Report raises questions on administrative bloat

Stephanie Sansoucy

An Appalachian chapter of the national American Association of University Professors recently revised a report detailing what the AAUP called an excessive growth of executive level administration.

Authors of the report include Appalachian State University professors Sheila Phipps, Gregory Reck and Jeffrey Bortz.

After the report was discussed at a recent faculty senate meeting, administration raised questions about the validity of the report.

Vice Provost Timothy Burwell said that authors of the report were asking the right questions, but were going about it in the wrong way.

The report mentions that the rise in administrative costs is a national problem. University faculty positions have increased by 50 percent over the past 40 years, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Burwell said one of the biggest issues of the report was how the authors chose to measure administrative bloat, and that report authors looked at a limited range of administrative positions.

The report limits its research to executive level administrative positions.

Reck said changes were made to the preliminary report after the committee met with representatives of the administration and received information that they previously did not have access to.

The report states that its purpose is to examine data concerning the expansion of executive administrative positions at Appalachian State University over the past two decades. The report lists administrative positions that have “Chancellor” or “Provost” in their title, and shows how their salaries compare to the same positions in 2011-2012.

“Since 1990, the number of executive administrative positions through 2013 increased 75 [percent], far outpacing the 47 [percent] growth in full-time faculty and the 45 [percent] growth in student enrollment,” according to the report.

Reck said the authors of the report are concerned with administration creating four new executive-level administrative positions in the past two years at a time of financial hardship.

“These positions carry costs that go well beyond the salaries of the individuals themselves,” Reck said.

Burwell said there are many changes in the past 20 years that have created a need for administrative changes.

The report also made it known that the authors had no ill will towards the university, but wanted the institution to be better served by marshalling a greater percentage of its resources toward teaching and research.

Reck said that overall, it is the interpretation of the report’s facts that is different between the AAUP and the administration.

“There should be real concern at ASU about the inordinate increase in executive administrative positions and costs at a time when state financial support is declining dramatically,” according to the report.

Story: NICOLE BELLAMY, Intern News Reporter