Monday, August 24, 2015

Budget Stupidity

We've had a major cut to our budget this year; it's no secret, and we all saw it coming, though it's probably worse than most people thought it would be.  The headmaster did a thing where they offered early retirements, and the thing was, if an employee was a certain age with a certain number of years of service, they got invited to apply.  If they applied, then the managerial types looked at it, and supposedly only offered the buyout (which was modest) if the person wouldn't be replaced in their position.  If a person got an offer for the buyout, they could then accept it or not.  For non-teaching type positions (think maintenance folks, admin assistants, especially), the deadline was that they'd be done on August 31.  For teaching types and higher level administrators, the deadline was that they'd be one on December 31, so that they'd teach the courses that students had already signed up for.

There was big push with an emergency team in the spring to brainstorm ways to deal with the budget issues. 

The emergency team was split into work groups.  The student services work group put forward a proposal to put everything in student services basically in one place so that students can take care of everything they need with one visit to a "mall" sort of thing.  Administrative services, the HR folks and such, put forward a similar proposal so that employees should be able to go to one place to get all the things taken care of.  These proposals would, we were told, involve lots of cross training so that the people who've been career services specialists would now need to also be able to help with financial aid and so forth.

And each of these "malls" would need a new manager.  Yes, they're proposing to hire new upper-level administrators.  (Or maybe they'll move people around.  Who knows.)


The new non-emergency working group for student services now proposes that the student services mall will handle almost all student advising.  This, they say, will solve two problems.  First, it will help with faculty workload.  Second, it will help students avoid faculty who are lousy advisors (and there are some of those).  Faculty will still be responsible for advising students on career sorts of stuff, but not for advising students about their majors, minors, or general education sorts of choices.

Sounds good.  Okay.

Then they do the math.  Each advisor will be able to advise 300 students, so take the undergrad student population, divide by 300, and for each 3000 students, we need 10 advising people.  You can do the math in your imagination; we're a fairly small school compared to the big schools with TV football presences, but we would still need to hire, say, 25 new advising people.

That's right.  In a budget crisis where we're not rehiring instructors to teach students, they propose to hire 25 new advising people.  (I bet they'll be hiring people with BA/BS degrees and paying them almost as much as they do Phuds in the humanities.)

They probably need to hire a new manager, too, say the Assistant Headmaster for Advising Services in the Mall.

My mind boggles.


  1. I want to say "Unbelievable," but sadly, this kind of thing is only too believable. It'll be great to have all those advisors on hand to advise students to take classes for which there are no instructors!

  2. I'm sorry--about this, and everything else happening to higher ed in your state.

    And unfortunately, I fear this is going to be the new normal everywhere, before long.

  3. Yeah, but administrators can't be tenured, so they have SO much more appeal. Grrrr

    I'm sorry. It sucks so bad what's happening in your neighborhood. :(

  4. Plus, these are administrators, not academics, so it's FINE to hire them!

    Holy hell.

    No wonder I have an ulcer.

  5. So not helpful, especially when you really need some good ideas for saving money!

    We had an administrator pushing for some new advising system that was going to cost a million dollars. He eventually gave up and no longer works here.