Friday, February 09, 2007

How fat is SIU? A good comment and link.

Before I started working on Carbondale politics, there was a thread about SIU and the DE's editorials. Way down in that thread, about comment 20 I think, there is this link to the SIU fact book. The person who wrote in said, "I fully expect Peter to freak when he sees the increases." Total employment at SIU has gone from 4,993 in Fall of 1997 to 5,305 in Fall of 2006. I have to admit that I don't understand the numbers listed, so maybe one of you can explain it?

This seems to support the idea that SIU is doing less with more. I guess you might be able to justify everything except the growth of AP and CS staff by calling it normal ebb and flow of the hiring cycle? Why are there so many more AP and CS staff people around now?

Your comments are always welcome.


Anonymous said...

It's not exactly that they are doing less with more. I would say they are doing less of what they should be. The increase in non-teaching employees is due to the growth of all the "non-instructional" things that the universites are doing these days (this is not unique to SIUC). As the universities provide more and more "creature comforts", this takes resources away from the academic mission (faculty and classroom buildings). The state is hesitant to pay for this non-instructional stuff, so costs go up, thus, restricting access.

Fraydog said...

In case anyone here is wondering, I was the one that found the factbook link.

On providing non-instructional services, that's the problem with the marketplace in higher education. There is a great entitlement mentality that people expect now that drives the cost of things up. It used to be that we had one of the best rec centers of the country, and we had it on the cheap. Now, because of other schools building super high priced rec centers, I doubt our Rec Center is in the top 25. I sit on the Rec Committee (in fact I chair it), and I'm full aware of it, but because of our cost increases in other areas, I don't think it's a good idea to add on or renovate. Now that means that our Rec will not be an asset to add to enrollment.

What happens when people demand cheap educations and then want dorms that don't look like dorms but instead look like the Four Seasons? Costs go up. What happens when they want play palaces that make the Rec here look like a dilapidated ghetto? Costs go up. Yet, these places are gaining students, and good old SIU started to hemmorgage enrollment in the late 90's, early 2000's when it because crystal clear our facilities were becoming dilapidated.

The only way you stop this is that you demand that public institutions don't do that. I'm afraid with UIUC in charge of education in this state, you'll get no such laws passed. Therefore, we have to run the rat race with everyone else on costs. The other thing is you can drastically increase financial aid. That might be more realistic, but that means that someone is going to have to pay for it in the form of higher taxes. I think that will be the conclusion of the trend you state.

Personally I suspect that the fee units aren't the source of bloat here. I think we can eliminate the institutional bloat and bad management first before we have to talk about what tough choices we have to make.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but what would be the most relevant number on A/P and C/S staff would be those on hard money (as oppose to grant support). I wonder if many of those in the increase are soft money positions supported by various grants. For example, staff at Dunn Richmond increased substantially from '97 to '06 in terms of people supported by grants (there have been reductions lately). Grant-supported scientific researcher positions are usually A/P staff too. I don't know for sure if that's why the numbers increased, but if SIUC employment goes up from soft money, that should generally be a good for S. IL because it's jobs paid for from outside sources, not the SIUC/state budget. I would think those numbers would be available if someone's up for requesting them.