Administrative bloat at Dartmouth, a more nuanced look

Yesterday, in a post about the problem Dartmouth students have getting into the classes of their choice, I suggested that the main culprit is “administrative bloat” — i.e., the shocking expansion of the Dartmouth bureaucracy during the past 10 years. As Joe Asch of Dartblog has been known to point out, Dartmouth has 42 percent more employees than it had ten years ago (increasing from 2,408 to 3,417 during that period of time.
Today, we received an email from one of Dartmouth’s administrators, Joseph Elsener, the manager/administrator of the Computer Science department. Significantly, he agrees that administrative bloat is a problem at Dartmouth. However, he calls on us to distinguish between “the bloated administration and the people that actually serve our faculty and students.” He writes:

I read Power Line every day and I also read Dartblog every day. I read your entry today regarding Dartmouth class availability and the bloated administration. I am the manager/administrator of Computer Science at Dartmouth. I must tell you that I take offense when you and Joe Asch keep complaining about the bloated administration.
I run the second largest science department. I am responsible for our building (Sudikoff), a faculty of 18, a graduate population of about a hundred and almost 100 more major/minor undergrads and I manage a budget of millions of dollars.
I have one assistant.
I am very proud of what we do in Computer Science. I feel fortunate to work with a brilliant faculty and equally brilliant students. I am amazed how our faculty can produce cutting edge research while at the same time be completely devoted to our undergraduate program. We actively recruit undergrad students to become Computer Science majors and minors. This last week we opened up a lounge for undergrads that provides them with their own work area and lockers for keeping books and other items.
The real point of this email is that I would wish that you and Joe Asch would be more specific about what bureaucracy you are talking about. There is no bloat in Computer Science. Is there administrative bloat at Dartmouth? There sure is but not in our department.
I have been here two years and we have weathered two year of budget cuts without denigrating our mission. How? We work smarter. I instituted the first paperless department on campus for a couple of thousand of dollars and I estimate we save about 7-8 thousand every year because of it. I did this without consultants and all the “big” administrators I think you gentemen are refering to. I invite you and Mr. Asch to come see us if you are ever on campus and I will show you what really great things are happening at Dartmouth. Things that you would be quite proud of and again I would simply ask that you distinguish between the bloated administration and the people that actually serve our faculty and students.

I’m happy that Mr. Elsener has made this distinction for us, and commend him for the way he administers the computer science department.


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