Administrators: Are They on the Dark Side or the Other Side?
Terri Givens wrote an enlightening article at Inside Higher Ed about the time she spent as an administrator. Earlier, I wrote about professors getting a bum rap, and I often direct my rage toward administrators, who earn far more money than professors do, at least according to Bain & Company’s recent study of UC Berkeley’s financial problems.
Givens, however, offers a perspective that makes me pause a little bit before railing against administrators:
People tend to assume that I am happier being a faculty member rather than an administrator – that I have returned from “the dark side.” Many of these people don’t seem to understand that this is a false dichotomy. I feel that it is a responsibility for those of us on the faculty with administrative skills to spend time in administration. There is no “dark side” if we consider that faculty as a whole are responsible for the governance of a university. We are all administrators in one way or another, whether you are a member of your department voting for changes to your graduate curriculum, or the president of a university.
More after the jump! Fantasy image of an administrative fatcat from Wikimedia Commons, public domain. (Actually a caricature of Leopold de Rothschild from Vanity Fair, 1884.)
Instead of complaining, faculty members should get involved, and Givens made the leap into becoming a decision-maker at her university. From the perspective of grad students looking for jobs, administrators blithely make decisions without regard to anything other than where their next raise is coming from, and I’m happy to hear from the other side.
However, I left a question for Givens in the comments regarding the pay difference between administrators and professors and whether or not administrators work harder. I’d also like to know why the number of administrators at schools like the UC has grown.
A commenter at Inside Higher Ed responded with some information regarding community colleges. “Disgruntled” writes, “the administrators almost never make as much as faculty with similar years of experience. Our deans make less than many of the people they supervise, and they pick up much of the work our faculty refuse to do without additional stipends …”
I recommend reading the full comment, and it’s wonderful to have the perspective. Dear readers—have any of you worked as an administrator or with an administrator? What was your experience of the work and of the salary? Are we being too harsh, or our critiques of administrative bloat at the university justified?
Recovering Administrator [Inside Higher Ed]