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Of course that's why, it isn't because the quality of the education students get costs that much to deliver. It's also high to fund pension plans, high to fund facilities to "hopefully" attract R&D dollars etc.

Universities might fit the legal definition of "Non-Profit," but somebody is making money.

Between child 1 and child 3...5 years and 100%+ increase in tuition at ASU. It more than doubled in 5 years.

Of course, the US government now has substantial control over student loans, so we're fueling mor epublic debt for the entire country.

Public universities are racket. It's no wonder private schools like Grand Canyon are doing so well. They may be more expensive and, yes, they rely on student loans, but most of those schools offer degrees in high-economic return jobs. Good luck finding sociology at University of Phoenix.

My tuition at the UofA in 1976 was $225 a semester. Taking into consideration inflation that is $838 today. Tuition is actually $4500 a semester. That is a 1900% increase!! Clearly, something other than inflation is going on here.

Prescribed thought from the anointed class says more people should go to college. Wrong. Less people should be going to college. I know I've had more than enough of hearing the sob stories of "Human Studies" graduates who emerge from hallowed institutions of higher learning with a bundle of student loan debt and zero marketable skills.

Arizona Constitution Article 11, Section 6 reads in part: "The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible." Granted, nothing is "free" and no one should expect to pay nothing "extra" for attending a state university. If a student truly received a "free" education, he/she would not value it much. However, the thrust of the Goldwater Institute report is--surprise!!--that universities are top heavy with non-teaching personnel. The increase has been dramatic in the past decade--during which time the cost of tuition has doubled. Gee, could there possibly be a connection? The universities scream "foul" claiming that counselors are really teaching personnel, and so are the president and vice- presidents and sub vice-presidents and their assistants, etc. etc. They argue that any one that is in a support role for teaching should not be considered an administrator. That's pure bovine feces! The whole university is supposed to be in support of teaching. And redefining words doesn't change their status. If you decide to define a goat as a dog, it doesn't change the status of the goat. It's still a goat, regardless of what you want to call it. The universities suffer from several maladies: professorial elitism; Edifice Complex; kingdom building; and egotism. They are important, certainly, but they are not the economic engine they think they are.

As usual, you take a position paper from the right-wing Goldwater Institute and present it as fact. Here is a rebuttal to to that report, which shoots large holes in the Goldwater position. http://asunews.asu.edu/20100817_goldwater

F&B -- the ASU rebuttal shoots a few tiny holes in the Goldwater paper that do next to nothing insofar as refuting it. They shot many words but to little effect.

Greg -- if a student takes on a huge debt he'll be saddled with for the rest of his life in the process of enjoying a few years of a college experience that produces no lasting economic gain -- isn't that a good education for those who are to be tomorrow's taxpayers?

The Goldwater Institute report entitled “Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education” by Jay Greene is seriously flawed at all levels, from the source of its data and the methodology that was used to the conclusions that it claims to have reached.

The standard English definition for administration refers to the management of an institution or organization. The Goldwater report attempts to mislead the public into believing that the university’s administration is “bloated” by using an academic definition of the word that expands number of people counted as administrators. This expansion includes advisors, financial aid counselors, career counselors, writers, laboratory staff and literally hundreds of people who have nothing to do with the management of the institution. The effect is to inflate the number of staff categorized as administrators and distort the true picture.

The second flaw in the report is that the author selectively chose his starting and ending points to magnify the increase in this category, which is more appropriately called institutional support. ASU’s institutional support spending in 1993 was significantly lower than in either the preceding or following years. Conversely, 2007 institutional support spending was significantly higher than the years preceding or following. The combined effect is to manipulate the data in order to show a greater increase than would have been possible with the selection of any other combination of starting and ending years in the last 20 years.

