Ned Flanders wrote:That's great background about how the beast works. But don't you think some "out of the box" thinking could help deal with the issue? Instead of the old "we need more money" plea? Clearly there's plenty of cash there. Time to ask the donors to be more flexible in their giving....
No, you're not listening. There isn't "cash" there. It's locked into specific kinds of investments and bequests.
You think they haven't been trying to be creative in asking for donations? The UW B-School--well, really, a core group of their alumni--have been very creative. I'm thinking here of how they banded together and gave money to prevent the school from being named after someone, and then set a 20-year sunset (I think it was 20 years) to that stipulation so the whole game could be run again. But that doesn't help with the existing endowments, some of which go back to the discovery of Vitamin D and can't be fucked with. And there are a certain number of potential donors who want their name on a building in perpetuity and to hell with what the university needs.
This isn't to say that there aren't areas that couldn't be cut down or eliminated. Certain kinds of administrative units have grown well beyond their original mission over time, and have doubtful grounds for existence in the eyes of many many faculty & staff. The Graduate School in Madison, for example, which started out as a simplified way of handling applications & research funding for grad school, and now constitutes an entirely separate set of hoops applicants must jump through--you can be accepted into a department's grad program and yet rejected by the Grad School, which makes no sense. Another unit that needs to be seriously shrunk is the UW System administration, which does little other than fund executive-level salaries for people who spend their time talking to each other, often over dinner. And of course there are smaller administrative units that seem to accrue one new vice-this or vice-that after another even while the funding for additional instructional salaries has been zeroed out.
We have to be careful, though, in blaming "administrative bloat," aside from specific examples, because many positions and services are labeled "administrative" simply because they aren't directly instructional. Academic advising, for example, is "administrative" even though a good adviser is just as useful to a student's career as a good instructor. Also, the more that university functions have been funded with outside grants and awards, the more the reporting requirements on those grants and awards has gone up. Semi-annual or even quarterly reports are not unusual, and may ridiculous amounts of information that no one will ever read, using very specific formats and data requirements that are very time-consuming to comply with. And thanks to certain little games going on in the Med school some years ago, we all now have to provide regular reports on outside activities, on the percentage of our time spent on each funded project, whether or not we lobby the local, state, or federal governments, etc. etc. even if we don't have anything to report. All of those activities are "administrative," but have to be done to keep the external money flowing in.