Some Myths Just Won’t Die

I’ve recently heard more than a few folks suggest that the number of administrators at Augustana College is going up at the expense of faculty positions. This seems to be a particularly popular hypothesis, one that has been around at both the national level and on our campus for a long time. I’ve tested this assertion with our local data several years ago and, to be fair, it’s worth retesting hypotheses every once in a while to make sure that previous findings, and more importantly previous conclusions, still hold true.

Below I’ve laid out a table of our own Augustana data over the last ten years that includes instructional faculty numbers, non-instructional staff numbers, student enrollment, and ratios that give some sense of the relationships between a variety of combinations. Please note that the first column is the academic year 2014-15; data moves back in the time from left to right.

2014-15 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08 2006-07 2005-06
Tenured Professors 114 102 98 104 102 94 90 102 90 94
Tenure Track Professors 33 42 52 51 62 64 55 35 46 41
Total Tenure and Tenure-Track 147 144 150 155 164 158 145 137 136 135
Full-Time Instructors Off the Tenure Track 50 44 36 27 20 16 35 36 28 14
Proportion of Full-Time Instruction Workforce Off the Tenure Track 25.4 23.4 19.4 14.8 10.9 9.2 19.4 20.8 17.1 9.4
Academic Administration/Salaried Operations Administration * 153 135 171 158 172 183 172 167 159
Hourly Employees * 170 178 158 158 171 197 190 192 190
Total Full-Time Non-Instructional Employees * 323 313 329 316 343 380 362 359 349
Student Enrollment FTE 2483 2514 2538 2506 2529 2455 2531 2516 2450 2371
Ratio of Non-Instructional Employees to Full-Time Instructors * 1.7 1.7 1.8 1.7 2.0 2.1 2.1 2.2 2.3
Ratio of “Administrators” to Full-Time Instructors * 0.8 0.7 0.9 0.9 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.1
Ratio of “Administrators” to Total Tenure/Tenure Track Faculty * 1.1 0.9 1.1 1.0 1.1 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.2
Ratio of Students to Full-Time Instructors 12.6 13.4 13.6 13.8 13.7 14.1 14.1 14.5 14.9 15.9
Ratio of Students to Non-Instructional Employees * 7.8 8.1 7.6 8.0 7.2 6.7 7.0 6.8 6.8
Ratio of Students to “Administrators” * 16.4 18.8 14.7 16.0 14.3 13.8 14.6 14.7 14.9
*not reported to IPEDS until April, 2015

First, while the number of tenured professors has gone up and the number of tenure-track professors has gone down over the last ten years, the total number of traditional faculty (i.e., faculty within the tenure system) has gone up 9%. Moreover, the overall number of full-time instructional faculty has increased over the last ten years by 32%. (Although it’s a somewhat separate issue for a separate post, I couldn’t help but note the increase in the proportion of our full-time instructional workforce that is not a part of the tenure system.)

Second, the number of administrators and the number of hourly employees has dropped over the last ten years, from 159 to 153 and from 190 to 170, respectively. This change strikes me as particularly interesting given the increase in student enrollment over the same period, especially for the hourly employees who often are on the front lines of serving students’ non-academic needs.

Finally, I’ve included six lines of ratios that put these relationships between numbers of faculty, administrators, staff, and students into context over the past ten years. As you can see, there are now fewer non-instructional employees for every full-time instructor, fewer administrators for every full-time instructor, and fewer administrators for every tenured or tenure track faculty member. Moreover, even though the total number of students has increased, the number of students per instructor has dropped while the number of students per non-instructional employee and number of students per administrator has gone up.

So no matter how you slice it, asserting that the total number of administrators has gone up while the total number of faculty has gone down is, well, hogwash. Even in the context of the relationships between administrators and faculty, administrators and students, or faculty and students, this assertion is, well, hogwash. Nationally this assertion might hold some water, but at Augustana College . . . it just ain’t so.

Certainly, within those big-picture numbers there are lots of positions that have been moved from one office to another or faculty lines that have been moved from one department to another. You might not agree with one or more of those moves, but that sounds to me like a separate issue entirely – one worth a robust discussion no doubt, but a separate issue nonetheless.

Make it a good day,


2 thoughts on “Some Myths Just Won’t Die

    • marksalisbury says:

      That’s a good question. The answer is not very sexy in that it’s likely a combination of fairly mundane reasons. As I’m sure you noticed, the numbers jump up and down a bit over the course of 10 years. And unlike student data, we don’t have a mandated date on which there is a snapshot taken of the data on that date. So there can be all sorts of oddities in the data when it gets reported, especially with open positions not filled. There are also some technicalities to determining whether someone who has a faculty position gets categorized as an administrator based on the number of courses they teach in a given year. I grant you, that swing is by the far the largest between any of the years and it certainly stands out as an anomaly.

Comments are closed.