Administrative positions at UK grow faster than faculty

employment overall at UK is up 13 percent

lblackford@herald-leader.comFebruary 27, 2011 

At the University of Kentucky, the number of teaching faculty members has increased by 18 percent since 2001.

That's not much, however, compared to members of the administration.

According to UK officials, the administrative staff at the executive and managerial level has grown 32 percent in the same 10-year period.

Officials said the overall increase of 124 positions is because of several factors:

■ Professors who, as department chairs, spend more than 50 percent of their time on administration. This increased by 53.

■ Another 47 administrators were added to support growth at the Medical Center, including 10 at Good Samaritan.

■ Posts have been created to support academic priorities, officials say, including three associate provosts in educational partnerships, faculty affairs and international programs; new positions for associate deans for research and the directors of new centers, including the Center for the Study of Violence Against Women, and new positions in enrollment management and undergraduate education.

UK has been accused frequently of being top-heavy. In fact, it falls somewhat behind the national average, according to a report from the Goldwater Institute.

In "Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education," author Jay Greene found that between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students at America's leading universities grew by 39 percent, while the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service grew by 18 percent.

The numbers don't surprise Alice Christ, a faculty member in art history who has taught at UK since 1987.

"We see proliferating administration every day," she said. "I think what the administration has done is essentially replaced a collaborative system of shared governance with an administrative apparatus."

Christ said that many colleges have added more people to do fund-raising and public relations, rather than professors to teach.

"I'm not convinced it's beneficial for the core mission of education at UK," she said.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the overall employment at UK has grown by 13 percent in the past several years, which is a good thing for the local economy.

"More specifically, the growth at the university in the last 10 years has been driven by the mission to become a Top 20 public research institution," Blanton said. "As a result, investments in hiring have been focused on support for teaching, support for research and support for health care — all directly tied to the goals of the Top 20 Business Plan, which call for educating and graduating more Kentuckians and conducting research and providing health care that makes the lives of people in this state better."

Blanton also said that much of the administrative growth is tied to the medical center, which is self-supporting and does not use UK's general fund dollars.

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