Monday, March 28, 2016

Administrative positions steady; TT faculty down 20%.

I've skimmed the data in Sunday's article on administrative lines in the Southern--which helpfully links to various tables and charts. But I can't fairly evaluate them as they don't readily provide definitions of what counts as "administrative", something that may vary across campuses. I'm more comfortable looking at data from SIUC itself, which is readily available on the Institutional Research website. Recent hiring trends ought to tell us something about the direction we're moving in.

We're not moving in the right direction. Our total enrollment is down 17.7% over the ten years, from 2006 to 2015. TT faculty are down by 20.5%. Perhaps classes taught by missing TT positions were covered by NTT colleagues, whose numbers held steady.

But despite losing one in five students, we have just as many "Executive Administrative Professional" positions as we did ten years ago.  And we have 6.5% more "Professional Non-Faculty".

So over the last ten years we lost 175  TT faculty; we gained 98 "Professional Non-Faculty". In 2006 we had 46 more TT faculty than Professional AP staff, the more familiar category of "Professional Non-Faculty" (845 to 799). But in 2015 we had 152 more AP than TT.

Anyone who's dipped into this iteration of the blog (congratulations!) knows that I have been skeptical of claims that administrative bloat is our fundamental problem. I wasn't entirely wrong. For example, this chart posted by the Southern puts total administrative salaries at SIUC at just about $20 million. $20 million happens to be just about how much Rauner's proposed budget cut would cost this campus. I don't think anyone would seriously propose that we can eliminate every penny in administrative salaries at SIUC.

But I also like to be fact-based. The fact that TT faculty numbers are plummeting while administrative positions hold steady or grow has me changing my tune. Unless there's some grave error in  the figures above, we should be able to cut a sizeable chunk from administrative costs. Given that administrative numbers have yet to fall despite student numbers falling by 1/5, a rough and ready estimate suggests we should be able to cut administrative funding by 1/5, i.e., $4 million dollars, which conveniently amounts to 1/5 of the cuts proposed by Rauner. In other words, the Raunerite argument that Higher Ed cuts can be met mainly by cutting administrative waste is 1/5 correct. That's higher than average for him.

More importantly is a local conclusion to be drawn from this analysis (admittedly rough & ready). We should demand that our administration identify sizeable administrative cuts before making any cuts to  TT and GA positions. Those positions have already been cut. Administration hasn't.

Here are ten-year figures from fall 2006 to fall 2015.
Students ("total enrollment"): -17.7% (21,003 to 17,291)
Full time tenured/tenure track: -20.5% (845 to 672)
Full time NTT: +0.4% (539 to 541)

Executive Administrative Professional: unchanged (209 to 209).
Professional Non-Faculty: +6.5% (1410 t0 1502)

Secretarial/Clerical: -13.4% (968 to 838).
Technical/Para-Professional: +29.8% (403 to 523)

Skilled Craft: -4.4% (181 to  173)
Service/Maintenance: -9.6 % (477 to 431)
Graduate Assistants:  -13.2% (1669 to 1448)

Total Employees: -6.9% (7178 to 6686)

1. Between fall 2010 and fall 2011 all 57 employees in the "Professional CS" category disappeared, never to reappear. As I suspect this is due to a change in classification, rather than a decision to layoff all these employees, I leave them out of the figures.

2. The only employment category to include part-time employees was faculty; we had 223 part-time faculty in 2006 and 168 in 2015. As these folks aren't classified as TT or NTT, and no other category has part-time employees, I omitted them from the figures above. 


  1. I do not really understand what these numbers mean either. As departments get smaller, the number of chairs and deans does has not. It makes sense that there would be a lag between losing faculty and losing admin positions. We may have hired people to improve retention - because we won't raise admission standards. How many of the pro non fac are IT people? Has IT been growing?

    -Mike Sullivan

  2. You should also add sizable cuts to Athletics. Nobody is seriously arguing that "we can eliminate every penny in administrative salaries at SIUC" but other cuts can be made before GA and NTTs bear the brunt. Again, we are into the second half of the semester and the FA still remains silent. Are they waiting for the vacation when faculty are usually not here which is generally a good time for the administration to start sending out dismissals?

  3. Mike, you may be right about positions for retention (though I'm dubious about their value) and IT positions (less dubious)--but I suspect neither is a large factor. One would have to do analysis position by position to figure out things like that.

    Your point about lag strikes me as very important--and difficult. I'm sure there are many units with fewer faculty but essentially the same administrative staff. Managing fewer faculty is easier than managing more, but every department gets a chair, and every chair needs some support staff. Solving the lag problem would require merging (or shuttering) departments, programs, even colleges. That is always controversial--and it always should be.

    Less controversial but not without problems would be 'differential pay' for chairs. I.e., if you run a department of 12 you get 10 months of pay (say); if you run a department of 35 you get 12 months. Or you teach more if run a smaller department.

    Speaking as a former chair I can say (a) that chairs here are reasonably well compensated, compared to peers (i.e., chairs get a good bump in pay, whatever their pay level) and (b) I thought I earned the damn money. (b) is obviously a more tenuous point--more on that perhaps in a subsequent post: call it administrative self-importance syndrome.


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