The Proliferation of Administrators in Higher Education

The Administrator’s Compensation Survey has the data

One aspect of the UA Advancement Division budget trouble that perplexed many observers is the fact that so many highly paid professional administrators failed to notice (so they said) what was going on for years. In response to public criticism, the University hired yet another administrator with the title of Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget and Financial Planning (the UA already had the positions of Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Associate Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs, and Budget Director) whose “job apparently will be to make sure no other highly paid UA administrators create the same sort of public relations nightmare”, as the Courier News’ Roy Ockert put it.

Throughout the world of higher education, the bureaucratic apparatus has expanded way out of proportion with student enrollment and faculty size (see below for a sample of items documenting and debating this trend). Critics of “administrative bloat” point out that the number of administrators per student has increased while the faculty-student ratio is generally flat or declining. There’s also a growing chasm between the salaries of regular faculty and administrators (and, following overall economic trends, growing inequality between top and bottom earners in general). Again Ockert:

“Increasingly, educational administrators claim they must compete with business and industry in offering salaries to administrators. In hiring professors, though, the strategy is to be competitive with other universities. Because of that and other factors, a chasm is developing between administration and faculty at many institutions, not only in terms of salary but also in educational theories, campus governance and academic experience. Too many educational administrators have little or no teaching experience, which may profoundly affect their understanding of the institution’s most important mission — the education of students.

Readers can look up how much individual UA administrators (or any employee) are paid at the OpenUA and BudgetUA portals. A comprehensive overview over administrator pay in Arkansas higher education is provided by the annual Administrator’s Compensation Survey, available on the web site of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE). The survey, mandated by state law (ACA 6-63-316), covers all administrators (athletic coaches are included in that category) with salaries of $100,000 or more and includes all benefits. From 2010 to 2013, the survey expanded from 501 pages to 723 pages. The number of University of Arkansas administrators covered increased from 117 to 161 (this includes the System Office). Another tidbit: 20 individuals were listed with a job title of ((Associate) Vice) Chancellor. Note that the line item for the Chancellor house, worth $21,788, was by mistake omitted from Chancellor Gearhart’s compensation page (see below). His total compensation adds up to roughly $400k, plus $225k in deferred compensation.

Update: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a national survey of Executive Compensation at Public Colleges. Chancellor Gearhart is ranked 64th out of 256 top execs.

Chancellor Gearhart's salary and benefits

Chancellor Gearhart’s salary and benefits

The Administrator’s Compensation Survey (pdf)

Further extensive employment and salary data can be found at the federal IPEDS data center. IPEDS reports that the number of full time UA employees in the category “Executive/administrative/managerial” increased from 181 in 2001 to 290 in 2011, a 60% increase! Meanwhile, full-time instructional faculty increased only 18%, from 834 to 989.

Links discussing the proliferation of administrators in higher education:


2 thoughts on “The Proliferation of Administrators in Higher Education

  1. Pingback: Doing well: Gearhart’s inner circle | Academic Daylight

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