The Southern published an ambitious article on administrative salaries * today.
I'll try to return to this issue when I have the time to dig into the data. I've attacked administrative bloat at SIU when I've seen it, as in those FA White Papers from the last crisis. I'll attack it again if I see it--but the Southern's data is ultimately inconclusive. Here's the larger point, I think.
While the story in the Southern is quite well done, their choice of topic plays into the hands of Rauner and his allies. "Administrative costs", in their hands, are basically what "fraud and abuse" are in the hands of those who attack social safety-net programs. Administrative bloat at universities and social service fraud both exist. But those who talk the most loudly about them are often not friends of universities or social services.
Is is hypocritical of me to play the administrative bloat card in 2010 but reject it in 2016? Well, I say no, predictably. No because in 2010 we were facing a cut of $7 million, and enrollment was relatively steady--compared to what it will be next year. So we did some analysis, and argued that cuts to administration could go a long way toward dealing with that supposed crisis. The Governor's proposed budget next year would cut us $20 million, after a year with zero funding (roughly $1oo million lost), and with enrollment (and therefore tuition revenue) bound to shrink drastically. You simply can't wring that much out of administration.
* Just fixed the link [3/28]. Sorry about the typo earlier.