On October 17, a Los Angeles Time’s article pointed out a questionable trend in the UC system that has been growing more and more evident. Over the past decade, the number of administrators and managers has risen “38 perecent…but the ranks of tenured and tenure-track faculty have been relatively flat” at a slow rise of 8 percent. In addition to this trend, the number of employees who are paid at least $400,000 a year has risen to 900, “nearly twice as many [employees] in 2010 and more than six times as many as in 2004.” Though these statistics do not tell the whole story, it does call into question the need for all of these administrators at a time when the UC budget previously sought to increase at the expense of increasing students’ tuition and fee costs. (If the yearly 5 percent raise on tuition had actually occurred, would it have went toward supporting this bloated trend?).
Citing that many administrators are “IT managers, architects, engineers and fiscal analysts,” UC officials stated that such administrators are necessary “to meet rising information and technology demands, [and] increasingly complex requirements of government funding and regulation…” At UCR, the growing need for administration is understandable with Kim Wilcox’s ambitious campus expansion plan, receiving its first step in funding last September. And, such positions are essential to run the inner workings of a university, such as payroll, academic advising or program planning. In the end, all these positions are meant to go toward sustaining and bettering a college student’s education, yet current practices are not ensuring this.
Though administrators are needed to keep the cogs of a university going, the Bain & Co. efficiency experts’ assessments at UC Berkeley (UCB) revealed that the bureaucracy between the chancellor and top UCB employees had about “11 layers of management…suggesting that the organization had too many bosses.” If the other UC schools are following a similar business model in terms of management, then they are not only misusing manpower, but also have a model that results in “slower decision-making, excessive costs and lower employee morale.” If assessment like the one conducted at UCB occurs at the other campuses and proves to have the same results, then changes must be made so that the funding appropriated toward administration is used toward the UC’s initial purpose — educating the public.
While the UC’s mission statements specify “teaching, research and public service,” many students feel that their quality of education has slowly been ignored. Though the number of undergraduate students attending the UCs has increased dramatically (UCR went from having a population of about 10,000 students in 2000 to 18,608 undergraduates in fall 2015), many feel that class sizes have not appropriately accommodated the increasing student population. Since the rise in student population exceedingly outpaces rise in faculty, the student-to-professor ratio has suffered, especially in impacted and popular classes. In larger class sizes, a student cannot receive as much face time with a professor, since teaching has shifted to graduate students or part-time instructors; any face time that can be given to students is also cut due to the responsibilities tenure professors have to research at a UC.
In addition, students’ graduation rates are affected by the limited number of professors teaching classes. At times, students can only take critical major classes only once a year. At UCR, for example, all majors must take critical classes needed to complete their major, but some are only offered once a year. So, if a student fails one such course, they are immediately off track for their major.
These issues that students face as they pursue their education can be partly solved with the UCs hiring more professors. Accessible professors are essential to any college students’ education. While the UC system should not immediately start to employ a high amount of professors in one go, steps should be taken to assess the number of administrators. At least then, it can be justified on an economical level as to why the UCs do not need to maintain a high volume of administrators.