Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Corporatism in the University

One of the ironies of the Republican/conservative/free-market ideology as it's taken root in our university system … For all its emphasis on the market as the optimal form of social organization, it ends up producing a whole cadre of bureaucrats and middle-management. Mo titles, mo money.

Specifically, as universities and other public institutions are starved of public funding and are encouraged to be more efficient, the advocates of this model also demand huge amounts of monitoring-- “compliance standards,” “assessment,” and “review.” Chancellors in the UNC System are now more driven than ever before to earn the approval of a hyper-touchy and majorly conservative Board of Governors on criteria that are not necessarily universal nor heaven-sent. 

Under former University President Margaret Spellings’ strategic plan, chancellors had to sign on to several strategic goals. Their pay raises became tied directly to performance reviews of goals-achieved. It takes extra administrative hands to manufacture and handle all that paperwork. University sub-deans and assistant vice chancellors constantly compile long lists of numbers of how their schools are doing on a host of "metrics," such as student retention, five-year graduation rates, rural enrollment, and so on.

Let's call it "corporatism." More managers, more compliance

Add the additional squeeze of money. With state funds diminishing as a share of institutional budgets, and with even tuition now capped, campuses have to compete for students, increase their enrollment, which requires all kinds of other managerial resources (“student support”) aimed at attracting those students and keeping track of them, while feeding, housing, and cosseting them.

Plus there’s still a glut of PhDs looking for jobs. Universities just don’t care that much about attracting and retaining the best faculty, because it’s a buyer's market out there. As administrators toy with shifting more and more to online education, even PhDs are becoming unnecessary.

NEW REPORT: New Administrators at AppState Increasing Three Times the Rate of Faculty
A Review of Faculty Salaries and Budget Priorities at Appalachian" was released October 20 by AppState’s Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA). 
The report reaches the following conclusions: 
- Recent allocations of positions prioritize upper and mid-level administration. Since 2014, the number of full-time upper and mid-level administrative positions increased three times faster than faculty positions. Among the three employment categories -- SHRA employees (Subject to the State Human Resources Act), EHRA Non-Faculty (exempt from the State Human Resources Act), and Faculty -- faculty positions increased at the slowest rate.

- “Trends in allocations reveal recent shifts in budget priorities. In the five-year period between 2008-2013, funding for the academic budget grew faster than funding for each of the three support budgets (institutional, academic, and student). In the most recent five-year period, funding for each of the three support budgets grew considerably faster than funding for the academic budget.”

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