Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The not-so-democratic university, conflict and costs

A recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education makes a clear case for why college costs are rising- lack of power for faculty. The interests of institutions reflect less of those shared by faculty, and more of those held by administrators and board members.
"A common theme among higher education's critics is that shared governance is to blame for colleges' profligate ways, because faculty have too much influence over how money is spent. And the critics are right: Shared governance does play a role. But it is not the "shared" part of "shared governance" that has failed; quite the opposite. The fault lies in the withering away of the shared part. Reason and data alike suggest that the largest part of the problem is that it is administrators and members of governing boards who have too much influence over how resources are used."
So if resources are allocated less to the interests of faculty, presumably for teaching, then where is the money going? Not to professor salaries, as tenure track job growth ebbs off replaced with fringe adjuncts with lower wages and benefits.

 The article chalks it up to a kind of "bureaucratic entropy", where the number of administrators and staff grow faster than the institution itself, but is that enough to explain the past few decades of tuition hikes? Is this money being allocated "unproductively", and if so, what exactly does that mean?

1 comment:

  1. The money goes to "status" buildings, to administrator salaries and bonuses, and to the expansion of the bureaucracy. Large amounts are spent on "development" (meaning asking for more money), which is then spent on "status" buildings.

    Deliberate hostility to the entire academic culture of teaching and learning seems to be present in the administrative/board culture of many universities. Not surprising when the boards are filled with donors, who are often rich people who made their money through lying and criminality.