Editor, The Messenger:
A budget crisis is a complicated issue with multiple causalities contributing to fiscal hardship. The Ohio University administration should have forecast leaner times predicted by the changing high school demographics and created a balanced budget to sustain the essential academic programs. These decisions require careful thought about the contribution of different components of the workforce and strategic staffing decisions to meet institution’s mission.
Recently the Ohio University administration has targeted faculty and classified staff, custodians, for reduction in the workforce. However, since 2011 the administrative workforce has grown at Ohio University from 1,006 to 1,375. Nine years ago, the outlook was promising, with record and increasing enrollment, but as predicted, that peaked three years ago and a decrease in enrollment led to significant revenue loss. Budget cuts have resulted in a faculty hiring freeze, instructional faculty layoffs, and a voluntary separation offer for tenure-track faculty.
However, in the last year 156 administrative positions were filled in the university with an annualized salary of $10.2 million and in the previous year 145 administration positions were filled with an annualized salary of $9.6 million.
The number of administrative hires seem astounding and suggests the administration does not recognize their contribution to the current “budget crisis” and continues to create and hire new administrative positions during a time when careful scrutiny should be applied.
Nonetheless, the OU administration continues to target the reducing faculty as the solution to its fiscal problems while at the same time hires more administrative positions (the university currently advertises 26 new administrative and no faculty positions). This hiring trend for administrative positions needs be reversed to preserve Ohio University academic mission. Further reductions in the number of faculty will derail the quality of educational experience for students at Ohio University.
Admittedly, some of these administrative positions are necessary for the overall function of the university, but many administrative positions appear redundant, extraneous, and impulsive; particularly given the review process that is applied to faculty positions.
Hiring and replacing faculty requires a detailed proposal from the department justifying the instructional and scholarly needs. It then is placed in a competitive pool within its academic unit (college), and must be approved by the Dean and ultimately the Provost before it is funded.
I suggest OU implement a similar scrutiny for administrative positions, and faculty should have input and a vote in the decision to fill an administrative position.
Professor in Biological Sciences at Ohio University