The Supposed Talents of College Administrators

The rapid rise in the formidable salaries of top college administrators is explained by what?  The people who receive these salaries are allegedly excellent in what regards?  And if indeed they are so vastly superior to mist of the rest of humanity, does that superiority translate into any growth in the cognitive skills and attitudes of college students?

This Institute for Policy Studies Report has implications far beyond its being a prime exhibit for the burgeoning income inequality in the general U.S. population.

1. Boards of Trustees are complicit in a failure to ask questions about the purpose of American higher education, the extent to which the credentials of applicants have any direct relevance to that purpose, and the wisdom of sustaining a wage structure that creates serf-like conditions for adjunct faculty who literally earn poverty-level wages. (The mean salary per course of such workers is approximately $3000 per course per semester or quarter.)

2. The gap between compensation levels of top college administrators and faculty reinforce the view that college faculty are just another constituency to be managed. That faculty are central to the mission of a college is now often but the stuff of ceremonial occasions when top administrators deign to address the faculty in tones of respect and praise. But the rest of the year, top university administrators tolerate faculty, persistently wishing for greater deference for whatever CV-enhancing reforms the public relations staff has generated.

3. The $1.2 trillion in student debt is but an abstraction to top administrators of universities. They bemoan the debt, while sponsoring activities that guarantee the growth of that debt. After all their children and grandchildren will never have to endure the insecurities and anxieties of beginning a career with decades of loan payments obscuring their  plans.

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