Public Universities Spending More on Administrators

DETROIT — State universities in Michigan increased spending on administrators by 30 percent, on average, over the past five years, while faculty compensation went up an average of 22 percent, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The number of administrative jobs at public state universities grew by 19 percent from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010, on average, the Free Press reported, much higher than average increases in student enrollment or state funding. The report was based on data from the House Fiscal Agency, according to the Free Press.

University representatives told the Free Press that the extra spending on administration is needed to attract and retain top personnel and also that the number of credit hours has increased, even if enrollment has not, so more employees are needed.

“It's still a small number,” Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, told the Free Press, referring to the $260 million increase in administrative spending across 15 universities.

“When you add a rare-isotope machine” at Michigan State University, “you're going to be hiring” professionals to run it, Boulus told the Free Press.

But accounting professor Howard Bunsis, treasurer for the faculty union at Eastern Michigan University, told the Free Press, “There are too many administrators making too much money.”

“Universities are enlarging their payroll” while “at the same time consistently beating the drum that the state has to appropriate more money to them,” said Michael Van Beek, education policy director for the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “There's a lesson here in bureaucratic bloat.”

The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Digest.

Detroit Free Press, “Amid tougher times, spending on payroll soars at Michigan universities,” March 27, 2011

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “State College Money Should Follow Students, Not Lobbyists,” May 15, 2006