The third flaw in the report is that Greene selected, as his only data source, a federal database called IPEDS. Although it is the only publicly available database, scrutiny of the data immediately shows inconsistency between universities and the way in which they account for different classifications of expenditures. A researcher whose intent is to conduct a thorough and accurate analysis would have requested additional data and verified the accuracy of his information. At no point did Greene contact ASU to validate or further investigate the information contained in this database. As any stock or bond investor knows, a researcher who writes an opinion on the financial condition of an institution or corporation must use due diligence in the conduct and publication of his research. As any academic knows, a researcher who investigates and publishes on any subject is similarly obligated to use due diligence to verify the accuracy of his work and the validity of his findings. Greene met neither the standards of the financial markets nor the standards of his fellow academics.

The fourth flaw in the report is that by using a subset of the federal data, Greene was able to conveniently exclude technical, secretarial and service employees from consideration. The selected starting year was before the advent of the worldwide web and the widespread use of personal computers in higher education. The work world was a different place at that time, with pools of clerical workers who handled routine typing and other general office work. Those pools no longer exist, as positions in this category were eliminated and these tasks were absorbed by all staff members as part of the normal conduct of business. Excluding these positions from his dataset allowed Greene to conveniently ignore the fact that many of the positions that were added in institutional support were directly offset by reductions in clerical and other positions.

The fifth flaw in the report is that Greene completely ignored output in his assessment. The university has two principal products, educated graduates and cutting-edge research. To assess only a subset of the inputs of a business without regard to the volume and quality of the products and services it produces is meaningless.

ASU is, in fact, one of the most efficient public research universities in the nation. It produces graduates at a cost that is 14 percent less than the average spending per degree at all public research universities and 30 percent less than that of its peers. Its sponsored research expenditures, which are a direct input to the state’s gross domestic product, have doubled in the last five years to more than $310 million.

The final flaw relates to the fundamental basis of comparison. As noted above, the world is a different place than it was in 1993, and today’s employers have different expectations when hiring new graduates. It is no longer enough to have a degree in English, or philosophy or history. Employers are looking for work experience that shows students can apply what they have learned in the classroom and work together in teams. International and/or service learning experience is oftentimes desired. Internships, community service, and study abroad programs provide this experience.

Many of these co-curricular learning activities -- and these are just a few -- do not fall under the typical instructional model, which assumes learning only takes place through an instructor standing in front of a classroom; yet they are vital to preparing our students for the global workplace that awaits them. Students and their parents, in addition to seeking excellent teaching faculty, also want opportunities to learn outside the classroom. The method Greene uses to support his argument discounts all of the people who support and teach students outside the classroom, calling them "administrative bloat.” This is not only an insult to those who provide this support, but to the students, parents, and employers who demand it.

ASU is a free-market institution, competing for students, faculty, investment and research grants with hundreds of other institutions. As such, it is responsive to changes in the marketplace that impact its ability to deliver on its mission of service to the people of Arizona. If the university froze in time, continuing to operate as it did in 1993, it would be irrelevant and ineffective, like any other institution or corporation that refuses to grow and evolve. Instead, it has adapted and thrived, becoming one of the preeminent research universities in the nation, contributing more than $4.4 billion each year to the Arizona economy along with tens of thousands of jobs and more than 15,000 new graduates each year. While we thrive on challenge and value feedback and criticism, such criticism should be based on truth, not the disingenuous misinformation presented in this report.

Steve Miller,
You've proved my point. There are really only two categories of employees at an educational institution: instructors and support personnel. Support personnel are administration and other non-instructor staff. They are all important, otherwise there would be no institution, but please don't insult our intelligence by claiming that advisors and financial aid folks and others have anything to do directly with instructing. And that's the real debate: instructors versus non-instructors, whether they are categorized as adminstrators or support staff. Universities have becoming "bloated" with non-instructors, regardless of what you want to call them. Another outrage is the lack of class time professors spend teaching. That's a debate for another time. Inspite of all that, and to Arizona's universities credit, they still provide a credible education for much less cost than the average government-run university in the country. But considering the competition, that could be considered a back-handed compliment.

