Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's an old song...

Administrative Bloat at the University of Minnesota

This topic has been of long term interest  here at the Periodic Table.  A subject that the Bruininks' administration consistently tried to blow off or ignore.  But a serious problem that it will be necessary to face in the new Kaler administration.

For background:


University of Inefficiency?

There are too many administrators and they’re overpaid, he says. Messing, a University employee for 30 years, has an extreme view on an issue that’s heating up as the school finds itself in a budget crisis.
A Minnesota Daily analysis of the Twin Cities campus salaries shows 51 top administrators, from assistant vice presidents to the president, were paid more than $10 million in the 2010 fiscal year — an average of about $200,000 per administrator
In the past, the state Legislature has brought up questions of administrative efficiency. But it was the presidential transition, from Bob Bruininks to Eric Kaler, that triggered a review of the central administration now, said University Senate Committee on Finance and Planning  member Terry Roe.
The committee’s basic conclusion: “There appears to be considerable duplication of functions within the University,” according to a report draft obtained by the Daily.
In the draft of the SCFP report, committee chairman Russell Luepker wrote that many units within the University have their own public relations staff, as does the central administration.
The report also points out the volume of “centers, institutes and programs” within units, and that “some may continue to play vital roles but others do not.”
Luepker prefaced the report by saying it doesn’t focus on individual units because each has its own mission and activities. “Nonetheless, there are generalizations that can be made and should be considered,” he writes.
Professor Eva von Dassow visited the SCFP in 2010 to express frustration with the University’s spending.
In requesting an audit of the administration, von Dassow said it would “establish a new norm in faculty-administration relations” in the time leading to the presidential transition, according to meeting minutes.

Regent Steve Sviggum, who had served as the Republican Speaker of the House in the state Legislature before joining the Board of Regents, said government is top-heavy, but higher education is worse.
Throughout private and public industry, productivity has increased along with efficiency, Sviggum said. And while the University has been producing more with more students, its efficiency has lagged.
Sviggum requested University employment numbers after becoming a regent in February. Those figures showed a 50 percent increase in professional and administrative staff over the past decade, he said.
“Does every school need its own communications staff?” he asked. “Does every school need its own fundraising staff? Does every school need its own … human resources staff?”
Sviggum said fellow regents Laura Brod and Dean Johnson have brought up similar concerns.

“When you start looking at aggregate, the number and the salaries, and then the assistants and the legislative assistants, you have to start shaking your head a little bit,” Sviggum said.
Messing said the result of the SCFP’s review should include both trimming salaries of overpaid administrators and axing unnecessary positions. He said the “bloated” administration can impact students in far-reaching ways, like tuition hikes.
“You lower the tuition and you get more scholarship money and there are many ways of doing this, at least starting to do this,” he said. “Cut the administration by 50 or 60 percent. Give the money you save to students.”
“From my perspective, the administrator making $250,000 a year is worth far less than the man who cleans the toilets. One does an honest job..."
Kaler said he’s sure there are ways to make the University more efficient but recognizes the importance of some administration.
“We have a $3.7 billion budget, so managing that effectively means that you’re going to have some administration.”
Luepker said in an email that he expects the SCFP report to be finished in the next month.

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