By Lauren Santye and Jen Maldonado
As slipping enrollment leads Rider to look for budget cuts, the faculty union is presenting data that show administrative costs and numbers have gone up considerably more than those of professors.
Dr. Jeffrey Halpern, contract administrator for the American Association of University Professors, (AAUP), said faculty tends to get the blame for tuition increases.
“When people say the reason tuition went up was faculty salaries, I have to say that’s untrue,” he said.“Untrue first because faculty salaries only make up a small portion of all salaries, which only makes up a small portion of all costs. But also because our increases have been less than the increase in the rate of tuition. There are reasons tuition has to go up. The piece of your tuition that’s contributing to administrative, it’s grown, considerably.”
According to Halpern, administrative managerial and executive positions, which are the highest paid ones, have increased 34% from 2000-12, while faculty positions increased by 16%.
“The area with the highest salaries had the biggest increase,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s wrong. Administrative costs have gone up, there may be good reason for that, but that doesn’t change that it went up.”
Administrators and staff members now outnumber, by 2-to-1, the full-time faculty, whose salaries and benefits total only a third of all university salaries and benefits.
Last month Julie Karns, vice president for finance and treasurer, told The Rider News that among non-scholarship expenses, instruction is the largest expense. However, Halpern stressed that some people may have a misinterpretation of what exactly is in the instructional category.
“I think a lot of people think instructional is just faculty, but that’s not true,” he said. “A lot of things would be in the instructional budget; the provost’s salary is in the instructional budget, the cost of maintaining the classroom is in the instructional budget. It’s anything that relates to instruction.”
Cuts have been discussed related to course sections and part-time faculty, which Halpern feels are areas that should not be dealing with any sort of cuts.
“We think that people come to college to get an education,” Halpern said. “Fundamentally, that education is provided by the faculty. All the other stuff is great and may be necessary, but by itself, it’s not what makes an education. It’s faculty and courses.”
The idea that a decrease in enrollment requires offering fewer course sections is something Halpern feels is not as obvious as it’s being made out to be. In reality, he said, it’s a complex set of moving parts.
“The curriculum should be driven by what we believe the students need to be appropriately trained in that field,” Halpern said. “Not, ‘Oh well, it’s too expensive to offer that, so let’s just drop that course.’”
However, the provost, Dr. DonnaJean Fredeen, indicated that the numbers of course sections will remain about the same as the 2013-14 academic year.
The parameters her office sent to deans “included an assumption that enrollment would be flat, that there would be no decrease to the overall number of sections offered, and that the budget for adjunct overloads would also remain flat.”
She did say that she provided each college and school with an adjunct budget, with the understanding that the 2014-2015 schedule would remain within the bounds of that budget.
“Working on the assumption that enrollments will remain flat, if the School of Arts and Sciences must cut sections in some programs/departments to stay within the allocated Adjunct Budget, the decrease in enrollment will still allow students to create a schedule that meets the goal of timely progress towards graduation and availability of courses in the major, minor and core,” she said.
Halpern said the trend has been to hire staff far more readily than faculty.
“Every time we got an additional 10 or 11 students we ended up hiring an additional staff person. But we had to get either 32 or 38 additional students to hire a full-time faculty member.”
Each year, tuition increases, leaving the question of where all that money goes. Part of it goes to faculty and staff, who in 2005 were almost equal in their cost to the average student.
By 2011, however, according to Halpern, the amount each full-time student pays toward faculty salaries was $6,823, while almost $9,000 went to administrative salaries.
The AAUP collected this information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the primary source for data on colleges. These are the numbers the university reports to the federal Department of Education. Other data came from the campus directory and university enrollment records.
Dr. Michael Brogan of the Political Science Department took a decade of information and looked primarily at issues that involved the number of full-time faculty, number of administrators, and faculty wages. Brogan, formerly an administror who was Rider’s academic budget officer, is author of the book Modern Budget Forecasting in the American States.
“We’re not making up those numbers,” said Halpern, who emailed the results and charts to faculty members
Dec. 3.“They come from the university. The university expenses are complex. There are a lot of moving parts.”
He stressed the biggest goal in collecting the IPEDS data is to provide clarity to the Rider community.
“The AAUP has always followed closely the economic conditions of the university and has always attempted to set its agenda based on a careful analysis of the available data,” he said.
“This data is to help us to not only understand the university’s financial condition, but to also understand the factors that have contributed to that condition.”
The administration had no immediate comments on the AAUP data.