Columbia has more full-time employees than undergrads, including an Earth Observatory DEI director

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The College Fix on May 17, 2024 and is crossposted here with permission.

Columbia University’s Earth Observatory has its own DEI director and two supporting administrators as part of its 6,756 administrator army.

The office currently includes Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Vicki Ferrini, Senior Manager for Academic Affairs Nicole deRoberts, and Deputy Director David Goldberg.

They are just three of the 9,856 full-time employees at Columbia University, compared to 8,262 full-time undergraduate students. This works out to 1,602 more full-time workers than undergrad students, according to a College Fix analysis.

“The Office of Academic Affairs & Diversity at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory…is committed to fostering a diverse, vibrant, and inclusive work environment,” its website states.

“We have failed science and ourselves over the last half century by unintentionally and/or intentionally excluding representative numbers of Black people, and other people of color, from our ranks,” a statement reads.

“A renewed and effective dedication to anti-racist practices is imperative to the operation of a just institution and our ability to undertake the most creative, innovative, salient, and beneficial research,” the department wrote in June 2021.

The Fix analysis looked at the 2022-23 school year, the latest year information is available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The gap has grown from a decade ago. In the 2013-14 school year, there were 996 more full-time employees than undergraduate students. However, there were 785 more full-time employees in the 2017-18 school year, according to IPEDS data.

The difference is driven largely by the 6,756 administrators. There are 818 administrators for every 1,000 students, or roughly two administrators for every three students.

This includes student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, and legal and other non-academic departments.

Specifically, there were 2,467 “management” employees in the 2022-23 school year, making an average salary of $128,298 per year.

These workers were supported by 1,341 “office and administrative support” employees making an average yearly salary of $73,661.

Columbia University’s Director of Communications for Media Relations Samantha Slater and Vice President of Communications Ben Chang did not respond to two emailed requests for comment in the past month. The Fix asked what specifically the Earth Observatory DEI team does and for further insights on employee headcount.

The university is “somewhat worse” when it comes to “administrative/non-faculty bloat” than other top 50 universities according to Paul Weinstein, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. He also worked in the Clinton White House and teaches management courses at Johns Hopkins University.

He shared an August 2023 study he did on “administrative bloat at colleges.”

“The ratio is 1 non-faculty employee for every 3 students compared to 1 faculty for every 18 students,” Weinstein told The Fix via email. He used total student enrollment compared to faculty and non-faculty.

Asked for a reasonable ratio, Weinstein said: “I would argue [the] ratio of students to faculty compared to students per administrators should be (at a minimum) equal. That doesn’t mean increasing faculty, but rather cutting administrative and other non-faculty slots to help reduce tuition.”

Some of the hiring is due to external pressure, Weinstein said.

“The rise in administrative bloat is partially due to government regulations, but it is also the result of demands made by accreditors (which in most cases do nothing to improve the quality of student education), the demands of students for clubs, services, etc., and the tendency of administrators to solve problems by hiring more administrators.”

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  • Matt Lamb

    Matt Lamb is Associate Editor of The College Fix. He previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.

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2 thoughts on “Columbia has more full-time employees than undergrads, including an Earth Observatory DEI director

  1. “And what exactly are the “representative numbers … supposed to be”

    It depends if you are a Marxist or not — it’s the Marxist who believes in social planning and people being told what their occupations shall be while some of us still believe in free will and individual liberty, not to mention merit and aptitude. An athletic young man who really doesn’t want to sit behind a desk all day will be freaking miserable and probably not very good in science of this sort. Yes, Harvard has a windsurfing astrophysicist but she has a passion about astrophysics.

    Now you want to talk about rappelling off of cliffs to look for evidence of magnetic polar inversions, that’s a different type of person…

    However there *is* a legitimate complaint that no one is willing to talk about — the fact that Black K-12 basically sucks. That much of K-12 sucks and it’s the kids whose parents pay for private tutoring instead of trips to Disneyland that are the ones actually prepared to enter the STEM fields. Parents who value education and who invest family resources in it — and not other things.

    There is a lot of soft bigotry of low expectations — imagine what would happen if we actually cleaned up Black K-12 and some fall there were a whole bunch of well-qualified Black freshmen showing up on campus. What would all the DIE advocates ever do? HOW could they justify their jobs if the only two questions these Black students were asking were (a) where is the campus bookstore and (b) where are my classes held?

    K-12 schools that suck (and not for a lack of money) is the real problem and no one is willing to admit it because imagine what would happen if we ever fixed it….

    But then again the Marxists wouldn’t be happy because they want to have the social planning and compel people to do what they demand as opposed to what they want. While we are willing to tell the scientist willing to rappell off the cliff to go do it — with the added addendum that we’d really prefer not to do so ourselves, no matter how important it is that we learn about magnetic polar inversions.

  2. “We have failed science and ourselves over the last half century by unintentionally and/or intentionally excluding representative numbers of Black people, and other people of color, from our ranks,”

    As usual with the marxist left, no actual evidence of anyone being denied employment in a STEM field is presented. None required. Just make the claim and we’re all supposed to nod our collective heads in agreement.

    And while we’re at it, what exactly are the “representive number of blacks and other colored people (as opposed to the grammatically incorrect ‘people of color’) supposed to be? I’d like to know the actual number please.

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