Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Main Problem With Higher Education, Shown In One Simple Graph

What Obama Won't Mention Today in Michigan: Campus Has 53% More Administrators Than Faculty


Anonymous said...

I don't suppose it has occurred to anyone in academia that, if they admitted only those students prepared (SAT/ACT scores)for college-level work AT THE COLLEGE TO WHICH THEY ARE APPLYING, whole academic support departments could be eliminated. Also, they could eliminate all diversity offices and focus on creating a common college culture, instead of a balkanized situation where students are defined by and associate only with those of their own racial/ethnic group.

Dean Baird said...

What conclusions are you eager to rush to on the basis of a single data point?

Michigan's not without its warts, but I'm not aware of any top-tier universities that are wart-free.

If you're looking to indict American post-secondary education, color it with details of how students around the world aren't fighting to get into US colleges. And how US students are fleeing the country to get proper educations abroad.

It's nice that econ prof, Dr. Perry, has a hobby. Another amusing graph to paint with a spreadsheet might show the number of applicants to Michigan-Ann Arbor and the number of acceptances. Assuming two data points aren't beyond his interest, he could then do the same for Michigan-Flint to see the extent to which students are fighting to get into his school. A fine exercise in supply and demand worthy of an econ prof.

allen (in Michigan) said...

I saw a somewhat similar chart for K-12. The growth among administrative/non-teaching professionals has been three times higher then the growth rate for teachers.

The implication is that, when crying over inadequate funding and threatening to get rid of art, music, etcetera teachers it's administrative personnel whose jobs aren't on the chopping block.

Darren said...

Dean, don't get your panties in a bunch just because it's your alma mater that's mentioned. Do you want to justify the seemingly excessive administration there? Do you think it's not similar at Sac State, or even in our own school district?

Dean Baird said...

A spreadsheet comparing the frequency of my panties being bunched and your panties being bunched would require a logarithmic vertical scale. But not for me.

Honestly, you might have kept your ad hominem powder dry when you read my comment that Michigan has warts, especially given the amount of unsolicited, pro bono PR work you busy yourself with here on behalf of West Point.

The points I raised were colored neither maize nor blue.

You claim "excessive administration." Are we to accept a mere headcount as your irrefutable proof?

What is your evidence that university administration is excessive?

It might be fun to compare astronauts to NASA administrators during the glory days of Apollo. What would it prove?

In any case, the burden of proof is on the claimant (you), not me.

Darren said...

If you think a school needs that much administration compared to faculty, I'm not going to argue with you. If you think an appropriate comparison to a university is NASA, I'm not going to argue with you.

I'll just sit back and wonder when and how you lost your marbles.

Dean Baird said...

But you imagine yourself fully marbled when you claim a bar graph/head count is an irrefutable indictment of higher education?

You don't explain how the administration is excessive. You have no claim against the excellence of the university in question, you can't explain why students flock to the US to attend its universities while US students don't flee the US for their higher education.

All you've got is a one-point graph. But in your eyes, glistens like a sword with powers to rival Excalibur.

We'll welcome you back to reality upon your return.

pseudotsuga said...

If the business of the University is to produce educated graduates, then X number of faculty are needed to achieve that goal.
But how many administrators are needed for that goal. By nearly all historical measures, a rise in administrators (as has happened in nearly all schools) has not created better education. What seems to happen is that students start performing poorly, and more administrators get hired to "correct" the problem.
This is how we get such necessary administration posts such as Diversity Coordinators (such as at the school where I work)--do we need such a salaried person (with assistants, secretaries, etc.) to actually increase the quality of higher education?
Of course, the rub is what one considers as "quality"--is achieving some political hot button such as the right amount of diversity on campus success? or is it graduating students on time, with little debt, and usable skills? I suspect that said administrator has little to do with most kinds of success.

Darren said...

Perhaps you should check the professor's update, chock full of numbers.

His graph isn't an indictment of your alma mater, and neither is this post. But if it would make you feel better to call Perry a big ole poopyhead, I guess that's ok.