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12 Au s t e r i t y, C o n t i n g e n c y, a n d A d m i n i s t r at i v e B l oat DOI: 10.7330/9781607324454.c012 Writing Programs and Universities in an Age of Feast and Famine Eileen E. Schell In May of 2014, Drs. Kathy Cawsey, Renee Ward, Lucie Kocum, and Becca Fawn-Dew Babcock made headlines by applying for the $400,000 position of University President and Vice Chancellor at the University of Alberta (U of A). In their “tongue in cheek” application letter featured in an article by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed, they argued that their “collective experience in academic and administrative leadership totals over 30 years” and that their preparation for the position was impeccable with “12 postsecondary degrees [between them], including four PhDs, which we believe will surpass the ‘exceptional intellectual calibre’ of any of your other single applicants” (Jaschik 2014). The four applicants promised to “each take only a fair and reasonable salary, rather than one which is four or five times that of a tenured academic and at least ten times that of a sessional [adjunct], and that this willingness will prove to society our belief in ‘the importance of higher education,’ and encourage others in similar positions to follow suit.” Their letter, which went viral on the Internet, succeeded in highlighting the disparity between the compensation of higher education administrators and that of contingent faculty members. The writers also questioned the “rhetoric of austerity” being used by university administrators. As Cawsey told Inside Higher Ed: “‘I don’t think it [the letter] in itself will change anything, but enough small actions like this might get people thinking about the role of university administrators and the disparity for many of them between their actions and their rhetoric of austerity. It’s a serious question . . . Is one person really worth what four (or even eight, given the current U of A president’s salary) tenured professors 178   Eileen E. Schell could contribute?’” (Jaschik 2014). The University of Alberta “4 for the Price of 1” application letter sparked a dialogue about the growth and compensation of college and university administrative positions, a phenomenon that has been referred to colloquially and unflatteringly as “administrative bloat.” In this chapter, I analyze the costs and consequences of “administrative bloat” at US colleges and universities and the accompanying rhetorics of austerity and entrepreneurialism. On the one hand, university administrators who command the higher education equivalent of CEO-size salaries often argue for austerity measures, including “belt-­ tightening” around faculty hiring and the slimming down of department and program operating budgets. In the same breath, they often proclaim the need for entrepreneurialism: finding and exploiting new revenue streams, promoting corporate partnerships, and monetizing faculty research. So even as we, as faculty members, face shrinking instructional budgets, an increasingly contingent and underpaid faculty, a decline in state funding for public higher education, and an increasingly competitive environment for external research funding, we are urged to be entrepreneurs, to find new streams of funding while our students face rising tuition, fee rates, and soaring loan debt. As I address the challenges of rising administrative costs, increasing instability and underfunding of the faculty ranks, and the rise of student debt, I also analyze what this dual rhetoric of austerity and entrepreneurialism might mean for writing programs and writing program administrators (WPAs) who are responsible for providing and supervising the instruction of thousands of America’s college students enrolled in writing courses. My goal is not to denigrate administrative positions or those who seek them, but to ask tough questions about how money spent on managing the university organization and university programs and funds allocated to “entrepreneurial” or extracurricular initiatives have to be balanced against monies spent on the instructional budget in the form of stable, well-paid positions (both tenure-track and nontenured ) with benefits and professional development opportunities. I also argue that WPAs, along with other writing program faculty, both off and on the tenure-track, have a vested interest in intervening in debates over the allocation of instructional budgets and the role of shared governance —the right of faculty members and, where appropriate, students to determine the curricular goals, outcomes, and future of their colleges and universities. After all, our programs, departments, and students are most affected when our university and college instructional budgets are defunded and when those responsible for...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781607324454
Related ISBN
9781607324447
MARC Record
OCLC
944187373
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2016-03-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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