Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Bloat Gloat


On June 16, I reported that the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) organization has issued a report denying that public universities have been hiring too many administrators. While not mentioning it by name, the study rebuts a recent Goldwater Institute study showing the opposite — that growth in hiring administrative personnel has outpaced student and faculty increases.

Jay Greene, lead author of the Goldwater study, has just responded. As an aside, Greene observes that the SHEEO study must not have attracted much attention, since he hadn’t heard of it until very recently (from me, I think). It’s curious that the authors didn’t inform Greene about their paper (or even mention his by name), but perhaps they weren’t trying to show that Greene was wrong. Rather, Greene suggests that the SHEEO paper will be  “waved around in meetings of boards of trustees if they begin to ask about administrative bloat as a result of our report last year. “

As with so many things in higher education, it’s all about image. Having a document that says the right thing is more important than determining whether the facts themselves are correct and properly interpreted. Kind of like waving a college diploma when nobody knows what it really means.   


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