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Paul’s Questions on Faculty Growth III

Professor Darel Paul has some questions about the College’s claims about faculty/staff growth since 2002. Let’s spend 3 days answering them. Today is Day 3.

I can say definitively that the faculty of the Political Science Department has not grown 31% since 2002. In fact, since the 2002-03 academic year it has grown either 7% (# of tenured and tenure-track professors) or 0% (# of tenured, tenure-track, and visiting professors, plus visiting fellows) depending on your definition of faculty.

Can we confirm Professor Paul’s numbers? From the 2002–2003 course catalog (pdf), we have:

ps2002

I count 20 faculty members: 15 tenured/tenure-track (TTT) and 5 other. Compare that to 2016–2017 (pdf):

ps2016

I count 19 faculty members: 16 TTT and 3 others. That sure doesn’t look like the 31% faculty growth that the College is bragging about. Instead, in Political Science at least, there has been a 5% drop in faculty. Comments:

1) Not sure why Professor Paul sees total political science faculty as steady whereas I see a 5% drop. Suggestions?

2) Notice how top-heavy (old?) the Political Science Department has become. We have gone from 7 to 10 full professors. This is consistent with the analysis we looked at last winter. For fun, we might use that code department-by-department. I would not be surprised if the average age of faculty members in political science has increased from 45 to 50 since 2002. Not that there is anything wrong with being 50!

3) The basic story is the same as it has been for 50 years. Recall my rants from 6 years ago (start here, finish there). Key point:

EphBlog’s Maxim #6: Every hire of a senior administrator weakens faculty governance.

If Professor Paul and other faculty members want to truly “govern” Williams than they should draw a line in the sand. No increases in senior staff! My guess is that they don’t truly care. They like to complain and whine (nothing wrong with that!) but, when push comes to shove, they will roll over for this increase just liked they rolled over for the hiring of Steve Klass, Collette Chilton, Mike Reed and on and on.

4) Should we spend more time on this topic?

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Paul’s Questions on Faculty Growth II

Professor Darel Paul has some questions about the College’s claims about faculty/staff growth since 2002. Let’s spend 3 days answering them. Today is Day 2.

How are faculty defined here? Does it include visiting faculty? Visiting fellows, lecturers, and teaching associates who frequently teach only part-time?

My experience with the (highly competent!) people in the Administration who keep track of this data — folks like Courtney Wade, James Cart ’05 and John Gerry — is that there are sensible answers to Paul’s questions. The Administration needs to answer all sorts of related queries from various outside organizations — US News, the NCAA, the US Government — so it keeps careful track of these details. Perhaps the College could clarify for Paul?

Although there nothing wrong with diving into these details, they miss the central debate: Should the faculty have more or less control over what happens at Williams? The major move over the last 50 years — perhaps accelerating during the Falk administration? — has been to make the faculty less powerful relative to the administration/president. The Record‘s reporting is particularly blind to this dynamic. (Actually, the whole article deserves a thorough fisking. Would readers be interested?) Consider just one sentence:

In addition, faculty governance will remain intact because the new dean will report to the provost, a member of the faculty

Faculty governance at Williams is about as intact as Iraqi sovereignty. Just because someone reports to some other person does not necessarily make the reported-to more powerful than the reportee, especially when the provosts come-and-go while the senior staff stays put. (Essay assignment: Compare “faculty governance at Williams” with Yes, Minister.)

Ignore the new position and consider the reality of the power wielded by, say, Steve Klass, vice president for campus life. He gets paid 100% more than the typical faculty member at Williams. He has had orders of magnitude more conversations with Adam Falk (and powerful trustees) than even the most senior of Williams faculty. (Don’t believe me? Ask them!). In theory, Williams has “faculty governance” because Klass “reports” to Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom. But does he really? Does she evaluate his work? Have a meaningful say in his compensation? I have my doubts.

But, as always, the dollars tell the tale. Steve Klass was paid (pdf) a total of $367,428 in fiscal year 2014. Then Dean of the College Sarah Bolton was paid $278,656. Who do you think reports to whom in that relationship?

If the Record were a competent paper, it would do a story about who is paid how much at Williams. There is a lot to write about!

UPDATE: A reader points out that Klass does not now report to the Dean of the College. In fact, he has always reported directly to the president, first Schapiro and now Falk. Of course, this makes claims about “faculty governance” at Williams even weaker! The College has a bunch (5? 10? 15?) of well-paid professionals who report to no member of the faculty other than the president. This was not the case 30 years ago . . .

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Paul’s Questions on Faculty Growth I

Professor Darel Paul has some questions about the College’s claims about faculty/staff growth since 2002. Let’s spend 3 days answering them. Today is Day 1.

It would be nice to see comparisons of the numbers of full-time equivalent faculty to full-time equivalent senior staff over the 2002-2016 period. I donโ€™t think anyone suspects the number of custodians or dining service workers per student is ballooning across American higher education.

Indeed! Faculty like Paul are not overly concerned about the number of custodians that Williams employs. They are concerned about the ranks of senior staff. The trick (?) that the College pulls is to mix the senior hires — like the proposed Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid — in with the custodians and use the overall total as the divisor.

Doing some math, we can calculate that the college increased the faculty by 81 since 2002 and the staff by 138. So, a different (better?) summary would be that staff has grown 70% more ((138 – 81)/81) than faculty. It makes less (?) sense to divide both these numbers by their starting values since what we really care about is the absolute level of growth. Every new staff member hired means that we can hire one less new faculty member. Those 138 staff could have been, say, 100 new faculty members (given that faculty members make, on average, more than staff).

Given that scores of faculty members (like Paul) object to this trend, why is it continuing? Why is Williams about to add to its bureaucracy even though, by all accounts, the current heads of admissions (Nesbit) and financial aid (Boyer) do a fine job?

1) Bureaucracies always grow. This is not a Williams-specific phenomenon or even just a high education phenomenon. This happens everywhere. Fighting this tendency would be my number one priority if I were a Williams trustee. The easiest way to fight it would be to institute a cap on the total number of employees. Williams has 1204 (!) faculty and staff. That is more than enough!

2) Adam Falk wants to hire more senior administrators. He did this when he started (Steve Klass, Fred Puddester, Angela Shaeffer and so on). He has promoted these people, slowly giving them more and more power, relative to the faculty. Creating a new position like Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid is just another step down that road.

UPDATE: A reader points out that this very sloppy, for several reasons. First, Steve Klass was already at Williams. Falk did not hire him. Second, it is, at least, disputable whether or not the power of the senior staff has grown during Falk’s tenure. Puddester does, more or less, what Helen Oullette used to do. Schaefer was a replacement, first for Jo Proctor (who EphBlog misses!) and now for Jim Kolesar. Fair points!

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