A better Path Forward: How Corporate Culture Threatens the Quality of Higher Education and What We Can Do to Resist its Encroachment on our Campuses

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A Better Path Forward: How Corporate Culture Threatens the Quality of Higher Education and What We Can Do to Resist its Encroachment on our Campuses

  • Rudy Fichtenbaum, President


  • Embracing the Corporate Model
  • Consequences
  • How to Fight Back

The Corporate Model

You know you have the corporate model when:

    • Administrators & politicians talk about faculty productivity
    • Universities & colleges care more about bond ratings than the quality of education they offer students
    • Administrators make unilateral changes in curriculum and academic policies

You know you have the corporate model when:

    • You have “merit” pay
    • Promotion and pay for faculty depend on student evaluations
    • Students are your customers
    • The market is used to explain why faculty in some disciplines earn significantly more than faculty in other disciplines.

You know you have the corporate model when:

    • The majority of faculty have no job security, few benefits, and are largely excluded from the decision making process on campus
    • Your administration tries to break your union
    • Your budget system turns each of your colleges into profit centers so faculty will be more entrepreneurial
    • College presidents and politicians call for the creation of “enterprise universities” to complete the privatization of public higher education

You know you have the corporate model when:

    • Grades Out, Badges In
    • “Grades are broken. Students grub for them, pick classes where good ones come easily, and otherwise hustle to win the highest scores for the least learning. As a result, college grades are inflated to the point of meaninglessness—especially to employers who want to know which diploma-holder is best qualified for their jobs.
    • That's a viewpoint driving experiments in education badges. Offered mostly by online start-ups, the badges are modeled on the brightly colored patches on Boy Scout uniforms but are inspired primarily by video games…”

You know you have the corporate model when:

    • “Professors Compete for Bonuses Based on Student Evaluations”
    • “Some faculty members at Texas A&M University will each be $10,000 richer next month, and they will have their students to thank. The university system is awarding bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to faculty members who received the highest grades on end-of-semester student evaluations.
    • Oklahoma awards $5,000 to $10,000 to participating engineering professors who score in the top 5 percent on their semester-end student evaluations. Those who score in the next 15 percent receive half those amounts. Similar bonuses are offered for top-rated business professors.”

The Corporate Model

  • Recently David Schultz published a noteworthy essay in Logos entitled “The Rise and Demise of Neo-Liberal University: The Collapsing Business Plan of American Higher Education.”
  • Two models of higher education since the end of WW II:
    • The Dewey model, in which public institutions were central, and institutions promoted a Jeffersonian view of higher education, recognizing an educated citizenry as central to democracy.
    • The Corporate University, with top-down authority with administrators and corporate-led boards displacing traditional faculty governance. Decision-making focuses on increased revenue, using certain programs as cash cows, while designing others to attract private/corporate donations.

The Corporate University

  • “Nationwide patterns since 1980 show that the context has transformed through universities’ increasing use of a corporate business model that goes well beyond Justice Brennan’s observation in Yeshiva that universities have become ‘big business.’ ”
    • —Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

The Corporate Model

  • “Expansion of the administrative hierarchy, which exercises greater unilateral authority over academic affairs.”
  • “University administrators increasingly are making decisions in response to external market concerns, rather than consulting with, relying on, or following faculty recommendations.”
  • “Decision-making is increasingly made unilaterally by high-level administrators who are driven by external market factors in setting and implementing policy on such issues as program development or discontinuance, student admissions, tuition hikes, and university-industry relationships.”
    • —Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

The Corporate Model

  • “Faculty have experienced a continually shrinking scope of influence over academic matters…Faculty loss of influence over programmatic and other academic matters reduces faculty influence even in their individual academic course content and research.”
    • —Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

The Corporate Model

  • There “are embedded structural changes that favor top-down decision-making authority by university administrators responding to market concerns, rather than a collegial process of consultation and consensus-building over academic affairs…“One outcome of this institutional shift is a growing conflict between university administrations and faculty over unilateral actions taken by administrators either without consultation with faculty or overriding faculty governance bodies’ recommendations.”
    • —Point Park University Amicus Brief for the AAUP

How Many Administrators Does it Take to Run this Place?

