EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

May 26, 2013

TOP HEAVY U As tuition soars, colleges add more administrators than students or faculty


Suffolk University “has changed dramatically” in the last 25 years, its spokesman, Greg Gatlin, said. Suffolk had no dorms 25 years ago, its alumni affairs office “hardly existed,” and there was no provost. Administrators also have been added to oversee such areas as environmental health and safety and disability services, Gatlin said.

The federal statistics show that Suffolk’s administrative numbers grew by 921 percent, from 29 to 296, while its enrollment rose at one-tenth that rate. Gatlin said that’s because the number of people classified as administrators was expanded during that time from just the central office to the managers of the university’s three schools, its libraries, and other academic support and student services departments. Its calculations show that the number of administrators actually grew from 29 to 120, or 313 percent.

But some universities and colleges, said Gillen, have managed to supply the same things, and comply with the same regulations, with nowhere near the proportional increase in the number of administrators as other schools. And even if the reclassification of workers has contributed to the apparent increase, he said, it has applied equally to all institutions, while the numbers show that some schools have increased their administrative numbers at a faster rate than others.

Babson College, for example, where enrollment grew 24 percent, increased its number of administrators from 45 to 125, according to the figures. At Boston University, whose number of students is up 22 percent, the number of administrators rose from 448 to 1,130. Springfield College’s enrollment increased 30 percent while its number of administrators jumped from 53 to 153.

Some institutions saw less growth. Harvard’s increase in administrators was comparatively modest, and its total number of employees actually declined.

Brandeis, which has suffered budget shortfalls, also increased its number of administrators only slightly faster than its number of students.

“How come Harvard, which has a huge paperwork burden, has managed to keep its administrative budget fairly lean, whereas Suffolk, which I would guess does not have the same paperwork burden as Harvard, has grown so much?” asked Benjamin Ginsberg, chairman of the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of “The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters.”

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