In study of college administrators, GW bucks national trend

The average number of university administrators nationwide has grown steadily over the past 14 years, but GW bucks the national trend, according to a report released by the Goldwater Institute.

While the number of administrators has grown at other colleges across the country, GW has decreased the number of administrators per 100 students by nearly 15 percent over the same 14-year time period, according to the study. The Goldwater Institute is a watchdog organization that promotes limited government.

The report compares the percent change in the number of full-time administrators per 100 students to the change in the number of professors, researchers or service employees per 100 students from 1993 to 2007.

Over the course of the 14-year time period, the number of administrators per 100 students nationwide increased by an average of 39 percent, while the number of professors and researchers per 100 students increased by an average of 18 percent.

GW’s numbers contrast greatly with the national averages.

At GW, the number of administrators per 100 students decreased by 14.6 percent, while the number of professors and researchers per 100 students decreased by 23.5 percent.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said despite the study’s findings, the faculty-student ratio at GW has remained consistent during the time period in question.

“At GW, there was a structural change at the University during the time period mentioned,” Sherrard said. “The sale of GW hospital in 1997 resulted in a reduction of GW employees on the University roster. The faculty-student ratio, on the other hand, has been consistent over the past decade.”

Dr. Ted Barnhill, professor of finance and director of the University’s Global and Entrepreneurial Finance Research Institute, said the questions raised by the study deserve careful analysis and public discussion.

“Assuming that the information and analysis is correct and comparable, it would seem GW has managed more efficiently than other universities over the period in question,” he said in an initial reaction to a synopsis of the findings. “This of course says nothing about the number and type of administrative, staff and instructional personnel that are needed to deliver high-quality educational and research services.”

New York University, one of GW’s market basket schools, also decreased the number of administrators during the time period of the study. The number of administrators per 100 students went down 26.4 percent. But Boston University, another GW market basket school, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 34 percent.

Both universities increased the number of professors and researchers per 100 students, by 14.4 and 33.7 percent, respectively.

Sherrard said the data reported by the study is difficult to compare from school to school without a complete explanation of what is being compared across different universities and time periods.

“It is often hard to compare statistics, such as those cited in the Goldwater report, among universities, because data collection methodologies have changed over time and are subject to interpretation by each institution providing the data,” Sherrard said.

The report used a sample size of 198 universities across the U.S. and based its conclusions on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Universities report information about enrollment, employment and spending to IPEDS each year. u

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