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education Lists 289 types of Senior Executives and Chief Functional Officers


  • “The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named administratium, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called morons. Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with.”


  • “According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second. Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.”


  • “Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.”
  • “Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.”
    • —William DeBuvitz The Physics Teacher January 1989

Kent State University

Division of Business and Finance

  • 8/10/2012

Responding to the Market: What Do Administrators Get Paid

  • E. Gordon Gee President, Ohio State University, October 2007–Present
    • Total Compensation (2011): $1,992,221
    • “Since returning to Columbus as the university’s president in October 2007, the 68-year-old Gee has pulled in $8.6 million in salary and compensation, making him the highest paid CEO of a public university in the country.”
    • “But his expenses—hidden among hard-to-get records that the university took nearly a year to release—tally nearly as much: $7.7 million.”
    • “Those records show Gee stays in luxury hotels, dines at country clubs and swank restaurants, throws lavish parties, flies on private jets and hands out thousands of gifts—all at public expense.”
    • Source: Chronicle of Higher Education & Dayton Daily News

Compensation for Presidents

  • Name
  • Total Compensation
  • Position
  • E. Gordon Gee
  • $1,992,221
  • Ohio State University
  • Michael D. McKinney
  • $1,966,347
  • (Partial year)
  • Texas A&M University system
  • Graham B. Spanier
  • $1,068,763
  • Pennsylvania State University at University Park
  • Lee T. Todd Jr.
  • $972,106
  • University of Kentucky
  • Mary Sue Coleman
  • $845,105
  • University of Michigan system
  • Kent R. Hance
  • $757,740
  • Francisco G. Cigarroa
  • $751,680
  • University of Texas system
  • Robert H. Bruininks
  • $747,955
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • John C. Hitt
  • $741,500
  • University of Central Florida
  • Charles W. Steger
  • $738,603
  • Virginia Tech

Salaries for Administrators

  • Senior executives and chief functional officers
  • Doctoral
  • Chief executive of system/district
  • $480,000
  • Executive assistant/chief of staff for chief executive of system/district
  • $154,800
  • Chief executive of single institution
  • $392,150
  • Executive assistant to chief executive of single institution
  • $130,391
  • Executive vice president/vice chancellor
  • $302,500
  • Secretary of institution
  • $168,830
  • Chief academic-affairs officer and provost
  • $281,162
  • Chief research officer
  • $234,600
  • Chief technology-transfer officer
  • $165,600
  • Chief business officer
  • $236,022
  • Chief administration officer
  • $210,810
  • Chief financial officer
  • $210,250
  • Chief investment officer
  • $218,000
  • Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

More Salaries for Administrators

  • Senior executives and chief functional officers
  • Doctoral
  • Chief planning officer
  • $154,898
  • Chief budget officer
  • $131,064
  • Chief planning and budget officer
  • $173,102
  • Chief legal-affairs officer
  • $198,005
  • Chief human-resources officer
  • $154,067
  • Chief information officer
  • $200,000
  • Chief physical-plant/facilities officer
  • $155,000
  • Chief accounting officer/comptroller
  • $139,966
  • $541,419
  • Chief administrator, hospital/medical center
  • $566,733
  • Chief student-affairs/life officer
  • $194,056
  • Chief admissions officer
  • $112,217
  • Chief enrollment-management officer
  • $160,750
  • Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Even More Salaries for Administrators

  • Senior executives and chief functional officers
  • Doctoral
  • Chief external-affairs officer
  • $210,000
  • Chief development officer
  • $239,120
  • Chief public-relations officer
  • $162,400
  • Chief development and public-relations officer
  • $239,798
  • Chief audit officer
  • $121,056
  • Chief diversity officer
  • $149,524
  • Median Salary
  • $196,031
  • Source: Chronicle of Higher Education and author’s calculation

