Faculty Bewildered as Administrators Siphon Off Money

“Inside Higher Ed” reports that Dartmouth College, facing a $100 million budget gap, is taking more funds from endowed chairs and endowed programs to help pay for administrative costs, alarming faculty, some of whom think the move is unethical.

Here is a first reaction to this news: we still think faculty run our institutions, but I’m not sure that is correct any more. Administrations run them, and more and more we are seeing the bureaucracies siphoning off funds from academic enterprises, including faculties.  At almost every school, bureaucratic spending has grown much faster over the past decade than spending on faculty salaries and the like.  There are several reasons for that, I think, but the big point is that the balance of power has shifted.  One thing that struck me on the Dartmouth experience was how much support we had from many faculty members, even those who disliked our politics.  What they liked was that we were railing against the proliferation of bureaucracy and the diversion of resources from the classroom. In many ways the modern academy has become much like the Washington administrative state: the bureaucracy/adminisration has grown in size and power and the legislature/faculty has shrunk. Of course the people (the students) become more and more irrelevant!

Todd J. Zywicki

Todd J. Zywicki, a professor at George Mason Law School and a regular blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy, served as a trustee at Dartmouth from 2005 to 2009.

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