11/14/2012 07:28 pm ET

Bureaucratic Overspending At Colleges Draw Ire Of Faculty, Students At Purdue, Other Campuses

A 2010 study by University of Arkansas education professor Jay Greene found that spending on administration has been outpacing funds for instruction and research at 198 leading U.S. research universities. This trend of bureaucratic overspending has drawn the ire of college students and faculty alike, including Purdue University professor and faculty senate chairman J. Paul Robinson, who is speaking out against the practice of “administrative bloat.”

Bloomberg News reports that Purdue boasts a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, among them a $198,000 chief diversity officer. The public Indiana U=university also employs 16 deans and 11 vice presidents, including a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief.

The school seems to back national trends: according to U.S. Education Department data cited by Bloomberg News, U.S. universities employed more than 230,000 administrators in 2009, up 60 percent from 1993.

Timothy Sands, the school’s acting president, denies that bureaucratic expansion has led to higher tuition, as some students fear. Instead, he says state funding — which comprises 13 percent of Purdue’s budget — hasn’t kept pace with the university’s rising costs. The school must also administer hundreds of millions of dollars in government and industry research grants “in order to maintain its position as a top-ranked university,” according to Sands.

At the University of Connecticut's flagship campus, for one, trustees led a review of administrator pay after it came to light that the then-campus police chief was making $256,000 annually, more than New York City’s police commissioner. Bloomberg News reports that a campus rebranding campaign at Purdue cost the school $500,000, not including the $25,000 makeover the school’s mascot received that was axed after just two days.

According to the school, it relies on donations for marketing and does not draw on tax or tuition money.

In May, the University of California Board of Regents awarded the new San Diego campus chancellor Pradeep Khosla a $411,084 base salary, a 4.8 percent increase compared to his predecessor. As the Regents met to discuss Khosla’s compensation package, students gathered both inside and outside the meeting to protest against potential tuition increases. More than a dozen students marched around in orange outfits, meant to represent prison garb, saying they were "sentenced to debt."

Two years ago, Oregon University presidents and chancellors voluntarily took a 4.6 percent salary reduction in an effort to mitigate some of the pain from the recession and budget cuts. Similarly, Cornell president David Skorton told the university’s Board of Trustees he did not want them to consider an increase in his salary in light of the state of the economy.



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