Growing Inequality Between Disciplines

  • Discipline
  • 1980-81
  • 2009-10
  • Fine arts: visual and performing
  • -8.80%
  • -12.40%
  • Education
  • -4.00%
  • -4.30%
  • Foreign language and literature
  • 0.90%
  • -4.10%
  • Communications
  • -3.30%
  • -3.20%
  • Philosophy
  • 2.30%
  • 2.10%
  • Library science
  • -1.50%
  • 3.60%
  • Mathematics
  • 7.60%
  • 7.20%
  • Psychology
  • 5.00%
  • 8.90%
  • Physical sciences
  • 7.70%
  • 12.90%
  • Social sciences
  • 4.80%
  • 16.80%
  • Health professions and related sciences
  • 20.30%
  • 18.90%
  • Engineering
  • 8.10%
  • 25.20%
  • Computer and information sciences
  • 13.40%
  • 28.40%
  • Economics
  • 13.90%
  • 41.20%
  • Business administration and management
  • 11.40%
  • 50.90%
  • Law and legal studies
  • 33.20%
  • 59.50%
  • Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

The Pay Gap Between Public & Private Universities

  • Percentage Gap Public v Private Independent Doctoral
  • Pcentage Gap Public v Religiously Affiliated Doctoral
  • 1986-87
  • 2011-12
  • 1986-87
  • 2011-12
  • Professor
  • 17%
  • 34%
  • 5%
  • 10%
  • Associate
  • 9%
  • 23%
  • 5%
  • 9%
  • Assistant
  • 7%
  • 25%
  • 2%
  • 8%
  • Instructor
  • 16%
  • 29%
  • 22%
  • 34%
  • Lecturer
  • 2%
  • 21%
  • -7%
  • 4%
  • Source: AAUP Salary Survey
  • Source: The Common Fund & Author’s Calculations
  • Source: National Center for Education Statistics

National Report on Administrative Costs in Higher Education: Goldwater Institute and Administrative Bloat

  • But unlike almost every other growing industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate each student.
  • In short, universities are suffering from “administrative bloat,” expanding the resources devoted to administration significantly faster than spending on instruction, research and service.”
  • Source: No. 239 I August 17, 2010: Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education. http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/

National Report on Administrative Costs in Higher Education: Delta Cots Project

  • “The share of spending going to pay for instruction has consistently declined when revenues decline, relative to growth in spending in academic and student support and administration. This erosion persists even when revenues rebound, meaning that over time there has been a gradual shift of resources away from instruction and towards general administrative and academic infrastructure.”
  • Source: Trends in College Spending, 1998-2008. Released July 8, 2010. http://www.deltacostproject.org/

Revenues, Expenses & Change in Net Assets at Public Four-Year Universities

  • Year
  • Total Revenues
  • Total Expenses
  • Change in Net Assets
  • Margin
  • 2002
  • $278,400,000
  • $295,500,000
  • $(17,100,000)
  • -6.1%
  • 2003
  • $296,500,000
  • $295,000,000
  • $1,500,000
  • 0.5%
  • 2004
  • $317,600,000
  • $308,800,000
  • $8,800,000
  • 2.8%
  • 2005
  • $333,100,000
  • $323,100,000
  • $10,000,000
  • 3.0%
  • 2006
  • $352,900,000
  • $341,700,000
  • $11,200,000
  • 3.2%
  • 2007
  • $382,900,000
  • $362,800,000
  • $20,100,000
  • 5.2%
  • 2008
  • $394,500,000
  • $396,400,000
  • $(1,900,000)
  • -0.5%
  • 2009
  • $386,200,000
  • $412,600,000
  • $(26,400,000)
  • -6.8%
  • 2010
  • $447,100,000
  • $428,700,000
  • $18,400,000
  • 4.1%
  • Delta Cost Data and author’s calculations

What are the Consequences?

How Decision Are Made

  • “[A] Cornell University faculty senate committee report in 2007 recounts a series of administration decisions made without adequate consultation with the faculty senate, including the creation of a new faculty of computing and information science, the reorganization of the division of biological sciences, and the creation of a for-profit distance learning corporation.”
    • —Point Park University Amicus Brief

How Decision Are Made

  • “At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in 2006, the Board of Trustees ordered the Faculty Senate to revoke its amendment to expand Senate membership to include clinical faculty. Following the Rensselaer President’s rejection of the Senate’s request to convene a joint committee to resolve the issue, the Provost unilaterally suspended the Faculty Senate for failing to comply with the Board of Trustees’ order.”
    • —Point Park University Amicus Brief

Program Discontinuance

  • State universities in Louisiana will eliminate 109 programs and consolidate 189 others into new programs or concentrations within existing majors, the state Board of Regents announced on Wednesday as it decided the fate of 456 “low-completer” programs it had flagged for review. The cuts include foreign-language majors on a number of campuses
  • In 2010, Southeastern Louisiana University eliminated its undergraduate French major, dismissing its three tenured professors with a year's notice—and then offering one of them a temporary instructorship.

