Yale’s Latest Disgrace: The Report They Don’t Want You to Read

I recall reading some time ago that administrative personnel at Yale University had come to outnumber faculty. I don’t know if this is true, but here’s some relevant data:

A 2018 Chronicle [of Higher Education] report showing that Yale has the fifth-highest ratio of administrators to students in the country, and the highest in the Ivy League (for comparison, peer institutions like Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford were 24th, 35th, and 55th, respectively). Between 2003 and 2022, the draft report states, “we note increases in administrative positions in various units of at least 150 percent. … This compares with an increase in just 10.6 percent” for tenure-track jobs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

This paragraph appears today in a new Chronicle of Higher Education story on “The Report Yale Doesn’t Want You to See” about the scandalous administrative bloat in New Haven. Big surprise: Yale’s administration appears to be trying to suppress a report that tells the truth:

“University professors,” David Graeber wrote in these pages in 2018, “have to spend increasing proportions of their days performing tasks which exist only to make overpaid academic managers feel good about themselves.” That’s an assessment corroborated by a draft report on the “Size and Growth of Administration and Bureaucracy at Yale,” dated January 2022 but not yet released. (At the moment, the report appears to be in limbo, circulating privately but with no official stamp of approval. Karen Peart, a spokeswoman for Yale, said only that “the Senate voted at its closed-door May 2022 meeting to postpone discussion of the report until a future date.”)

In an appendix, the authors of the report — the seven-person governance committee of Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences — have collected several anecdotes from faculty members that they say are symptomatic of an increasingly intolerable burden of bureaucratic oversight. “Disrespectful,” “demoralizing,” “infantilizing,” “opaque” — these are some of the adjectives that appear. One professor compared dealing with Yale administrators to “interacting with an insurance company.”

I’m sure that’s putting it mildly, and it is perhaps worth noting that after the disgrace at Yale Law last year, Yale quietly dismissed the assistant dean of diversity so as to avoid having to admit how disgracefully it had behaved. The passage above ratifies my own sense of things from inside Berkeley—even liberal professors hate the administrative bureaucracy, including the “diversity” bureaucracy.

But more from the Chron‘s story:

And not only is the number of administrators growing, but so are their salaries. The seven “upper administrators” who remained in the same role between 2015 and 2019 received “roughly 8.25 percent per year” raises, a rate far out of step with what faculty members got. As depicted in the report, Yale’s upper administration is both bloated and greedy.

The report is — or will be, if the university ever releases it — the result of a long period of concern over the ballooning administration. For the Yale Daily News, the student journalist Philip Mousavizadeh reported on that concern in November of last year. “According to eight members of the Yale faculty,” Mousavizadeh wrote, the administration’s “size imposes unnecessary costs, interferes with students’ lives and faculty’s teaching, spreads the burden of leadership, and adds excessive regulation.”

It appears the administration is obstructing a real assessment, if not in fact engaging in a cover up:

The authors acknowledge that their data-gathering is somewhat improvisational, a necessary evil, they say, given the administration’s failure to provide official figures on many of the relevant topics. Running like a refrain throughout the report are pleas for more information. “Despite repeated efforts on the part of the Senate Budget Committee over the past few years to obtain meaningful information about the budget and its deployment, the administration has not made current and past administrative costs transparent.” Later, a note of irritation creeps in: “We note that the lack of transparency about this topic by the administration is itself a problem.” And later still, buried in a footnote, “We cannot know, because we do not have the requisite transparency to make such an assessment.” Perhaps the administration feels too burdened by onerous paperwork to find the time.

In a domain full of bottom-feeding college presidents, Yale’s Peter Salovey may rank as the very worst. Will Yale’s trustees step up and do anything about this? Yes, I’ll try to pick you up off the floor after you start laughing.

Good for the Chronicle for running this story.

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