Kinjo Kiema: Though administrative growth may be justified, GW fails to show full picture

Tuition isn’t the only thing that has been growing steadily at GW. Over the past decade, the amount of administrative hires has dramatically increased.

Since 2004, the number of administrators at GW has swelled 44 percent, while faculty and other staff hires have remained relatively stable. This growth includes positions like provosts, vice presidents and deans, whose salaries and benefits make up a significant portion of the University’s operating budget.

Before we jump to conclusions, let’s take a step back. Adding all these new administrative positions is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a need for more campus leaders are typically borne out of student demands for more services.

But this only illustrates the University’s responsibility to collect better data and be more transparent about hiring trends and costs. Because of a lack of research – or lack of openness – we can’t pinpoint exactly which offices have accelerated the growth.

In the past year, Faculty Senate members have called for a review of the size and cost of the University’s administration, broken down by offices and departments. But nine months after the provost’s office said they would pursue the study, it has not gives updates on the cost of our rapidly growing bureaucracy.

We see this time after time when it comes to GW’s spending. Because colleges and offices are cordoned off from each other, we can never get a full picture of the University’s finances. It all ends up mashed together afterward in a financial report that lacks coherent line-item details.

That gives us reason to be skeptical of University spending. But in the case of administrative growth, the University’s lack of openness perpetuates that skepticism – maybe unjustly.

Administrative growth happens for a reason. As we attempt to secure more federal grants and expand specific academic programs, staff are needed to fill top positions. The salaries for all these people certainly take up a large chunk of our operating budget.

In the past, when colleges were less competitive – thought of as academic institutions and nothing more – professors were able to wear many hats, functioning not only as teachers, but as career advisers and informal counselors themselves.

But now, the burden on colleges to provide more than just a top notch education is especially high. That means that more administrators are hired to oversee departments like the University Counseling Center and advising offices as they grow.

Students argue that colleges need to improve the student experience – and that means more people to manage it.

Growing administrative offices isn’t a predicament only GW faces. In fact there is a national trend of building bureaucracy at colleges and universities across the country. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found ties between the rise in the number of administrators and the rise of tuition.

It seems simple: A rise in spending on management positions must be contributing to the increasing price of a GW education. However, at the University, these dots can’t be connected so easily – no University review has been effectively completed about the consequences of this increase in administrative roles, so this hypothesis cannot be proven correct.

We need to understand what proportions of the budget are increasing due to hiring administrative staff, so we can figure out if it is a problem.

A lack of oversight and accountability means we don’t truly know whether administrative hires were just. If we investigate the costs associated with adding more bureaucracy more deeply, then we can hopefully start to reverse the trend and cut costs for students.

Kinjo Kiema is a freshman majoring in political communication.

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