Plenty of campuses still have their share of Ginsberg’s stock characters—like the business-minded dean obsessed with starting new programs and writing strategic plans but out of touch with the basic business of teaching.
Ginsberg’s book, “The Fall of The Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters,” notes that in 1975, roughly 275,000 administrators and staffers supported 450,000 professors on college campuses. By 2005, staffers and administrators easily outnumbered teachers.
Ginsberg said he’s glad to hear the Delta Project found signs of progress but doubts it will last. He says universities are treating the symptoms, not the disease.
“Senior administrators still have good reasons to extend the ranks of their administrative armies,” he said in a telephone interview. “All the deans and deanlets and dingalings hire more of themselves and make work for one another.”
Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, sympathizes with Ginsberg’s take on the sprawling higher ed bureaucracy—but also agrees things may have changed lately.
“There’s been more cutting form administration in the last two years then I’ve ever seen before,” said Nelson, a professor at the University of Illinois who is also a vocal critic of high presidential and administrative salaries. “It’s partly symbolism. If you’re going to make the faculty and staff take furloughs, if you’re going to cancel positions that are scheduled to be filled, and you don’t want to be hung on the quad, you have to show some willingness to cut some administrative fat. But there’s so much fat they’ve gotten nowhere near the meat on the administration side.”
Ginsberg says universities could cut one-third of their administrative jobs with nobody even noticing the effects.