American capitalism.

Here is the tragically funny part of the story—former Indiana governor, Mitch Daniels, assumes Purdue’s presidential office this month.  Daniels comes with an agenda to relook at every cubic inch of the university’s fiscal practices with an eye to eliminating unnecessary spending.  Hechinger concludes his story:

“In anticipation of his arrival . . . and without his knowledge, the school renovated the president’s 4,000-square-foot suite.  The cost was $355,000, enough to send 15 Indiana residents to Purdue for a year.”

Well, I’m sure they will be off to a good start with their new president.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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