- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

Stop Hiring Bureaucrats

This is absurd.

The College seeks a Director to head its newly centralized Office of Communications. Reporting to the Assistant to the President for Public Affairs, the Director will play a key and collaborative role in developing a plan for the College’s main communications, external and internal, and lead a team of nine staff in the plan’s implementation. The goal will be to use a variety of media, especially digital ones, to deepen engagement with the College by all its constituencies.

Williams should stop hiring bureaucrats. We have too many as it is. It is not clear that Williams even needs an “Office of Communications” and, to the extent that we do, Jim Kolesar ’74 (and others who currently work for him) is enough.

1) Chad Orzel ’93 writes:

[E]veryone points to an explosion in administrators, while not really accounting for the fact that “administrative staff” includes a lot of critical support staff– most IT departments are classified as administration, for example, as are all the student support services most colleges offer these days– counseling centers, multicultural coordinators, the people who keep track of students with learning disabilities, etc. It’s not all fat salaries for vice presidents– a lot of the administrative budget is stuff that people who complain about “bloat” would hate to lost.

Not me. You could get rid of 90% of the non-faculty positions (including this one) that Williams has added in the last 15 years without meaningfully impacting the quality of a Williams education. The vast majority of these jobs don’t contribute anything useful to Williams, even though the people in them are smart and hard-working. To the extent that certain positions are necessary, the faculty ought to fill them as part of their community service.

2) It just 6 months ago that Williams instituted a (generous?) early retirement program. What is the point of spending all the money necessary to convince someone like (the wonderful) Jo Proctor to retire early if you are just going to hire a new person to take her place (more or less)?

3) If Williams were still drowning in a purple river of moola, then wasteful hiring would be less problematic. But Williams has money problems. Our financial aid is no longer as generous as Amherst/Pomona/Swarthmore (much less Harvard/Yale/Princeton). We closed two dining halls, thereby generating significant problems for students simply looking to have dinner. We should spend money on what matters (financial aid, student experience) and not on what doesn’t.

4) The Trustees should not, obviously, be micro-managing individual hiring decisions at Williams. If President Falk thinks that a new “Office of Communications” is just what Williams needs then, obviously, he deserves the freedom to create and staff it. Yet the Trustees have a responsibility to keep an eye on the big picture. Too many (non-faculty) people work at Williams.. The Trustees should demand that, at a minimum, Williams not increase its total employee count. Better would be to (slowly) cut the staff back to 650 people. If Williams was the #1 college in the country in 1999-2000 with 650 non-faculty staff, then we only need 650 today.