No Greg, tuition is high because you and Brewer don't want to fully fund education. You don't want to fully fund prisons either, which is why five people have now escaped.

I would give Kirsten Synema a thousand for her next campaign if she could convince me that Phoenix Crank School of Journalisn graduates are earning enough to pay for an apartment and the student loan. Food? Car?

Wife or Husband working to assist in the payment of the student loan?

Mr. Miller,
You state: "ASU is, in fact, one of the most efficient public research universities in the nation. It produces graduates at a cost that is 14 percent less than the average spending per degree at all public research universities and 30 percent less than that of its peers."

I hear this argument a lot from those who think tuition increases at ASU are a good thing. This is a little like saying that my turn is more shiny than your turd. Of course then, my turd must be great!
College education costs have exploded all over the country in the last 10-15 years. Just because ASU is X percentage less than other institutions doesn't mean that ASU's turd smells like roses.

The 50 or so Kalifornia graduates from institutes of high degree costs doing the same work at an airline as I with a high school diploma makes me question the wisdom of the expense.

One of the historic failures of federal and state legislative bodies in recent years has been the decline in systematic, serious oversight. Properly understood, such oversight can go well beyond executive and independent agencies. For example, it can frame and explain major phenomena which have eluded public notice or understanding. Surely the entirety of American post-secondary education is ripe for such a thoroughgoing review. The political forces undergirding the status quo are formidable--but so, too, all of us know that the current system is out-of-whack, out-of-date, and soon to be out of money. It represents yet another area where the older generations of Americans have been complicit in saddling the rising generations with unprecedented, unsustainable debt.... Time for a reset.....

Steve Miller is VP of Public Affairs at ASU. According to this website, his salary was almost 198k in 2008.


Steve, you're part of the bloat, dear. Your salary may be hefty for a poor public college, but your colleague Dennis Erickson, from Ica Administration, made 1,275,000 in 2008.

Feel cheated?

The gal in charge of residential life, Jane Christie, made 353, 600! Steve, your time at the public trough must have been limited.

When I was an RA at a dorm, I made enough to buy crackers, occasionally. Too bad I didn't demand taxpayers subsidize my salary, just as you're asking taxpayers to pay for yours.

Go teach, if you can. Stop making us pay for your drivel on this website.


If I live to be 110 years old, I may never again see something as priceless as PL's response. Nicely done...someone get the smelling salts for Team ASU.


To be fair, the football program more than pays for all of the football coaches salary. Unlike most of ASU, football runs at a profit, which it won't do if ASU consistently hires coaches willing to work for $30,000 a year.


The problem is that ASU was established as an educational institution and, through the years, has morphed into a football institution. When ASU is out asking for Chambers of Commerce to support the use of State funds, taxpayer monies, or tution fees to rebuild a dilapidated stadium, you suddenly realize where their primary focus is at. If football can’t pay its own way, then cut the program and put the savings towards reduced tuition. Same with any other non-educational program.

By the time my kids reach college age, I hope history repeats itself and universities convert back to being institutions dedicated to higher education at a reduced cost that doesn't supplement non-educational programs.

KT - As a long suffering SunDevil fan, I can only dream that ASU was a "football institution".

"Meanwhile Presidents like Michael Crow and Robert Shelton will insist that universities are the "economic engine" that drives the 21st century economy..."

Everyone talks from a position, but this is one of the greatest farces ever posited by any institution in the history of Western civilization - today's universities teach mostly crap. Your "green economy" or "cultural relativism" degrees are worth slightly less than the toilet paper in my bathroom, and are far less functional.

If we want to have a serious discussion about failings of higher education, and gaps in workforce preparation/expansion, then let's start with gutting administrators, and then curricula.

People like Crow and Shelton are uniquely unqualified for such a debate.

