Some musing and links on the growth of administration relative to faculty to major universities.
The comments are pretty good too, and I have some sympathy for some of the counter-arguments regarding increases in IT personnel and the like, but it is worth remembering that back in the dim dark past departments used to have typing pools and most faculty at least shared a secretary. That staff is all pretty much gone now as faculty type their own papers, prepare their own mail, do their own travel planning, prepare their own travel reimbursements and all the rest. The main office in our department at Michigan has empty desks, and the only one with an administrative assistant is the chair. As to IT, it has probably grown, but even there some jobs have disappeared: no one deals with the output from the big communal fan fold printer any more for example.
More on point, idle hands in the upper reaches of the university administration are indeed the devil's workshop. Best to keep them few enough in number that hiring and tenure and construction keep them out of trouble.
Who was my favorite student this term?
10 months ago