by Daniel Bennett
Johns Hopkins University is the latest school to announce a hiring and salary freeze. This comes as no surprise as colleges across the US react to the downturn in the economy that has resulted in large losses of college endowments and a decline in college affordability for students and their parents. JHU took a step in the right direction by imposing a 5 percent reduction in top administrator pay--a act that should be viewed by the public and college officials as a realistic opportunity to make useful change.
However there is still much to be desired with respect to bringing colleges back to reality at a time when administrative pay is bloated and the number of high ranking college bureaucrats has risen disproportionately to student enrollment. The number of FTE executive-level officials has grown by more then 53 percent over the past 20 years, whereas FTE enrollment only grew by 39 percent.* These trends have contributed to the public outrage over the soaring price of college, along with a plethora of other missteps along the way.
A friend of mine has a newborn little girl and is already thinking about saving for her college education. She was shocked after talking to her financial advisor to find out that the family will need to save over $400 a month for the next 18 years in order to cover the cost of attending the University of Virginia (a Public college) if the current tuition trends continue to rise at the rates that they have over the last decade. This is assuming a 10% annual rate of return on investment. This is ridiculous and something has to give. The current recession is a perfect opportunity to correct many of the failed policies and university mismanagement that have enabled the tuition bubble and allow it to burst, so that the future generation of Americans can afford to earn an education and advance our nation and world economically.
* Figures cited are from ongoing research and represent a sample of 2,784 degree-granting colleges, which represents 55% of degree-granting institutions and 85.5 percent of student enrollment