John DiGravio ’21 writes in the Wall Street Journal:

The economic fallout from the coronavirus is forcing colleges across the U.S. to cut costs and re-evaluate priorities. With so many students already burdened by rising tuition costs and student loans, colleges should look beyond the enrollment list to find savings. They can begin by rolling back decades of costly administrative expansion and replacing it with greater levels of faculty governance and student independence.

According to a 2014 report by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the number of nonacademic higher-education staff more than doubled between 1987 and 2012 at private nonprofit colleges, far outpacing growth in students. This has had an especially strong impact on small colleges such as my own, which have fewer students to bear the cost of retaining so many administrators.

Many of these new positions have taken over roles that once belonged to faculty and students. At Williams College, students used to gain valuable experience by managing student organizations, club sports and events. Now an office of professional staff oversees these activities. Colleges can cut costs by turning to professors—rather than expensive search committees—to fill essential senior administrative positions. Tasks like community building and management of student activities can be handed back to students. In addition to saving money, these adjustments would help restore the influence of faculty and students in running their own colleges.

Exactly right. Remember the Tablecloth Colors!

The Record — which has done an excellent job this spring — should do a series on this. How many more administrators does Williams have compared to 10 or 20 years ago? How much are they paid? EphBlog could help!

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