Top-level employees swell ranks, draw fire

The percentage of University administrative employees has risen, but that increase includes administrative clerics.

by Jessica Weaver

The percentage of administrative employees at the University doubled over the last 10 years, according to University documents.

Although a union leader said this increase raises questions about the University’s priorities, the University cites a variety of reasons for this increase, including changing government regulations and increased grant money receipts.

A document from Institutional Research and Reporting shows the percentage of University administrative employees rose from 4.5 percent in 1993 to 9 percent in 2003.

At a Sept. 30 pro-union rally, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3800 President Phyllis Walker said the numbers indicate the University prioritized hiring administrators.

Administrative positions include academic administrators such as the president, vice president, chancellor, deans, provosts and department heads. Assistants to these positions can also be considered administrative.

However, Carol Carrier, University vice president for human resources, said administrative positions can also include clerical workers related to administrative projects. For example, a professor receiving grant money would have to hire clerical workers to do administrative work for the grant.

“That helps explain why the positions have increased, because the University has been so successful at getting grant money,” Carrier said.

As one of the nation’s top 30 research institutions, the University has received an increasing amount of grant money in the last 15 years. Awards processed increased by 24.7 percent from 1999-2000, according to the Office of Oversight, Analysis and Reporting.

In 1993, the University processed 3,005 awards amounting to $263,605. By 2002, the University had processed 205 more awards, for a total of $526,642.

Winifred Ann Schumi, director of the Office of Oversight, Analysis and Reporting, said the University has received more awards over the last 10 years.

Professors outside the University said hiring more employees is typical when universities receive grant money.

Gundars Kaupins, management professor at Boise State University, said it is particularly true if the grant is in the six-figure range.

Kaupins said the positions will remain as long as the grant money lasts, though they are not guaranteed for the long term.

Carrier also said top administrators are paid competitive salaries to keep the University on par with other top institutions.

“We try to stay competitive, but that doesn’t mean we lead the pack,” Carrier said.

In addition to grants, Carrier said, the University increased administrative positions to help comply with changing federal and state requirements.