Administration within UW System Grew While Faculty Numbers Declined

Between 2014 and 2017, the overall number of faculty members at the state’s two-year and four-year campuses dropped by 491 positions. That works out to a decline of around 7.7 percent. But during the same timeframe the total number of employees categorized as “administration and academic leaders” grew by 53 positions for an increase of 3.5 percent.

The growth of administration within colleges and universities is not unique to Wisconsin but the state’s numbers exceed national trends. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) the number of employees categorized as “management” at public and private postsecondary institutions grew by just under 3 percent between 2013 and 2017. At the same time the number of faculty members nationwide remained relatively stable.

“It is true nationally there has been a long-term rise in administrative staff,” said Richard Vedder, professor emeritus of economics at Ohio State University who has studied the growth of administration in higher education. “Many people call it administrative bloat at colleges and universities, and I think Wisconsin is showing that too.”