For the record, the study's authors have explained why ASU's statement misses the mark:

By Jay Greene, Brian Kisida and Jonathan Mills

Nothing in Arizona State University's statement about this study challenges the accuracy of the information we presented regarding administrative bloat at American universities, including ASU. Instead, the statement quibbles over definitions and attempts to justify the bloat that has occurred. Nothing in the statement changes the fact that ASU nearly doubled the number of full-time senior executives and professional staff (which combined we call "administration") per student between 1993 and 2007, while the number of instructors and researchers per student actually declined.

ASU's main objection is that we define "administration" inappropriately by including professional staff, which includes some job titles that the university says are not involved in management of the organization. This is simply a semantics argument. Whatever we call these relatively high-skilled and high-paid people, they are not faculty engaged in the university's primary mission of teaching, research and service. Whatever we call them would not change the fact that the ranks of these relatively well-paid non-educators nearly doubled at ASU while faculty shrank.

The vast majority of job titles included in the "other professionals" staff category for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System are clearly administrative. They include "business operations specialists; buyers and purchasing agents; human resources, training, and labor relations specialists; management analysts; meeting and convention planners; miscellaneous business operations specialists; financial specialists; accountants and auditors; budget analysts; financial analysts and advisors; financial examiners, [etc]…"

ASU is attempting to deny that these people are administrators when they clearly are by any reasonable definition.

ASU also attempts to justify the growth in administration (or "relatively well-paid non-educators," if they prefer) by suggesting that they are needed because of "the advent of the worldwide web and the widespread use of personal computers in higher education." This is a strange argument because, in almost every other industry, better technology has reduced the need for more employees.

ASU acknowledges that technology allowed the university to reduce the number of clerical positions, which we note in our report. But university officials claim that eliminating secretaries justifies adding professional staff at a faster rate. Cutting relatively low-paid secretaries to add even more relatively well-paid administrators is exactly the type of administrative bloat we are highlighting. Advanced technology and larger enrollments should lead to more efficiency in both low-paid and high-paid positions.

It is also important to note ours is not the first or only analysis to point to administrative bloat in higher education. Reports by the Delta Project, the American Association of University Professors, and Bain & Company, as well as books by Richard Vedder, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, and Craig Brandon – among many other sources – all draw the same conclusions as we do about the problem. Unless we are all picking the wrong years to examine, using the wrong data sets, employing the wrong definitions, and conducting inappropriate analyses, it is likely that there really is a problem with administrative bloat.

Rather than denying this reality, ASU should learn from the example of Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff for President Clinton and current president of the University of North Carolina. After the respected management consulting firm, Bain & Company, documented administrative bloat at UNC, President Bowles told school officials: "administrative growth within the university is an absolute embarrassment – and we brought it all on ourselves." He continued, "In the conversations that we will be having with you regarding your 10 percent budget reduction plans, we will be looking for absolute proof that you have focused first on administrative reductions and solid evidence that you have taken steps to shore up our academic core."

The response by ASU President Michael Crow could not have been more different. Rather than admitting the existence of an obvious problem and pledging to address it, Crow forcefully denied its existence and attempted to intimidate his critics. Scholars express their disagreements directly and openly, even if forcefully, and do not attempt to silence their opponents by going to their "bosses."

This study has documented what most people familiar with universities such as ASU have understood for some time. As university campuses got bigger, they added far more supervisors and support employees than full-time instructors and researchers who actually prepare students for their college diplomas. Unfortunately for Arizona students and taxpayers, ASU has ranked among the worst universities in the country in this trend.
(To see the explanation with embedded links to support material, visit: http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/asufailsdisprovestudysmainconclusions)


As I already mentioned, football does pay its own way and then some. The fact that they are out asking for money to do more than just meet current expenses does not change that fact. Just because I want a loan to buy a bigger house doesn't mean I'm unable to keep paying for my current house.

The response by ASU was lame and the counter-response by the Goldwater Institute was devastating.

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