Administrative Bloat at American Universities

With all the buzz over the past week about President Obama’s new plan for reforming higher education in the United States, it is a good time for a reminder about why higher education costs are rising.


Grossly bloated university administrations are responsible for much of the growth in educational costs over the past generation.

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “the number of Purdue administrators has jumped 54 percent in the past decade—almost eight times the growth rate of tenured and tenure-track faculty.” In the article, Purdue University is used as a case to represents  the broader national trend in administrative growth at universities and colleges.

“U.S. Department of Education data show that Purdue is typical: At universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty,” according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

So, while the costs of instruction (which correlate to faculty salaries) have remained practically flat over the past twenty years, the number of university administrators and the amounts of their salaries have grown incredibly.

Previous posts at this website have discussed this issue. See the sections on “Education Policy” and “Humanities Education”.

For further reading on this topic, see: Benjamin Ginsberg’s The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why it Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). See also my post on this important book.


Bloomberg Businessweek reports on administrative bloat at American universities. Thanks to my colleague, Sean Farrell, for sharing this reference.

This entry was posted in Education Policy, Humanities Education, Political Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

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