Program Discontinuance

  • Auburn U. Trustees Eliminate 6 Programs
  • “Auburn University's Board of Trustees voted this month to cut six degree-granting programs, including a doctorate in economics that the university's president and a faculty review committee wanted to keep…The 7-to-3 vote in favor of cutting the economics program infuriated many professors and one trustee, who argued that the board should have abided by the president's recommendation.”

Program Discontinuance

  • More Than 70 U. of Northern Iowa Programs Face Elimination or Overhaul
  • “Among the programs being considered for elimination, all of which have produced an average of fewer than seven graduates over the past five years, are several degree programs in the languages, chemistry, computer science, and the earth sciences, according to an administrative document that the newspaper obtained. The university’s faculty members have been protesting their lack of involvement in the budget-cutting process and last week voted no confidence in the institution’s president and provost.”
    • Chronicle of Higher Education

Program Discontinuance

  • A University Plans to Promote Languages by Killing Its Languages Department
  • “Last month, a year and a half after Mr. Maxwell took over the presidency of the Des Moines institution, the Board of Trustees voted to get rid of Drake's foreign-language program and the eight tenured and tenure-track professors and seven part-timers who teach in it.”
    • Chronicle of Higher Education


  • “AAUP Criticizes Michigan State U. for Not Listening to Faculty”
  • “Student-Affairs Job Goes to Wife of Bowling Green's President”
  • “Regents Broaden Presidential Search at Texas A&M Without Faculty Input, Drawing Criticism”
    • Chronicle of Higher Education

Curricular Changes

  • CUNY’s Pathway to Whatever
    • “As chair of the University Faculty Senate — a body chartered by the Trustees — to deal with cross campus curricula issues, I can state clearly that the process by which this core was developed did not reflect any campus or university wide elections and involvement of faculty with experience in general education.” 
    • Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumping Faculty Governance

  • New President and Faculty Tangle at U. of the District of Columbia
    • “Just a month after becoming president of the University of the District of Columbia, Allen L. Sessoms is locked in a battle with the institution's faculty senate, which he wants to shut down and replace with a new forum of students and faculty and staff members.”
  • After Professors Unionize, Miami-Dade Community College Abolishes Faculty Senates
  • Union In, Governance Out
    • Faculty governance at Akron, some say now, was gutted, and without a word of debate.”
    • Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumping Faculty Governance

  • Tennessee State U. Disregards Faculty Senate's Vote to Retain Its Leader
    • “Tennessee State University's administration is disregarding a Thursday vote by the Faculty Senate to retain its chairwoman, whom the university's president had previously declared removed from the job.”
  • A Professor at Louisiana State Is Flunked Because of Her Grades
    • “Kevin R. Carman, dean of science at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, decided to pull a senior professor, Dominique G. Homberger, from an introductory biology course this semester because many of her students were failing.”
    • Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumping Presidents

  • New Statements on Ouster of Virginia President
    • “The Council of Chairs and Directors released a letter blasting the way events have transpired. The letter said that these academic leaders were "very pleased" with Sullivan's "superb" leadership, and that they were stunned by her ouster, and frustrated by the lack of faculty knowledge of the reasons behind the board's action.”
  • State Higher Ed Board Votes to Dismiss U. of Oregon President
    • “Oregon's Board of Higher Education voted unanimously to cut short the presidency of Richard Lariviere at the University of Oregon, despite impassioned pleas from faculty and staff members and students at a highly contentious board meeting Monday.”
    • Inside Higher Ed

Affordability Gap

  • The College Board & Bureau of Census

Crushing Debt for Students

Grants and Loans Millions $ 2010=100

  • The College Board

Average Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Student constant 2010 $

  • The College Board

Percent of Need Based Aid

  • The College Board

Are We Doomed?

