The New York Times has a nice essay explaining why college tuition is out of control. They first detail the conventional wisdom spewed, which is that the public funding for universities has been cut, forcing the increase in tuition. The essay debunks this, and explains the real reason.
“According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.
Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.
What cannot be defended, however, is the claim that tuition has risen because public funding for higher education has been cut. Despite its ubiquity, this claim flies directly in the face of the facts.”.
I have spotted this anecdotally. I work with universities and academic medical centers every day. I am old enough now to have seen some of my classmates land jobs as “deans”. Someone I went to medical school with is now a “dean”. Every time I email the guy, he seems to be on vacation and I get an “out of office” reply. I still do not understand what is his role within the university.
A dean used to be a prestigious singular title. Now, everyone seems to be a dean.
I could list more examples from my personal interactions, but I tend to agree with the author of the New York Times essay. Universities have become politically powerful because they are the largest employers in many states and governors will not cut their ranks.