Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Administrator for Every Faculty Member

By Richard Vedder

I read in INSIDE HIGHER ED this morning a story by Doug Lederman that shows that the number of full time university employees who are non-instructional professionals now exceeds the number who are involved in instruction. Roughly speaking, these non-teaching professionals can be called "administrators", although some of them are lab technicans, computer specialists, librarians, etc. Many, however, carry out many tasks like promoting the university to outside constituencies, serving on the Affirmative Action/Diversity/Multicultural Police, writing grant proposals, serving as recycling coordinator, etc.

In a pure learning environment, a student goes to a professor and says, "I want to study under you." The student hires the professor, and learning occurs. 100 percent of the employees involved in the venture are teachers. In a pure think tank environment, there are no teachers, and 0 percent of the employees are teachers --while many profess to be doing research. Universities are becoming more like research institutes than schools which teach.

The data clearly support something I have long claimed --that teaching is becoming a shrinking activity in the modern academy --absorbing a smaller and declining proportion of the institution's human resources. What do all of these non-teaching people do? If I were a legislator funding higher education, a donor thinking of contributing, or a trustee of a private institution, I would want to know.

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