  • Returning to the Schultz article, he concludes the corporate model has now collapsed
  • Predicts rather pessimistically that the next business model will negate “the democratic function of higher education that existed since World War II”
  • De-emphasizing liberal arts in favor of professional education

Are We Doomed ?

  • The pessimistic view in the Schultz article misses the fact that contradictory forces have always existed in American higher education.
    • Ruling elite in our society
    • The working class majority

Contradictory Nature of Higher Education

  • Higher education was central in defending both religious and secular values central to the preservation of capitalism
  • Somewhat later, as science and technology became more important, the idea of higher education as vehicle for providing “practical training” also emerged

Education as a Force for the Common Good

  • Others (e.g., Thomas Jefferson) have seen higher education as the great equalizer, a vehicle for educating citizens and the “common good.”

The Era of Expanding Access to Higher Education

  • During the period leading up to World War II, most scientific research and the innovation that drove American industrial might occurred in private research labs
    • Bell Labs, Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co. (DELCO), Battelle Memorial Institute).
    • Only after WWII, with the onset of the Cold War, did universities became centers for research.
  • The GI bill first opened college admissions to the unwashed masses.
    • The elite universities all opposed the bill; they thought that helping ordinary people who had been drafted go to college would dilute the pool of college students with mediocre students.
    • However, hundreds of thousands of veterans were returning to the US with little prospect for employment, and left-led unions of the CIO were pushing a social agenda, so the GI bill was enacted.

Expanding Access & the Dewey Model

  • The big expansion of access to college, however, came in the 1960s
    • Increased funding for public higher education
    • Urban universities
    • Community colleges
  • Greater access to higher education was a component of the reform era that began in the 1950s
    • Civil rights
    • Women’s rights
    • Antiwar movements

The Social Upheavals of the 1960s

  • The social upheavals of this era:
      • Greater access to college
      • Medicare and Medicaid
      • Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and the EPA
      • OSHA
      • Greater income equality
  • The “Dewey model” was a facet of the of mass movements for social justice and equality

The Death of the Reform Era & Corporatization

  • The death of the reform era by the late 1970s and rise of the corporate university
    • Part-time faculty have replaced tenure line faculty, undermining both academic freedom and shared governance
    • These changes must be seen as part of the broader neo-liberal attack on organized labor and the achievements of the 1950s-1970s reform area

Fighting Back

  • Changes in higher education do not occur in a vacuum
  • If there is any hope of reversing the deleterious effects of corporatization on higher education, it is in faculty and academic professionals aligning ourselves with the labor movement and the broader movement for social justice

Fighting Back

  • Strengthen Existing Chapters on Campus
    • Have a membership drive on campus at least once a year
    • Make office visits to get faculty to joint AAUP
  • Every chapter should have a website and the national AAUP should provide a template for the website.
    • Have a presence on social media i.e., Facebook and Twitter
    • Use the website to communicate with faculty with an online newsletter and links to other AAUP chapters.

Fighting Back

  • Use the AAUP salary data to create a comparison with your peer institutions
  • Put IPEDS data on your site to show how much your institution is spending on instruction

Fighting Back

  • Build alliances on campus with students, parents and unions on campus
  • Think about contacting alumni who have a stake in the institution’s reputation
  • Build alliances with community organizations including K-12 teachers
  • Work to make your state conference more effective
  • Build linkages with other higher education unions by participating in CFHE

Fighting Back

  • Get involved in politics
    • See if it makes more sense for your chapter or state conference to be a 501c(6)
    • Conduct voter registration drives on campus each year
    • Your chapter or conference may want to endorse candidates, particularly for state offices, based on where they stand on issues that relate to higher education
    • Mobilize members to work on legislative initiatives

Presented at the 2012 Governance Conference

  • www.aaup.org
  • Rudy Fichtenbaum
  • Department of Economics
  • Wright State University
  • Dayton, OH 45435
  • Rudy.fichtenbaum@wright.edu
  • 937-775-3085

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