Saturday, June 21, 2014

Those who can't teach, administer

Indira Samarasekera, the president of the University of Alberta, is about to leave her job. It pays roughly half a million Canadian dollars, which is equivalent to about 4 full professor salaries. That's why 56 Canadian professors applied as groups of 4 to replace Samarasekera. Their stunt, led by the "gang of four" pictured above, was designed to call attention to the outrageous pay disparities between university administrators and professors, and it worked. Their story caught the attention of the Canadian media, and revealed one major failure mode in today's higher education system. 

Do we really need administrators? Universities can't get by with just instructors--granted. We definitely need non-academic workers. We especially need secretaries. They're the ones that make universities, firms and other organizations run. I'm prejudiced here: I used to be one. And we need people to do IT, to help with our computer miseries. And we need people to maintain parking and security, to do catering and food services, and to maintain the grounds and buildings. And they should be paid a lot more.

But do we need administrators--paid at 4 times the salary of full professors? And 10 times the salary of secretaries?

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