Todd J. Zywicki (George Mason) & Christopher Koopman (George Mason), The Changing of the Guard: The Political Economy of Administrative Bloat in American Higher Education:
The cost of higher education in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years. Numerous explanations have been provided to explain this increase. This paper focuses on one contributing factor: The dramatic growth in the size and expense of non-academic administrators and other university bureaucrats, which has outpaced the growth of expenditures on academic programs. Given that university faculty are typically viewed as the constituency that primarily controls universities, this growth of non-academic employees and expenses appears to be anomalous. Some theories are provided to explain this transition.
Something has happened to the structure of higher education in American universities. Universities have increased spending, but very little of that increased spending has been related to classroom instruction; rather, it is being directed toward non-classroom costs. As a result, there has been a growth in academic bureaucracies, as universities focus on hiring employees to manage or administer people, programs, and regulations. Between 2001 and 2011, these sorts of hires have increased 50% faster than the number of classroom instructors. This trend toward growing academic bureaucracies has become ubiquitous in the landscape of American higher education.
With this increased growth of academic bureaucracies, there has also come increased focus by those highlighting the problems resulting from this growth. In a recent book The Fall of the Faculty, Benjamin Ginsberg describes the problem as such:
Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forging them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are filled with armies of functionaries – vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, assistant provosts, dean, deanlets, deanlings, each commanding staffers and assistants – who, more and more, direct operations of every school. Backed by their administrative legions, university presidents and other senior administrators have been able, at most schools, to dispense with faculty involvement in campus management and, thereby reduce the faculty’s influence in university affairs.