Bureaucratic Growth Draws Ire at Purdue, Other Universities

Tim Goral's picture
Thursday, November 15, 2012

J. Paul Robinson, chairman of Purdue University’s faculty senate, strode through the halls of a 10-story concrete-and-glass administrative tower.

“I have no idea what these people do,” said Robinson, waving his hand across a row of offices, his voice rising.

The 59-year-old professor of biomedical engineering is leading a faculty revolt against bureaucratic bloat at the public university in Indiana. In the past decade, the number of administrative employees jumped 54 percent, almost eight times the growth of tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000 chief diversity officer. It employs 16 deans and 11 vice presidents, among them a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief.

Administrative costs on college campuses are soaring, crowding out instruction at a time of skyrocketing tuition and $1 trillion in outstanding student loans. At Purdue and other U.S. college campuses, bureaucratic growth is pitting professors against administrators and sparking complaints that tight budgets could be spent more efficiently.

“We’re a public university,” Robinson said. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible. Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?”

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