Ohio University has 1,200 administrators, many of whom you’ve never seen nor met. Those at the highest echelon of power have made it their mission to insulate their positions with fanciful titles and large staffs. But the cracks in the system are starting to appear, and the student body is taking notice.
Last week, Ohio students and faculty took to the College Green to protest proposed budget cuts and administrative mismanagement. One of the protestors’ biggest gripes was with administrative bloat on campus. Moreover, administrative hiring has exploded over the past decade, increasing by over 90% — 10 times that of its faculty counterparts.
This administrative hiring spree, coupled with declining enrollment, has led to OU’s budget and financial woes. I have a modest proposal: remove pointless senior administrators all-together.
Administrators on the senior level serve the role of acting as a liaison between faculty, students and the Board of Trustees. The awkward position of playing as the middle-man and mediator to the stakeholders on campus hasn’t worked, driving students to protest to put education into our own hands.
The administrative bloat partially arises from the fact that universities are being asked to do more than they have in the past. That bureaucracy occurs mainly through providing increased extracurricular resources to students, Caroline Simon wrote in a report for Forbes.
“Families expect their sons and daughters to have access to career assistance, readily available health services or counselors if they’re struggling with a mental illness,” Simon said in that report. “Once, faculty performed many of these non-instructional functions, from guiding students through internship searches to maintaining diversity in classrooms and clubs. Now, administrators do.”
That subject is a very tight line to walk, because there are some valuable administrators. It’s essential to have mental health professionals to make sure students are healthy and sane. It’s essential to have a group of administrators overseeing our dining services to ensure students have food.
What isn’t essential, however, are the “bullsh—t” jobs within OU’s administration. As The Guardian puts it: “These are jobs which the people doing them think should not exist. Creeping forms of corporate escapism in universities would also be wound back. This includes everything from fanciful strategy development exercises, managerial vanity projects like opening campuses in exotic locations and overly elaborate leadership retreats.”
We must ask the tough questions. Every job on campus must have a clear purpose and value.
Simon spoke to me on the phone regarding her Forbes article. A recurring theme throughout our brief interview was administrations nationwide seemingly having no answer for increased responsibilities, costs and deficits.
Furthermore, she touched on how smaller, more niche liberal arts universities were tackling the issues mentioned above with unique solutions. Berea College in Kentucky, she noted, charges no tuition to students and instead required them to participate in rigorous work-study programs.
Unconventional ideas and initiatives will be able to drag us out of this budget crisis, not fluffy bureaucracy and empty projects. OU will never be able to make meaningful change to its pocketbook if it refuses to acknowledge the large, immobile machine it has created.
Matthew Geiger is a freshman studying economics at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those ofThe Post. Want to talk to Matthew? Tweet him @Mattg444.