Thursday, December 19, 2013

About faculty participation in university administration

A major difference between American and other universities is the professionalization of their administration. Typically, they are managed by former faculty who have specialized in higher education administration, and what is become more and more frequent, by administrators who have never been academics. While the result are universities that put in my opinion excessive emphasis on non-academic endeavors like athletics, students living and other student entertainment, there is little doubt that the academics are also in better shape than elsewhere. When faculty are in charge, I suppose there is too much rent seeking. It would be good, though, to have this formalized in some way for better analysis.

Kathleen Carroll, Lisa Dickson and Jane Ruseski build a model of university administration where the extend of faculty involvement may vary exogenously. The model is rather trivial and does not deliver unexpected results, the more faculty participate, the more academic affairs get priority, and this is social optimal if there are externalities from academics to non-academics. What would have really made the paper interesting is to put the model to the data and actually provide some quantification of effects. How much does faculty participation matter? What is the size of cross-effects between academics and non-academics? How big should the administration be? Too bad this paper was only about trivial theory.

1 comment:

David Stern said...

US universities seem to have a lot of faculty participation compared to Australian ones. Most leaders in the Australian system (Deans, VC, pro-VC) are academics but it is very top down. For example, in terms of hiring new academics the School Director makes the decision whereas in the US the tenured faculty vote on this.